Summers can bring all sorts of challenging growing conditions. Here in the Southeast this season tends to be very hot and humid with unpredictable long spells in which there is often little rainfall. Temperatures and humidity can be particularly oppressive during the dog days of summer. For such situations, there are some foolproof succulents that can handle whatever kind of weather the summer may bring. Here are some suggestions.
Moss Rose and Flowering Purslanes (Portulaca spp.)
When annuals are needed for hot, humid climates, the flowering purslanes and the moss rose canít be beat. These withstand long periods of above average temperatures. The moss rose is probably best known. These can be purchased as bedding plants or grown from seed. Some varieties have double blooms. The blossoms of the moss rose tend to open with the sun. For ones that remain open longer, look for the Sundial series of plants.
The flowering purslanes are becoming more popular. The leaves and stems are thicker and more aggressive than those of the moss rose. Generally, these plants arenít quite as floriferous as the moss rose. However, some of the new improved varieties are more free flowering. The flowering purslane blossoms come in fewer flower colors than the moss rose.
Sedums and Stonecrops
These weatherproof perennials hold up very well during harsh weather conditions. The Autumn Joy is one of the best known. This is a well known hybrid. In addition, there are several excellent cultivars that are somewhat similar. These include Brilliant showy sedum, which has raspberry-pink blossoms.
Meteor has very dark pink blossoms, and is really quite similar to Autumn Joy. However, this one is just slightly larger. The blossoms of Carmen are rather dark as well. Some gardeners feel that Carmen is the best of all. It reaches about two feet in height.
Spanish bayonet (Yucca spp.)
Also called Adamís needle, there are several species of these. In some locations theyíre known as Spanish dagger. All of these are weatherproof plants for mixed borders and flower beds.
There are several species native to the U.S. Their winter hardiness can vary, depending on the species. The hardiest of all does fine in zone five while others can survive only to zone 11 or so.
The commonly grown Adamís needle (Yucca filamentosa) is only three feet or so in height. This evergreen is grown as an evergreen perennial. When in bloom, the flower spike can reach three feet in height. Otherwise, the plant is less than two feet or so in height. This is best known for the creamy white pendant blossoms that appear all along the length of the flower stalks. These start opening in mid-July and are around three inches wide. The lance-like foliage is stiff and upright. Improved cultivars are available, including ones with variegated foliage.