It’s hot August and hot-hued blooms are more than a match for the heat wave that defines recent days in Austin, Texas, USDA zone 8b. The flowers are fine as the day heats up, but the gardener becomes sweaty and grumpy. Early morning is the best time to appreciate the heat-loving blooming bonanza.
In my shady garden, I grow only two Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima; both receive late morning to late afternoon direct sunshine. I adore the full-of-pulchritude flowers, but each of my individual plants are, truth be told, thinner and less lush than those around town which grow in all-day sun.
I’m not complaining, especially when an early migrating Monarch stops by for a sip of the sweet stuff that the flowers offer in abundance. In fact, these blooms are pollinator magnets and there’s always something flitting about and alighting on the bright blooms.
Turk’s cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, is a signature plant in my gardens, as they bloom well in shade–which my garden has plenty of–as well as in full-to-part sun. These native Texas shrubs bloom multitudes of petite fire-engine red hibiscus flowers from May until October. Bees and hummingbirds are frequent visitors, and birds will enjoy the fruits that follow, later in autumn.
More hot red blooms this hot August are found on the Firecracker plant, Russelia equisetiformis.
A plant which thrives in both dappled shade and part sun, its tubular blooms attract native metallic bees and hummingbirds. It’s a tough plant: it requires little water, has no disease or insect problems, and is lovely in both flower and foliage.
I also grow a cousin to the R. equisetiformis, the Russelia coccinea. My one little plant has been in the ground for quite a few years and doesn’t bloom often.
But, it’s blooming now–and how–and has done so for much of this summer.
Blooms are numerous along arching branches, bright red, but more fluted than the cigar-shaped R. equisetiformis blooms. The leaves are small, opposite and scalloped, rather than the fern-like foliage of the R. equisetiformis
The R. equisetiformis is native to Mexico and southward. I’ve had both plants in my gardens for many years, but the R. equisetiformis is the more prolific of the two and seemingly better adapted, as mine grows in both shade and in some sun, whereas the R. coccinea seems happier in a spot protected by the Texas summer sun.
Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, is back in blooming business after its June and July vacation.
The pollinators are cheering! Well, they don’t exactly cheer, but there are few bloom clusters which don’t have attendant bees, busily working the blooms–all day, everyday. It’s a popular place to eat!
Like the other hot plants in this post, both of these shrubs produce blooms that pollinators love. Shortly before I caught this shot of the Flame Acanthus flower, it was feeding a female Black-chinned hummingbird. The hummer buzzed away with an annoyed chirp directed at me, but the flower remained, posed for a photo.
A native metallic bee was more cooperative with the photography session as it ignored me and worked a bloom cluster of the Firebush.
It’s hot. It’s August. There are still a few more weeks of oven-like temperatures–can you tell that I’m weary of the heat? That said, my garden and its heat worshiping blooms are doing just fine.
Autumn is just around the corner. I can’t wait.
For more awesome August blooms, check out May Dreams Gardens and its celebration of blooms galore.