In the midst of the summer heat, it’s sometimes challenging to appreciate the brief gift of hot weather for what it is. When temperatures climb, we must water more frequently—and sometimes during a stretch of drought like the one we’re experiencing this summer in the Northeast—the chore of watering can seem interminable. Day after scorching sunny day, we face the challenge of keeping our gardens and containers hydrated. It’s the perfect time of year to contemplate the plants that love these conditions. Not surprisingly, they originate in parts of the world where the majority of the year is just like this.
Consider Cacti. Although they benefit from regular watering and better fertility than they’re usually given, these drought-tolerant plants par excellence soak up dry heat and convert these conditions into new growth and flowers. Inside a greenhouse, it’s relatively easy to protect cacti from freezing, at the same time supplying maximum sunlight throughout the season. There is a universe of other succulent plants that love these conditions; including agave, aloe, draceana, echeveria,haworthia, kalanchoe, lithops, pachyphytum, and tender sedum. Visit the desert room of your closest public greenhouses for ideas.
Often specimens in such locations have grown many years in their current location, and have achieved monumental proportions over time. But don’t let that scare you—they generally grow slowly, which is why so many are popular as house plants. Then again, if sizeable and striking specimens is what you’re after, when you have your own greenhouse, all you need to add is time; these plants are supremely low-maintenance. In addition to their low moisture requirements, they are rarely troubled by insects or diseases. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can neglect watering completely. But over watering, particularly during the winter, will lead to problems with these drought-tolerant plants, so make sure to be stinting in your ministrations.
Many bulbs love heat too—don’t forget them. There is Bessera elegans, a California native with delicate, nodding, bright vermillion flowers that’s a highlight of our eastcoast garden in August. Bessera couldn’t be easier to overwinter—throw its dry corms into a paper bag in the fall and store them in a dry closet for the winter.
So next time you feel like complaining about the heat, do something about it–grow plants that love hot weather!