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What types of annual plants thrive in the west?

Hot, dry summers aren't necessarily the best conditions for growing a flower garden, but that shouldn't deter you from cultivating beautiful plants. If you live in the western U.S. and want to color up your yard with bright, heat-tolerant blooms, the annuals listed below are great candidates. Plant them in the spring so that they have a well-established root system before the hot weather sets in.

  • Salvias are part of the sage family. They grow between a foot and 20 inches high (1/3 to 1/2 meter) and have tall spikes of sweetly fragrant red or blue flowers. Wilted blossoms should be removed routinely, and the whole spike should be cut off to encourage new growth once the flowers are past their prime. Salvias grow best in full sun and they will need watering once a week.
  • Lantana shrubs can grow up to six feet (1.8 meters) tall and have plentiful clusters of bright flowers. They require a warm, well-drained spot and are successful as a hedge or border. Lantana attracts butterflies, but deer dislike it. It grows vigorously so it may require periodic trimming.
  • The California poppy is California's state flower. It has cheerful yellow-orange blooms, and grows about a foot (1/3 meter) tall. It's able to thrive in rocky or gravelly soil with little more care than scattering the seeds where you want them to grow.
  • Sunflowers are the classic sun-loving plant. They'll want some nutrients added to their soil at the start of the season, and they prefer well-drained areas. They need at least six hours of sunlight a day. Some varieties can reach up to 15 feet (five meters) in height and their sunny faces area a great asset to any garden.
  • Angelonia has long sprays of pink, purple or blue flowers of up to two feet (61 cm) long. The cut flowers are a great way to showcase garden-fresh color indoors. Plants can be started from cuttings. //]]]]> ]]>