29 Annuals You Can Grow In Sunny, Hot, Dry Locations

These days, summertime is typically scorching hot, and rain is sadly scarce. These conditions can cause even well-established gardens to look bedraggled as the summer months wear on. 

What can you do to keep your garden looking nice all summer long?

Blooming Evolvulus - Dwarf Morning Glory growing in landscape hell strip
Evolvulus – Dwarf Morning Glory in flower growing in landscape hell strip

Luckily there are many types of annuals and perennials that can be grown as annuals that are suited to xeriscaping and do well in even the sunniest, hottest, driest places. 

In this article, we share over 25+ of the best choices in annuals and perennials that can be kept as annuals for sunny, hot, dry places. Read on to learn more.

29 Annuals & Perennials To Keep Your Hot, Dry Garden Blooming

Evolvulus (Dwarf Morning Glory)

This classic morning glory cousin produces in early summer an attractive display of colorful blue blooms with a small yellow throat.

dwarf morning glory in bloom - Evolvulus Glomeratus
Flowering Dwarf Morning Glory – Evolvulus | PlantCareToday.com

The flowers remain until the first frost arrives. In areas experiencing cold winters, the dwarf morning glory grows as an annual. In warm climates, the Evolvulus grows as a tender perennial. 

Tips on Growing Dwarf Morning Glory

Firebush

Firebush (Hamelia patens) is a Florida wildflower that produces gorgeous red/orange flowers all year round in its native tropical setting. Unsupported, this shrub can attain a height of 8′ to 12′ feet tall. With support, it can grow to be 15′ feet high.

Red-Orange Blooming Hamelia Patens (firebush)
Blooms of the Hamelia Patens – Firebush

Although the plant is a perennial when kept in a tropical setting, it can be grown as an annual in other settings. It is very attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators and makes a good addition to a butterfly garden. 

More on Firebush Hamelia Patens Care also the Bahama Firebush Hamelia Cuprea

Scaevola

Scaevola (Scaevola aemula) is also known as Blue Wonder or Fan Flower. This Australian native can grow to a height of about 18″ inches and a spread of about 24″ inches.

Close up of blooming Fan Flower
Flowering Scaevola | PlantCareToday.com

The plant produces pretty, dark blue flowers freely throughout the growing season. This tender perennial makes a nice container, window box or hanging basket plant. It also looks fetching clambering over a rock wall. 

Details on Scaevola Plant Care

Abelmoschus

Abelmoschus (Abelmoschus sakensis) There are approximately fifteen species in the Abelmoschus genus, which is part of the Malvaceae (mallow) family of plants. These plants include common okra and hail from northern Australia, Asia and Africa.

They do very well in hot, dry, sunny climates and will not thrive at all in other climates. The plants grow as lush bushes and produce Hibiscus-like blossoms. 

Cosmos Sulphureus

Klondike (Cosmos sulphureus) is a member of the Asteraceae family hailing from south America.

cosmos blooms attractive annual flowers for color
Flowering Cosmos

Standing tall at 2’ to 6’ feet, the plant produces abundant yellow/peach colored blowsy blossoms from June through September. 

Tips on Cosmos Flower Care

Coleus

Colorful Coleus is one of several members of the Lamiaceae (mint) family hailing from hot, humid tropical settings. All are colorful and easy to grow, but one variety Alabamensis is especially tolerant of hot, dry settings and bright sun.

colorful foliage of Coleus
Attractive leaves of the Coleus plant

Although most people grow Coleus for its gorgeous, multi-colored foliage, this plant also produces pretty, purple, cone-shaped clusters of flowers. 

More on Coleus Plant Care

Nierembergia (Nierembergia hippomanica) 

Nierembergia (Nierembergia hippomanica) is also known as Miers Dwarf Cupflower. The plant has naturalized throughout the state of Texas and will do well in any hot, dry, sunny climate.

Blooming Nierembergia plant
Flowering Nierembergia plant

The plant is a member of the potato family and produces pretty purple flowers that are similar to those of the potato plant but quite a bit larger. Although this plant is actually a perennial, it can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. 

Details on Nierembergia Plant Care

Verbena

Peruvian verbena (Verbena peruviana) is a rapidly spreading ground cover that produces masses of pretty, small white, pink, fuchsia, red or purple flowers. The plant attains a height of about 6″ inches and a spread as great as 6′ feet.

Annual flowers of the Verbena plant, good for ground cover.
Flowering Verbena

Hailing from South Africa, this plant does very well with high heat and lots of sun, but it does need at least a moderate amount of water to flower well. Attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, Peruvian verbena is a good choice for a butterfly garden. 

More on Growing and Care of Verbena

Heterocentron Elegans

Spanish-shawl (Heterocentron elegans) is a perennial hailing from Mexico. It flourishes in hot, dry climates and can be planted as an annual in cooler climates.

The plant attains a height and width of a little over three feet and produces gorgeous, hot pink, four-petaled blooms from spring to autumn. With its sprawling growth habit, it can make a nice ground cover, hanging basket plant or ornament for a rock wall. 

