One of the most common emails we get is: I live in a hot climate. What seeds would thrive in my area?
While I wish that every gardener could grow whatever variety they wanted, unfortunately that’s not the case. Here in the temperate Pacific Northwest, varieties that love the heat have to be grown in a greenhouse in order to thrive. Meanwhile, some of my flower friends who live in hot, arid climates aren’t able grow many of the most delicate treasures like sweet peas, foxglove and stock because their climate is just too harsh.
I thought it might be helpful to share some of the easiest to grow cut flowers that can take the heat. If you live somewhere where the summers get hot and you are looking for some tried and true winners to plant into your cutting garden, here are some great suggestions for you.
Amaranth: Amaranth is easy to grow and is a great choice for beginning gardeners. I have grown just about every variety of amaranth on the market, and while all make great additions to large-scale arrangements, there are a few varieties that I grow in abundance every year.
My all time favorite is Green Tails (pictured above) because its long chartreuse tassels add texture and combine beautifully with both bright and pastel color palettes. Coral Fountain has the same growth habit as Green Tails but is the most exquisite shade of dusty pink that resembles sun faded velvet. Hot Biscuits produces abundant golden brown stems that add a unique textural quality to arrangements. It mixes well with just about everything.
Basil: One of the most fragrant and abundant summer foliages in the cut flower garden is also a mainstay of the herb garden. Aromatto is the most stunning variety of all, sporting deep purple flowers, glossy foliage and a spicy licorice scent. Cinnamon, Mrs. Burns Lemon and Dark Opal are also great additions to both the herb and cut flower garden.
Cut foliage is prone to wilting in the heat, so harvest in the coolest parts of the day and place directly into water to rest for a few hours before arranging.
Marigolds are some of the toughest, hard working plants you can grow and make excellent additions to mixed bouquets. These garden workhorses benefit from pinching earlier than most, when they are around 6-8″ tall.
We are doing a big marigold trial this coming year and I’m excited to see what we discover. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a few great varieties available including Giant Orange and Giant Yellow.
Celosia: These easy to grow, heat loving flowers come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and forms, ranging from a crested cockscomb that my kids call “brain flower” to spikey, plumed forms that are great accents for bouquets. I love them all.
Cosmos: Of all the annual plants you can grow in your cutting garden, few are as productive as cosmos. They truly are a cut-and-come-again flower: the more you harvest them, the more they bloom. A single planting will produce buckets and buckets of daisy-like blooms for many months.
Globe Amaranth: These summer darlings have adorable, button-like blooms that look great in bouquets. They thrive in the heat, and the more you cut, the more they bloom. Freshly harvested flowers can last up to two weeks in the vase and can be dried and used for autumn projects and crafts.
If you’re looking for bright cheerful colors, Sunset Mix includes magenta (pictured above), red and orange. If you’re drawn to the softer tones, Pastel Mix includes white, rose, soft pink and pale lilac. It’s perfect for wedding work.
Hyacinth Bean Ruby Moon: This vigorous climber puts on a dazzling show from mid-summer to the first frost, making it a must grow for any gardener. Its eye-catching dark foliage is smothered in wine colored pea like blossoms.
As the flowers fade, long stems covered in vivid, glossy plum seed pods appear. A unique, textural addition to bouquets, the rich color of these pods pair beautifully with almost any color palette.
Orach: I discovered this fantastic plant in a friend’s veggie patch some years back and have been a huge fan ever since. Early in the season the leafy stems can be harvested for bouquets. The more you cut, the more it produces. Stems hold best when given a quick searing treatment directly after harvest. Just dip the bottom 2″ of the stems into boiling water for 10-15 seconds and then plunge into a bucket of cool water.
If plants are left to grow on you will be rewarded with gorgeous seedy stems by midsummer that are a favorite with designers and are wonderful in bouquets. Seeded stems do not need any special post harvest treatment and often last 2 weeks. For a large flush of smaller, more usable stems, be sure to pinch plants hard at 12-18″. Succession plant every few weeks for an extended harvest.
There are three main colors available including green, burgundy and a greenish-blush. Ruby Gold (pictured above) has eye-catching foliage which is a glowing acid-green and stalks are streaked with cranberry. Seeded stems are a blend of dusty rose and sun-bleached moss.
