Is there anything more cooling than beautiful, white blooms and leaves nodding in the shade of a pretty summer garden? My thoughts turn to the colors of the American flag and the plants that bring red, white, and blue colors to the landscape. Today, let’s look at those that bring bright, white to summer gardens and landscapes.
A lovely backdrop or taller element for white in the landscape could be a Crape Myrtle which bloom through the hot summer months. This winter leaf shedding tree has hundreds of varieties in various sizes and colors. They like full sun and well-draining soil with regular water. A few varieties with white blooms include the semi-dwarf (height less than 12 feet after 10 years) ‘Acoma,’ ‘Petite Snow™,’ and ‘White Chocolate.’ Medium-sized selections, less than 20 feet in 10 years, ‘Burgundy Cotton™’ and ‘Sarah’s Favorite.’ More than 20 feet tall, the larger trees include the ever-popular ‘Natchez’ and not as often used ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Townhouse.’
Caladiums are great plants for warm-season landscapes. Their colorful leaves in hues of red, pink, green, and white are spectacular when planted in large groups. Some Caladium cultivars such as ‘White Wonder’ and ‘White Pearl’ have been bred with good tolerance for sunny locations. Caladiums with thick leaves and/or a strap leaf shape will tolerate full sun conditions. The large-leafed Caladium varieties of ‘Candidum,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘White Christmas,’ and ‘Snow Drift’ require some shade to look good.
Moss Rose (Portulaca species) is a long-time favorite of gardeners during hot weather. It is one of the annuals that is successful in extreme summer heat. It requires little attention to spread and bloom vigorously during the intense summer weather. Flowers come in single, semi-double, or double forms and rainbow colors, including cooling white for summer gardens. Rose Moss is easily planted from seed or small plants and thrives in poor, sandy soils.
White flowering shrubs are abundant; add a Gardenia or Queen of the Night Brugmansia for fragrance. For white blooms and foliage, Crape Jasmine AKA Florida Gardenia, Oleander, Bromeliads Alcantarea odorata or Aechmea fasciata, the native String Lily or Fiddlewood, and Copperleaf ‘Java White.’
There are also many good-looking choices for annual beds and containers. I like Portulaca, Pentas, and the vining Moonflower and Bleeding Heart, as well as the native Heliotropes for cooling white summer blooms. My all-time favorite, Granny Cloud, too, for summer is the pretty Caladium.
This article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.