More on growing Spanish Shawl – Heterocentron elegans

Melampodium (Black Foot Daisy)

Medallion Flower (Melampodium paludosum) is a lovely, medium sized annual ranging from 10 to 15 inches in height. The flowers are a bright and enticing yellow.

Buttery flowers of the blackfoot daisy (Melampodium Leucanthum)
Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium Leucanthum) with buttery yellow gold flowers

This free flowering plant is available in cultivars such as:

  • Lemon Delight
  • Million Gold
  • Showstar
  • Derb

Tips On Melampodium Black Foot Daisy Care

Creeping Zinnia Sanvitalia

Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) is a low growing, spreading zinnia that grows to be 10″ – 12″ inches high and one or 2′ feet wide.

Bright yellow flowers of the Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia)
Bright flowers Sanvitalia – (Creeping Zinnia)

The flowers are bright yellow with dark centers. Look for it in cultivars such as:

  • Mandarin Orange
  • Yellow Carpet
  • Yellow Sprite
  • Million Suns

More on Sanvitalia Plant Care

Madagascar Periwinkle Flower

Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) is also known as Vinca and is available in a wide variety of colors and grows to be 10″ to 15″ inches high and about a foot wide and makes an excellent groundcover. Look for it in cultivars:

  • Jams & Jellies
  • Pacifica
  • Cobra
  • Titan
  • Cora
blooms of the periwinkle plant (Vinca)
Flowering periwinkle

All Vinca have shiny green foliage and flower continuously even in very hot weather. These hardy plants can be direct sown into warm, well draining soil after all danger of frost has passed.

Details on Periwinkle Flower Care

Lantana

Lantana (Lantana camara) produces multicolored flowers and grows to a height of 12″ to 14″ inches and a width of about 18″ inches. Look for cultivar series:

  • Little Lucky
  • Dallas Red
  • Landmark
  • Lucky
yellow lantana a colorful ground cover
Yellow Lantana groundcover

Be advised, these continuously flowering, reliable shrub-like annuals self sow enthusiastically are known to be invasive in tropical settings; however, outside of conducive settings, they are simply hardy and very attractive to pollinators.

Read our guide on Lantana Bush Care

Helenium (Sneezeweed)

Helenium (Helenium amarum) is commonly called Sneezeweed. The plant grows to be one or two feet high and attains a width of a little over one foot.

Blooms of the Sneezeweed  - Helenium

This continuously flowering, reliable plant produces lovely yellow blooms from August through October. This low maintenance plant is an excellent choice to add color to a natural setting. 

Tips on Sneezeweed Plant Care

Gazania (Treasure Flower)

Gazania (Gazania rigens) is a small plant that attains a height of 8″ – 10″ inches and a width of 6″ – 8″ inches.

Bright, Colorful Gazania flower
Bright Orange Gazania flower

The pinwheel like flowers are multicolored, and the silvery gray, strap-like leaves add visual interest to your garden. Look for these cultivars:

  • Daybreak
  • New Day
  • Kiss

More info on Gazania Plant Care

Pentas Lanceolata (Star Flower)

Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata) produces massive clusters of star-shaped flowers in shades of white, lavender and pink.

Wooden barrel planted with Pentas plants | PlantCareToday
wooden barrel of flowering Pentas | PlantCareToday.com

Plants range in height from one to two feet with a spread as great as 18″ inches. Look for cultivars in these series:

  • New Look
  • Butterfly
  • Starla

Learn more about Pentas Flower Care

Gaillardia pulchella (Blanket Flower)

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) is a wildflower that produces very interesting globe shaped blossoms in shades of orange and yellow. The plants range in height from 10″ to 12″ inches and can attain a width of 15″ inches.

Gaillardia Flower aka Blanket Flower
Gaillardia Blanket Flower

Look for these cultivar series:

  • Sundance Bicolor
  • Yellow Plume
  • Lollipop

Details on Gaillardia Flower Care

Verbena

Verbena (Verbena x hybrid) is a small, tidy, bushy plant that spreads readily and produces full clusters of attractive flowers in a wide variety of colors.

Annual flowers of the Verbena plant, good for ground cover.
Blooming annual Verbena plant, good for ground cover.

The plants attain a height of 8″ – 10″ inches and a width of 12″ – 15″ inches. Cultivars to watch for include:

  • Obsession
  • Tuscany
  • Enduro
  • Quartz

More info on Verbena Plant Care

Bidens

Bidens (Bidens ferulifolia) is a compact plant with very feathery foliage and small, yellow, star-like flowers.

flowering Bidens plant
Blooms of the Bidens plant

The plant grows to a height of 10″ to 14″ inches and a width as great as 10″ inches. Look for cultivars:

  • Sunbeam
  • Sun Drop
  • Sun Kiss

Tips on Bidens Plant Care

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) is also known as Spider flower. These towering plants can reach a height of 6′ feet. They produce lovely white, rose or violet flowers.

flowers of the Spider Flower - Cleome
Blooms of the Spider Flower – Cleome

Although they are annuals, they are very likely to return year after year because they seed themselves with wild abandon.

