I savor the lovely growing things the summer weather brings. Many heat-tolerant flowers are big and beautiful, the leaves bright green, and warm-season turfgrasses growing like toddlers. There are beds filled with flowers and containers gracing the patio and around the pool. 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, warm red hues to summer gardens and landscapes.
Mandevilla vines are evergreen, frost tender, and woody. They bear glossy oval green leaves opposite each other on long stems that emit a milky sap when broken. Pretty fragrant flowers are bell-shaped with five broad spreading petals. The blooms occur in clusters and are usually found in shades of red or pink with white and yellow throats. Mandevilla tends to bloom best when the weather is warm and in full sun. Red varieties include ‘Red Fury’ and ‘Crimson.’
Great red flowers for the summer garden can be had with a beautiful bed of Pentas. This herbaceous perennial originates in Africa, from Yemen to East Africa. Pentas are grown for lovely flowers and fuzzy or pubescent leaves, 2- 4 inches long. The leaves are dark green, though there are variegated varieties available. Pentas attract all kinds of butterflies, bees, and birds.
Acalypha wilkesiana or copperleaf is a fast-growing, evergreen shrub, though “green” doesn’t usually describe this lovely staple’s foliage in the South Florida landscapes. It bears many toothed leaves up to 8 inches in diameter in various colors, including mottled red, copper, bronze, purple, white, and green. The variety ‘Louisiana Red’ bears brilliant color and large leaves. Use it in groups for an impressive focal point in the landscape.
Firecrackers for your garden can be found in the form of Russelia equisetiformis. A lovely plant, it has a mounding/weeping habit that is perfect for bank stabilization. This is a large plant and needs plenty of space to grow. Firecracker plant is covered with red tubular flowers most of the year. The flowers are at the ends of the branches and terminate in an explosion of small petals. The flowers are long-lasting and put on a show that rivals any Fourth of July fireworks.
This article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.