Seven annuals that can take the heat in Western New York

angelonia by Stofko
Angelonia or summer snapdragon. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

We’re enjoying a cool break in the weather, but summer has just started. Temperatures are going back up into the 80s– or higher. Be prepared with annual flowers that can take the heat.

Here are seven recommendations from Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. 

These flowers will bloom all summer. Most of them are also drought tolerant, so you don’t have to water them constantly when the weather is hot and dry.

Consider these annuals for containers, too. Use the thriller-filler-spiller format for a more attractive arrangement. A thriller is a tall, upright plant; the fillers are plants of medium size, and the spiller cascades over the edge of the pot.

One good combination with these plants is angelonia as the thriller, penta as the filler and portulaca as the spiller, said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s. Another is angelonia as the thriller, lantana as the filler and portulaca as the spiller.

Angelonia or summer snapdragon

This works well as the tall plant in the center of a pot, Yadon said. The blooms are similar to snapdragon flowers.

Angelonia comes in white, purple and pink.

There are various sizes: 10 to 14 inches, 18 to 30 inches, and 30 inches.

Angelonia isn’t drought tolerant.

penta in bloom
Penta. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko


This plant is good at attracting hummingbirds, Yadon said. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is a good filler.

The blooms are made up of small star-shaped flowers that come in in white, pink and lavendar.

It isn’t drought tolerant.

Begonia 'BIG'
Begonia ‘BIG’. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Begonia ‘BIG’

You can make a dramatic statement with this new variety of begonia. Unlike wax begonias that are sold in little six-packs, Begonia ‘BIG’ is sold in a pot, and the plant can get 30 inches tall.

It gives you “more color with fewer plants,” Yadon said. The blooms on Begonia ‘BIG’ are larger than the blooms on other varieties.

This versatile plant can also grow in shade.

It prefers moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate short periods of drought.

annual vinca or Catharanthus roseus
Annual vinca or periwinkle. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Annual vinca or periwinkle

The plant we’re talking about here is an annual, Catharanthus roseus. Don’t confuse it with Vinca minor, the vining perennial groundcover.

What’s interesting about the annual vinca is that “it looks like impatiens, but it’s the opposite of impatiens,” Yadon said. Impatiens walleriana does well in shade while annual vinca likes hot sun.

“I plant them right along the asphalt,” he said.

The flowers on annual vinca come in shades of white, pink and purple.

It has moderate to high drought tolerance.

lantana in bloom
Lantana. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko


There are many different varieties of lantana with different growing habits: trailing, semi-trailing and mounding. The mounding types can be fillers in containers.

An interesting trait of some varieties is that the florets of the flower may start out in two or three different colors and eventually turn into a single color– see the photo.

Mischler’s has lantana in yellow, orange, pink and a purply-pink.

Lantana is drought tolerant.

Geranium. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko


These plants with bright red or orange flowers are so drought tolerant that they are typically used at cemetery plots, which aren’t tended as often as a pot at home, Yadon noted.

Portulaca. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko


The portulaca is so drought tolerant that even if it dries out, it won’t die.

“The heat doesn’t bother it,” Yadon said. “It’s a very durable plant.”

Portulaca grows four to six inches tall and can trail down the side of a pot. The flowers are orange and yellow.

3 Comments on “Seven annuals that can take the heat in Western New York

  1. Short answer is Yes: there are many varieties of portulaca.We carry a series called cupcake as a part of specialty annual program, just solid colors & we also had earlier in the season flat packs, a seed variety called Happy Hour Mix.

  2. Didn’t portulaca used to come in various colors, even on the same plant, I think?

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