When the weather sizzles, I like my garden to sizzle too. Heat-loving, hot-colored annuals in shades of red, orange and yellow make for fantastic fiery displays that are sure to impress. These colorful plants also look fitting for July, August and September when the temperatures rise and droughts are more prevalent.

Bidens 'Golden Star'

The bright yellow blooms of Bidens ‘Golden Star’ brighten up bed edges.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

'Treasures Red' ornamental pepper

Don’t relegate your peppers to the vegetable garden – the spicy hot color of ‘Treasures Red’ ornamental pepper add plenty of flavor planted en masse.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

'Black Pearl' pepper

The ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ is a jewel in its own right, producing beautiful dark, round fruit reminiscent of the ocean treasure.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith


Set your garden ablaze with the colors of crotons.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

Gomphrena globosa 'Strawberry Fields'

Your garden will be red hot from August to October with Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

Saliva splendens 'Van Houttei'

Not only does Saliva splendens ‘Van Houttei’ heat up a garden with color, it’s great in dried flower arrangements.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

Texas sage

Texas sage craves the hot, dry weather of summer and is big on blooms.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

There are many annuals to choose from that can heat up your garden – most from tropical regions. But it’s always nice to plant tried-and-true selections that will be sure to glow in the heat of the summer. Here are eight super-hot summer annuals that will do well in almost any well-drained, sunny summer garden.

The apricot-orange flowers of Agastache ‘Apricot Sprite’ bloom nonstop all summer and attract a bevy of pollinators. Flowers are born on bushy, drought-tolerant plants that reach 18 inches in height. In Northern gardens, these fragrant mints are tender perennials treated as annuals, but they will survive winters in Zone 7 or warmer.

Bright yellow Bidens ‘Golden Star’ is super easy to grow. The annual mixes mix well with other hot colors and can really take the heat. They grow to about 12 inches tall and form low, spreading clumps, making them perfect for bed edges. These carefree summer annuals bloom all season, require no deadheading and make great container plants.

Capsicum annuum, better known as ornamental peppers, make a strong statement in late summer beds. Their attractive fruits come in shades of red, orange, yellow or purple, and all are edible and spicy. Some more pleasing cultivars include ‘Treasures Red’, which has very bright orange/red peppers, and the All-America Selection ‘Black Pearl’, which boasts purple foliage and round, purple fruit that turns bright red when mature. These bushy annuals generally grow to 1 or 2 feet tall and look best in the garden from late July to October.

Codiaeum variegatum, commonly called crotons, lend a tropical look to container plantings or beds. These beauties are actually tender perennials. Crotons love hot, steamy weather, and will even do well in partial shade. The lovely thick, variegated foliage comes in an array of sunset colors. These plants can grow to shrub-like proportions where it overwinters, but it won’t if grown as annuals. Terrific crotons are definitely underused in Northerly gardens. If kept in containers, these plants can be brought inside in winter to brighten any home.

The tubular red-and-yellow flowers of Cuphea micropetala bloom nonstop all summer – even in the hottest weather. These bushy natives of Mexico natives grow 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall, and they are just beginning to gain popularity as garden ornamentals. They are easy to grow and beautiful. Their red-and-yellow flowers mix well with many other plants, too.

The rounded red flowers of Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’ look super from August through to October. These annuals have full, bushy habits reaching 2 feet tall, and their robust red flowers hold up to the heat and stay looking pretty for a long time. This is because Gomphrena flowers are also excellent everlastings that can also be used in dried-flower crafts.

Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttei’ is a taller and more elegant selection of the species, and it can reach up to 4 feet. Its crimson flowers appear in the late summer and attract hummingbirds and many butterflies. They also look great when cut and placed in flower arrangements.

Another tried-and-true salvia that takes the heat is Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’, also called Texas sage. This ever-blooming annual features crimson-red flowers and thrives in hot, dry weather. In fact, ‘Lady in Red’ seems to look better and better as the summer progresses. It is also a hummingbird magnet and will reseed itself in the garden if allowed.

So, before the hot season hit you head on, try to work a few of these blazing annuals into your beds. All provide reliable color and heat tolerance that will help make any summer garden more beautiful – and the heat more bearable.