Read more on Spider Flower Care

Nicotiana Alata

Nicotiana (Nicotiana alata) is also known as Flowering Tobacco. This hardy plant can grow to be between 4′ and 6′ feet high and produces star-shaped, tubular blooms atop lush, rather sticky foliage.

blooms of the Flowering Tobacco plant
Blooming Nicotiana alata

Various cultivars produce blooms in shades of white, pink, red and even lime green.

Learn more about Nicotiana Alata Plant Care

Mexican Sunflower – Tithonia rotundifolia

Mexican Sunflower – Tithonia rotundifolia is available in cultivar ‘Fiesta del Sol’. The plant grows to be between 28″ and 30″ inches high with a spread as great as 2’ feet.

Tithonia Mexican Sunflower
Tithonia Mexican Sunflower in flower

The bright orange, daisy like flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies.

Details on Tithonia Mexican Sunflower Care

Mexican oregano (Coleus amboinicus)

Mexican oregano (Coleus amboinicus) is an attractive, easy to grow therapeutic herb which has many uses in folk medicine as well as in traditional medicine and commercial products. The plant delivers insecticidal, antimicrobial, antibacterial and allopathic benefits. The leaves also have a number of culinary uses. 

This attractive, aromatic plant has slightly fuzzy green leaves and small, delicate pale lavender flowers. It makes a good addition to an herb garden. 

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is a perennial plant hailing from Mexico and the tropical Americas. It can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. In its native tropical settings, this small shrub can attain a height and width of 3’ feet.

In cooler climates with less time to mature, it may stay a bit smaller. From August to first frost, the plant produces wands of pretty pinkish-purple flowers that are extremely attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Details on Mexican Bush Sage Care

Vanhouttei salvia (Salvia vanhouttei) 

Vanhouttei salvia (Salvia vanhouttei) is a member of the Salvia family which does well in small spaces as it does not have the prodigious spreading habits common to many types of Salvia.

The plant produces very pretty, deep reddish-purple, tubular blossoms from spring through autumn. 

Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia hirta)

Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) is also known as Black-Eyed Susan. This daisy-like annual flower is a member of the Asteraceae family and is native to the Central United States.

Flowering Rudbeckia Gloriosa Daisy
Blooming Rudbeckia Gloriosa Daisy

This hardy, pretty plant produces an abundance of orange/yellow blooms with black central “eyes” from June through September. It is attractive to butterflies and tolerant of deer. 

More about Gloriosa Daisy Care

Gomphrena Globosa (Globe Amaranth)

Gomphrena globosa (Gomphrena spp.) is also known as Globe Amaranth. This is an interesting plant that produces round (globose) blooms in white, pink, purple, lilac and violet from early June to first frost. 

Attractive flowers of the Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena)
Attractive blooms of the Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena)

Cultivars of many sizes ranging from 6 inches high to 3 feet high are available. Look for:

  • Las Vegas
  • Fireworks
  • Audrey
  • Gnome
  • Pinball

These pretty plants are extremely drought and heat resistant, and the flowers can be preserved and used in dry flower arrangements. The clover-like blossoms are very attractive to butterflies. 

Read more on Gomphrena Plant Care

Purslanes (Portulaca spp.)

Purslanes (Portulaca spp.) is a hardy wild or naturalized succulent plant that has been developed into a number of interesting cultivars. The plant spreads freely and attains a height no greater than 4″ inches with a width as great as 18″ inches. 

blooms of the purslane plant
blooming purslane

The wild plants’ flowers are usually yellow, but developed cultivars produce blooms in a wide variety of colors. Look for these series:

  • Fairy Tales Cinderella
  • Cupcake
  • Toucan
  • Rio

Purslane’s succulent foliage is edible and wildly nutritious. It has a lemony flavor and makes a nice addition to salads and stir-fries.

Learn more about Purslane a Healthy Edible Weed

Rose Moss (Portulaca grandiflora)

Rose Moss (Portulaca grandiflora) is a small, succulent, spreading groundcover that attains a height no greater than 8″ inches but can spread to widths as great as 18″ inches.

colorful Portulaca flowers perfect plant for bright sunny patios
Colorful Portulaca blooms perfect bright sunny patio plants

The plant blooms in a wide variety of colors and is available in these attractive series:

  • Happy Trails
  • Happy Hour
  • Sundial

Details on Portulaca Care 

Be Careful of Toxic Plants!

Castor bean (Ricinus communis) is also known as Africa Wonder Tree or Mole Bean Plant. Although many think it would do well in hot, dry places, the fact is, its drought tolerance is quite low. 

Additionally, the beans it produces are prohibitively toxic. While the plant is attractive and produces impressive clusters of bright red flowers, if you are in a hot dry place and/or have kids, pets or livestock to protect, this is a plant you should pass by.

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