15 Container Garden Plants That Can Stand the Heat

Pentas Kaleidoscope Appleblossom
Photo: Justin Hancock

The dog days of summer can cause your gorgeous container gardens to sulk. Try these plants that take the heat and still look colorful all season long.

01 of 15

Angel's Trumpet

Double White Angel's Trumpet
Christopher Hirsheimer

In full bloom, a good-size angel's trumpet will stop you in your tracks. The hanging flowers are indeed trumpet-shape and can reach more than 1 foot long, depending on variety. The blooms also release a pleasant, sweet fragrance after sunset. If you have pets or children, just be sure to keep these plants out of reach, because all parts are poisonous if ingested.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet or more

Zones: 7-11

Buy It: Angel Trumpet ($33, Amazon)

02 of 15

Agave

agave plant in terra cotta planter pot
David McDonald

Though it's not grown for blooms, agave is a stunning plant that lends an architectural flair to any container. There are striped and solid varieties of agave in different shades of green and blue. Most varieties have extremely sharp leaf tips, so if you have small kids or pets, you might want to cut them off or cover them to make them more friendly.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet or more, depending on variety

Zones: 5-11

Buy It: Agave Plant ($30, Amazon)

03 of 15

Angelonia

Angelonia Serena White
David Speer

This adaptable flower is sometimes called summer snapdragon. Its spikes of purple, white, or pink flowers appear all summer long, no matter how high the mercury rises. Some varieties of angelonia have larger blooms, while dwarf varieties are the perfect size for container gardens.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall or more

Zones: 9-11

Buy It: Angelonia Serena ($10, Amazon)

04 of 15

Bamboo

bamboo plant in outdoor wooden container on balcony
Erica George Dines

Although it can be a fast-spreading menace when grown in the ground, bamboo is a dramatic specimen plant when grown in a large container (where it can't escape). It makes a perfect, fast-growing screen for privacy. When planting bamboo, make the planting hole twice as wide as the root ball; if you're planting in a container, make sure it's big enough!

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet or more

Zones: 6-10

Buy It: Bamboo Palm ($199, Bloomscape)

05 of 15

Banana

banana plant in a container garden
Erica George Dines Photography

With its big leaves, banana makes a great big presence in the landscape. Place the plant in the center of a garden bed, or at the back of a garden against a fence for tropical height. While most are plain green, look for types with a mottling of dark red or white edges for extra interest.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: From 1 to 15 feet, depending on type

Zones: 9-10

Buy It: Banana Plant ($10, Amazon)

06 of 15

Canna

Canna plant in garden landscaping
David McDonald

Perfect for creating a lush, tropical look, canna offers large leaves (variegated in many varieties) and glowing flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. These plants can often be found close to the water, so they need moist soil to be happy in a garden. You can also overwinter cannas indoors, then bring them outside the next spring.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in consistently moist soil

Size: From 1 foot to 15 feet, depending on type

Zones: 7-10

Buy It: Canna Mix Bulbs ($30, The Home Depot)

07 of 15

Lantana

Lantana 'Luscious Pina Colada'
Justin Hancock

Loved by butterflies, lantana produces multicolored flowers in festive shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. Certain varieties have blooms that create an ombre effect, lightening or darkening from the outside in. Some varieties even have variegated foliage that add extra color to your garden even when they're not in bloom.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet or more

Zones: 8-11

Buy It: Lantana ($23, Amazon)

08 of 15

Mandevilla

Red mandevilla vine
Bob Stefko

One of the most regal flowering vines, mandevilla produces large trumpet-shape blooms in shades of red, white, and pink. It's a fast-growing climber that blooms profusely with clusters of flowers along the vine. Keep in mind that this plant is poisonous if ingested.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs to 10 feet or more

Zones: 10-11

Buy It: Mandevilla ($42, The Home Depot)

09 of 15

Passionflower

purple passionflower on trellis close up
Kim Cornelison

One of the most beautiful climbing vines, passionflower has intricate flowers in rich shades of almost every color of the rainbow. Make sure they have a sturdy lattice or a trellis to climb. This is another butterfly favorite!

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs to 10 feet or more

Zones: 6-10

Buy It: Passionflower ($24, The Home Depot)

10 of 15

Pentas

Pentas Kaleidoscope Appleblossom
Justin Hancock

Pentas produces clusters of beautiful starry red, white, or pink flowers. No matter how hot it gets, the flowers keep on coming all summer long. (And so do the butterflies that love them!) Their growth habit is neat and compact.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet or more

Zones: 10-11

Buy It: Lavender Pentas ($30, The Home Depot)

11 of 15

Plumbago

light blue blooming Plumbago flowers
Bill Stites

The beautiful, sky-blue flowers of plumbago are known for attracting butterflies. This shrubby vine is a quick grower and flowers prolifically all summer long. While it can take the heat, it's also cold-hardy and can be used as a beautiful flowering groundcover.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs to 10 feet or more

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Plumbago Imperial Blue Flowering Shrub ($57, The Home Depot)

12 of 15

Salvia

pink and purple salvia
Mark Kane

A wonderful, heat-and-drought-tolerant plant with indigo-blue flowers, 'Black and Blue' salvia also attracts lots of birds and butterflies. Salvias don't do well in cool weather, so be sure to plant them after chance of frost has passed.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet or more

Zones: 5-11, depending on variety

Buy It: Pink Bloom Salvia Plant ($27, The Home Depot)

13 of 15

Sky Vine

sky vine plant flowering
Dean Schoeppner

This fast-growing vine smothers itself with large sky-blue flowers throughout the summer. It's a favorite of butterflies; adults drink the nectar and some species will eat the foliage. In areas where it doesn't freeze, sky vine is potentially invasive, so be careful if planting in a tropical area.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs to 15 feet or more

Zones: 10-11

Buy It: Blue Sky Vine ($37, The Home Depot)

14 of 15

Solanum

Royal Robe nightshade Solanum rantonnetii 
Edward Gohlich

A beautiful shrub, solanum produces clusters of dark violet-blue flowers. This easy-growing plant is often sold on a standard form, meaning trained as a patio tree. You can use this shrub as a living screen for backyard privacy.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: To 5 feet or more

Zones: 9-11

Buy It: Bittersweet Nightshade ($9, Etsy)

15 of 15

Tropical Milkweed

yellow orange red tropical milkweed flowers
Marty Baldwin

It's hard to decide what's prettier: the brilliant red, yellow, and orange tropical milkweed flowers or the scores of Monarch butterflies they attract.

Test Garden Tip: Monarch caterpillars will eat the foliage of this plant (so don't worry if you spot a few holes in the leaves). Also, be careful when handling this plant, because the milky sap can irritate skin.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet or more

Zones: 10-11

Buy It: Tropical Milkweed (from $3, Etsy)

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