Chesapeake Native Perennials: Taking August Heat in Stride

Native plant guide for hot sun

This summer's stretch of temperatures in the 90s throughout much of the central watershed makes this a perfect time to take a look around to see which plants can stand the heat. Along with black eyed susan (rudbeckia hirta), coneflowers (echinacea purpurea) and anise hyssop (agastache foeniculum), these bloomers seem to get a boost from the high temps:


As September approaches, it's easy to think of gardens as winding down but in the middle of the Chesapeake watershed, September and October are gargantuan for gardening: cooler temps, sunny skies and less humidity.

Blanket Flowers


The native flower (Gaillardia pulchella) is an annual and a perennial (Gaillardia grandiflora). Both are fairly easily started from seed and very durable. Since the perennial is short lived, meaning it will last a season or two, the annual may be a better choice for you. The flowers above were part of a wildflower seed mix planted in spring between a sidewalk and the street in nutrient poor, compacted soil . Gold finches are attracted to seed heads so experts recommend leaving seedheads for birds. These are sprawling wildflower plants.

Tickseed


These common perennials bloom most of summer and many bloom right through fall. There are several types native to our area: tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), rose tickseed (Coreopsis rosea), tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) and thread leaf (Coreopsis verticillata), as well as a number of hybrids. A lot of plants have unfortunate names and this is one. It's called tickseed because seeds resemble the shape of a tick, nothing more than that! The rest is good news. With the exception of rose tickseed, these grow to 2 to 3 feet, are drought tolerant, grow in a range of soils, will continue blooming if cut back and are very low maintenance. Rose tickseed naturally grows in swamps and needs richer and moist soil.

Goldenrod


Goldenrod (Solidago) is a flower most of us have seen roadside. The tall wands of gold alight in late summer and fall. If you have a meadow or large garden and room for drifts of large, leaning plants, then you can choose from any of the goldenrods. For those with smaller spaces, little lemon goldenrod (Solidago "Dansolitlem' Little Lemon) pictured above is the perfect solution. These very upright plants grow to about a foot and a half and bloom with cluster of lemon colored flowers. Beautiful!

Joe Pye Weed


Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) looks so fresh right now. It's crazy how heat tolerant this plant is and, of course, butterflies and other pollinators absolutely love it. This is another very tall and leaning or floppy perennial best for meadows and large borders. For those of us with smaller space, little joe pye weed (Eutrochium dubnium 'Little Joe') is a good fit. It grows to 3 to 4 feet and is more upright.

Liatris


Liatris, also called blazingstar, is fairly common and looks really modern planted in mass. After the blooms fade, the architecture of the upright stalks still look good as shown at the top of this post. These generally grow 2 to 4 feet high and in full sun. There are a number of liatris varieties. For moister soils, look for Liatris spicata. For drier soils, LIatris scariosa, is commonly available. There are others with slightly different flowers, colors and growing habits. Liatris microcephala is a shorter type with feathery foliage.

Mountain Mint


Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is very easy to grow and so tolerant of full sun and poor soil. The flowers are almost the same color as the foliage and, from a distance, add a pop of minty color making for good contrast with green. They stay upright and are constantly visited by pollinators all day long. Their stems also stay upright through much of winter providing good structure and seeds.


I hope you already have some of these and they are weathering the summer just fine. If you want to add more, nurseries have few lines. Please take care.






We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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