Plants that Thrive During Summer Heat

Gardener’s Corner | Questions and Answers with Local Experts

By Dan Songster, 2017 July

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. The request for this edition of the newsletter is: With summer’s heat arriving, what native plants do you have in your landscape that look great despite the expected high temperatures?

Laura Camp: “Jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis, is my favorite high temp, full sun to part sun shrub. Also, Salvia californica, from Baja, seems to get bigger and prettier as the summer goes on.

Brad Jenkins: “Starting at the top of the list are toyon, California buckwheat, and saw-tooth goldenbush. Bonus… the last two flower during the summer as well.”

Ron Vanderhoff: “How about any of our native milkweeds? I especially like narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), which is simple to grow and a native plant right here in Orange County from the coast to the inland hills. Milkweeds are also summer growers, so the hot weather doesn’t faze them too much and of course the Monarch butterflies could not be happier.”

Bob Allen: “

  1. manzanitas;
  2. lemonade berry;
  3. toyon;
  4. holly-leaved cherry;
  5. desert & California grapes;
  6. bladder pod;
  7. chaparral yucca;
  8. California, gray coast, and Santa Cruz Island buckwheats;
  9. California bay laurel;
  10. tecate cypress;
  11. …..”

Mark Sugars: “In my yard, Rhus integrifolia (lemonadeberry), Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatum (California buckwheat) and Vitis girdiana (desert wild grape) do not seem to care how hot it gets.”Leon Baginski: “Manzanita and Catalina cherry. Both top performers in my yard.”

Celia Kutcher: “Frangula (Rhamnus) ‘Eve case’, Salvia apianaEriogonum fasciculatumRhus integrifoliaEriogonum giganteumGalvesia speciosa, and Heteromeles arbutifolia (which gets extra groundwater from the neighbor’s turf).”

Mike Evans: “All of ’em if the garden is planned and cared for properly.”

Sarah Jayne: “Perhaps the most appreciated native plant in my landscape during days of intense heat is my sycamore that casts a large pool of deep cool shade.”

Dan Songster: “Again, the Buckwheats stand out with the blossoms aging to a rust color as the summer really gets hot. Great variety in both plant and flower size (and colors) with low growing forms of California buckwheat (and scarlet buckwheat, and Conejo buckwheat) all the way up to the large Saint Catherine’s Lace. It seems like everything in between is also great: ashyleaf buckwheat, Santa Cruz Island buckwheat, etc.”

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