9 Heat-Tolerant Plants Perfect For Container Gardening, According To An Expert

heat tolerant plant
Photo: Ben Galland Photography for The Vine

In the South, one must always be prepared for the heat—and that goes for the plants that live here, too. When temperatures can spike three seasons out of the year, with record-breaking numbers common in the summer months, plants in the South should be selected and primed to withstand high temperatures for an extended period of time.

Knowing this, Southern gardeners must always put research into what to buy before planting, whether filling up a container garden or planning landscaping around their homes. Rejane Parker, Director of Gardens at The Vine in St. Simons Island, Georgia, is an expert at recommending heat-tolerant plants that will not only live but thrive in the Southern climate.

Rejane Parker is heat-tolerant plant expert and the Director of Garden at The Vine in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

With container gardening in particular, Parker says she and her team tend to prioritize clean aesthetics and statement pieces, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Another trick? Containers that are used to, as she describes, "punctuate the outdoor rooms we create for our clients." Imagine oversized pots, eye-catching bases in colors such as light tans and whites, and even planters in the shape of oyster shells.

To recreate such a look and feeling at home, no matter where you live in the South, we asked Parker to share a few of The Vine's favorite plants and flowers for container gardening. So, trust us when we say these 9 heat-tolerant plants are "very heat friendly and stable, even in the dead of summer months." We phoned a pro on the ground to be certain.

01 of 09

Blue American Agave

blue agave
Ben Galland Photography for The Vine

First on our list of heat-tolerant plants: Blue American agave. Even in container gardening, this plant can produce "pups" (rhizome) that can be harvested and propagated. It also blooms, producing a pretty yellow color at the end of each long stalk.

Very sculptural, the plant's solid shape stands out against backdrops of evergreens in the garden, explains Parker. "Agave can be underplanted with a touch of color, or just kept by themselves," she adds. "They need very little water and perform fantastically in full sun but also very fairly in part shade gardens."

When planting, Parker recommends using sturdy gloves as the leaf tips—and even roots—can be very sharp. If underplanting, sedums, hens and chicks, and kalanchoes make for nice companions.

02 of 09


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Another recommendation by Parker, these blooms pair particularly well with the above-mentioned agave. Sedums, also known as stone crop, come in an array of pretty colors as well as many different shapes and heights. An abundance of varieties available means you can choose the one that best fits the look you're after. One fact remains for all, though: Sedums are easy to plant and take care of, no matter your level of garden expertise.

03 of 09


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This is another plant that holds up well in the heat. It is a popular flowering succulent, especially for container gardening, because it is generally easy to care for and has a long blooming period. The leaves are also unique to look at—don't you think?!

04 of 09

Barbara Karst Bougainvillea

Ben Galland Photography for The Vine

If you're searching for a heat-tolerant plant with a lot of look, bet on Barbara Karst Bougainvillea. This particular variety is one of the most heat tolerant of all types of bougainvillea, thriving in both full sun and light shade.

"This is THE show display in the garden, with vibrant magenta-pink hues and delicate flowers," Parker exclaims, adding that it dislikes wet soil when planted in a container. This fact is what makes it the most efficient bloomer for minimum waterings.

A few things to know: Bougainvillea is a climbing plant, so it's best to place it next to a supporting structure such as a column or trellis. This will support its robust growing habit, according to Parker. She likes planting it alongside salvia, commonly known as sage, and lantana.

05 of 09


blue salvia
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Sage, also known as salvia, is technically part of the mint family but that doesn't mean it doesn't bloom. This fragrant flower blooms summer to autumn, and is drought-tolerant, making it another great option for planting in the steamy South.

When adding to a container garden, it's important to know that this variety does attract bees and butterflies (you can thank its nice aroma for that!) so be sure to place it away from crowded gathering areas. While beautiful to admire in nature, it's best to watch bees from a safe distance at home.

06 of 09


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This vibrant plant is a favorite for its many colors—think pink, yellow, red, orange, blue, and purple. It is popular in container gardening, and outdoor hanging baskets in particular, because the bright blooms stem from vine-like branches. It's also a fast-growing ground cover that can fill up areas well, looking especially pretty when placed alongside salvia and bougainvillea.

07 of 09

Hens and Chicks

Ben Galland Photography for The Vine

While succulents may seem like an obvious recommendation for hot climates, there's still opportunity to think outside of the box (or pot, we should say). Just take Parker's recommendation: Hens and Chicks! Not to be fooled with feathery birds of the same name, these chunky succulents make a pretty display of textures and colors in any container garden. Parker adds that succulents, when stressed, will turn a pretty array of warm colors (from purples to oranges and reds!) so you can also expect an evolving rainbow over time.

08 of 09

Pancake Succulents

Ben Galland Photography for The Vine

Another succulent Parker loves? Pancake succulents! This variety looks especially great alongside dichondra and sedums, which also come recommended in this gallery. "Most succulents need very little watering once established and during their growing season in the spring, summer, and fall—and don't need any water once they become dormant in the wintertime," she explains.

09 of 09


Alex Bruce/Getty Images

Looking for a plant that will go the extra mile? This plant quite literally covers the ground for you. It looks especially pretty at the base of a container garden, as evidenced by this photo, thanks to creeping stems that make a nice, full base layer and drape beautifully over the pot's edge as they grow.

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