Summer blooms, Florida style

Douglas Hunt
by Douglas Hunt
It takes a tough plant to handle the heat and humidity of a Florida summer. Come along with me for a tour of some from my garden that not only handle it, but put on a beautiful show while doing so.
Firebush (Hamelia patens) can be killed back to the ground if we have a hard freeze, but because we haven't had one in two years, mine are now easily 8 feet high and wide. Zebra longwing butterflies love this plant. Zones 8b to 10
Necklace pod (Sophora tomentosa) is one of my favorite native shrubs. It has a graceful habit to 6-8 feet high and wide, lovely gray-green foliage, and these very showy yellow flowers. Zones 9 to 11
I planted a few scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) a few years ago and all the ones I have now are reseeded from those. They are in a rather shady spot, so somewhat spindly, but the monarchs don't mind. Zones 8b to 11
Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is a cousin of the more showy pink Justicia carnea. While that one has never done well for me, this version has turned into a lovely shrub of about 3 feet high and wide. It would probably flower more in more sun. Zones 8 to 11
You may well grow wishbone flower, Torenia fournieri, as an annual where you live, but I am hoping it will overwinter for me. It is thriving in the heat and humidity in partial shade.
This is the dramatic flower on the Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia gigantica) I recently wrote about ( . It is easily six inches across, and my vine keeps producing them. This species is only hardy from zones 9b to 11, but there are other pipevines that will grow in most parts of the country.
Although I only planted it last year, fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum) is quickly becoming another favorite native. The foliage is so shiny it looks like it has been polished, and the sweet little flowers have a delightful fragrance. Mine is a female plant, so those flowers should develop into berries that are relished by birds. Farther south, fiddlewood will become a tree of some size, but should stay 8 to 10 feet in my garden. Zones 9 to 11.
I cut back Salvia “Wendy’s Wish” a few weeks ago and it is already blooming again. This salvia grows to 2-3 feet high by 3-4 feet wide and blooms almost year 'round in my garden. Zones 9 to 11
Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) is another almost non-stop bloomer, this time in shrub form. Mine has matured into a rounded shrub of 6 feet high and wide. Zones 9 to 11
No roundup of Southern summer blooms would be complete without the crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia species). This was one of the few plants in place when I bought my house, so I have no idea what cultivar it is. Zones 7 to 9
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  • Patty Patty on Jul 14, 2014
    Douglas that looks like the ginger lilies I had, aren't they wonderful. I wish I could get them here.

    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 14, 2014
      @patty Mine get a little beaten up by the salt air, but it is worth it for those gloriously scented blooms.

  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Jul 14, 2014
    Beautiful pictures Douglas!! somewhat different than what I have here in Tn... Thanks for sharing!