Red Leaf Hibiscus Mahogany Splendor: With dramatic deep burgundy foliage that resembles Japanese maple leaves, this plant provides great height to garden borders and adds drama to large container plantings.
Grown primarily for its striking, serrated foliage, red leaf hibiscus only produces flowers indoors in temperate regions. The more you cut this heat and drought tolerant plant, the more it produces.
Statice: Considered one of the best flowers to use dried, statice is also great fresh. Easy to grow, great for beginners and very productive, this versatile plant’s papery flowers bloom over a long period of time. Sunset Mix (pictured above) is a special mix of warm sherbet tones including peach, orange, apricot and pale creamy gold that combine beautifully with a wide range of color palettes. Pastel Mix includes cool tones like violet, lavender, blush, rose and mauve.
Strawflower: A versatile and textural addition to the cutting garden, strawflower can be used fresh and also dried for use in fall bouquets and wreaths. Also known as everlasting flowers, the color and shape of these papery blooms will last indefinitely when dried. Pollinators love them.
If you’re looking for flowers in the pink tones, Candy Pink, Silvery Rose and Pomegranate are all stunning. I love Dragon Fire for its rich, nearly black blooms, but Apricot Mix (pictured growing above) will forever be my favorite.
Ornamental Grasses and Grains: In addition to bringing visual interest to bouquets, grasses and grains are also drought tolerant, easy to grow and thrive in the heat.
Some of may favorites grasses are Frosted Explosion, Broomcorn Millet, Bunny Tails and Feathertop. All are wildly productive and very easy to grow. Broomcorn Millet is an amazing textural ingredient for bouquets. Frosted Explosion is a true workhorse, cranking out buckets of stems every few days. Both Bunny Tails (pictured growing above) and Feathertop produce loads of soft, fluffy “blooms” that are loved by all.
I discovered cress, a fantastic filler almost a decade ago have been a fan ever since. Just a few stems of these seedy treasures and every bouquet is transformed! We direct sow it in the spring, staggering 5 plantings about 2 weeks apart for an extended harvest. Fresh cress persists well over 10 days in the vase and any excess can be dried for autumn bouquets and holiday wreaths.
Sunflowers: Sunflowers are the epitome of late summer-early autumn and look incredible displayed en masse or mixed with other blooms. Extremely productive, easy to grow and free flowering, these long standing favorites deserve a spot in every garden.
I am partial to the novelty varieties of sunflowers that either have ruffled petals like Frilly, Greenburst and Panache or rich, ruby toned blooms such as Pro Cut Red and Ruby Eclipse. But when it comes to traditional varieties, nothing is more cheerful than Pro Cut Gold (pictured growing above) which has clear yellow petals and a fresh green center.
Tomatoes: One of the best vegetables to sneak into bouquets, tomatoes look amazing tumbling over the edge of an arrangement. They are easy to grow, heat loving, vigorous and produce an abundance of fruit all summer and into autumn. They are sweet and delicious for eating too!
Hands down, my all time favorite for arranging is Currant Red (pictured left) which produces an abundance of long stems loaded with miniature fruit.
Zinnias: A cut flower garden wouldn’t be complete without zinnias. These fast-growing, easy to grow flowers are a staple of high summer bouquets. They come in so many different colors and unique forms, from simple single flowers to more unusual quilled, crested and pompon shapes. Heights can vary wildly, depending on the cultivar you choose.
One of the easiest cut flowers to germinate, zinnias can be transplanted or sown directly into the garden, which makes them great for beginning growers. These reliable, prolific producers do well in virtually any climate and the more you cut, the more they bloom.
I know it can be easy to feel limited by your climate conditions, but there are always varieties that will thrive in your neck of the woods. You just may have to work a little harder to find out what those things are.
If you’re growing in a hotter part of the world, I would love to know some of your favorite varieties for cutting. Do you have any tried and true performers you’d suggest I add to the list? If so, please comment below.
Note: if your comment doesn’t show up right away, please sit tight, as we have a spam filter that requires we approve most comments before they are published.
Lastly, if you feel like this information is helpful, I would love it if you would share it with your friends.