There are plenty of easy blooms that are happy in hot weather and will give you just what you want--color. 'Knock Out' rose is one of the best. This shrub produces multitudes of cherry red blooms from spring through fall. For a big show, plant three or five en masse. Tip: Save money by buying this plant in a smaller 1-gallon size; it grows fast.
Want some other options? Lantana is a favorite and looks great in flowerbeds and containers. Choose from a range of colors that include white, pink, purple, yellow, and orange. Accent the petals with colorful foliage. Heat-loving purple heart (Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea') and chartreuse 'Cuban Gold' duranta are some bright choices to consider.
Low-growing Profusion Hybrid zinnias provide an ample show of color with blooms in shades of yellow, orange, pink, and white. Look for some of the great new purple coneflower hybrids including yellow-blooming 'Sunrise' and orange-flowering 'Sunset.' Complement these choices with 'Goldsturm' yellow coneflower to create a warm welcome for friends and family. Verbenas, such as rose-colored 'Saint Paul' and 'Homestead Purple,' are also reliable favorites and love to be in the sunshine--just like you.
ELLEN RUOFF RILEY
I love to enjoy flowers indoors--even if it's only a single wonderful bloom. Annuals such as cosmos, zinnias, and petite sunflowers provide plenty to cut. Plus they're easy, inexpensive, and flourish very quickly. Because of limited garden space, I grow these plants in big containers outside my back door.
I plant seeds after the last frost. About three weeks later, I start more pots so there are continuous blooms throughout summer. As the first round wears out, I pull out old plants and do the last seeding for fall flowers, usually in mid-July. This gives me plenty to bring in through autumn's warm days.
Some tricks I've learned along the way: Purchase extra packets of seeds in spring so you can plant more in the summer; the selection is better when you buy early. Add moisture-retaining polymer granules to the potting mix prior to planting to help keep the soil moist longer between waterings. During hot weather, water early in the morning until it flows from the pot's drainage holes.