Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot Summer Blooms

As the days get hotter and the humidity turns Louisiana into a steam bath, I start looking for plants that perform in these horrid conditions.  Many flowers and plants either take a break for a couple of months, or else they languish or even die.  This is when you must turn to tropical plants or those that are native to really hot areas.  One such plant is the Mexican sunflower, or tithonia.  This hot-colored plant laughs at hot, humid conditions.  It stays lush, blooms like a fool, and invites all butterflies in the neighborhood to come over for a drink.  The blooms are so bright orange that they are hard to photograph.  This first picture is from last year.

This next picture is of my first bloom from this year.  These plants start blooming in mid to late June just when other flowers are playing out or quitting.  The butterflies and bumblebees flock to this flower.  It is a MUST HAVE if you want to attract butterflies!  I've seen nearly every type of butterfly that lives in my area nectar on these blooms - swallowtails of all types, monarchs, Gulf fritillaries, and many others. 

These plants re-seed prolifically if you let them.  They can be planted at nearly any time once the soil warms up.  They don't want any special care.  They get about 5 feet tall so a strong wind might make them flop over.  To combat this, I like to snip them back so as to make them shorter and stockier.  The definitely need nearly full sun to thrive.  They are a good companion plant to zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, salvias, coreopsis, and butterflyweed.  You might want to look for certain varieties that are supposedly shorter and less prone to flopping.  I'll end this with some pictures of butterflies nectaring on my tithonias last year.

No comments: