My Personal Favorites for Summer Color

I offered this list as my own favorite sources of summer landscaping color a year ago. I decided it was worth posting again since we have so many new readers. I’ve gone through and tweaked it a good bit. I grow some of these for their foliage and others for flowers, but they all give superior performance.


Trailing lavender white lantana

• Trailing lantana. Flowers in shades of white, orange, orange-red, yellow and lavender. New Gold and trailing lavender are the two most popular. It’s perennial in southern half of the state. (I wish Gold Mound and Silver Mound were still available in nurseries – still two of my favorites.)


Pink Dragon Wing begonia.

• Wax begonias. Best in morning sun, afternoon shade. Bronze-leafed types are more tolerant of sun. Green-leafed types need almost total shade. Flowers are red, pink or white. Dragon Wing hybrids are large-leafed, large-flowering types.

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Blue and white fanflowers, begonias

• Fanflowers. This Australian plant has really caught on in the past 30 years. Blue or white flowers on trailing plants. This plant is great for bed edgings and containers.



• Pentas. New hybrid types stay short and bloom non-stop all summer and fall. Shades of red, pink, white and lavender. Grow to 12 to 16 inches tall. Great “filler” plants for patio pots.


Angelonia ‘Serena Purple’

• Angelonias. Also occasionally referred to as “summer snapdragon” because the plants and flowers bear some resemblance. Nice in pots where it can be the “thriller” (upright plants in centers), also massed in beds.



• Firebush. Great for flowers and, as weather cools in fall, for bronze foliage. Blooms non-stop in sunny settings. Very popular with hummingbirds. Perennial in southern half of state (except perhaps in really cold winters like this past one).


Coleus mixture

• Coleus. My all-time favorite foliage plant for the summer. There seem to be almost endless new hybrids coming into the market. (Hooray!) Choose types that are slow to flower. Blooms stop production of new growth and must be pinched off. Nice in beds and large patio pots. Grow to 24 to 36 inches tall and wide. Some tolerate more sun than others. Best color comes from morning sun, afternoon shade.


Copper Plants

• Copper plants. Commonly used in massed plantings 30 years ago, not as commonly seen now. New selections, however, are spurring renewed interest and with good merit. Stands up to full, baking sun. Grows to 24 to 36 inches tall. Pinch out growing tips to keep plants compact. Be a trend-setter. Plant a nice bed of this great, sun-loving plant.


Purple fountaingrass, Zinnia linearis

• Purple fountaingrass. Everyone loves this graceful plant. Another fine “thriller” plant for patio pots. Best color and plume formation when grown in sun. Good in backs of beds as well. Not winter-hardy in most of Texas, but perennial in Deep South Texas.



• Crotons. This is an odd entry here, since plants are often considered to be houseplants. I grow this plant in large pots that go into my greenhouse in winter, but you can also start with 2- or 3-gallon pots in spring and use them as lovely summer and fall annuals. Best color comes from sun all but mid-afternoon in the summer.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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