Best Plants For The Humid Southeast

Gerbera daisy ‘Hello! Miss Scarlet’ from Proven WinnersThe Southeast tends to have muggy weather throughout the summer, and many home gardeners struggle to find plants that can take the heat and will not succumb to disease before the end of the season.

We collected the best performers from the 2015 field trials at the University of Tennessee, University of George, Metrolina Greenhouses, J.C. Raulston Arboretum. Here’s a quick rundown of the growing conditions for the trial:

J.C. Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State University

Weather details: Cooler spring temperatures led into slightly warmer than normal summer temperatures. Of note, the gardens experienced, early in the summer, a 16-day period of temperatures in the 95-100 F range. It was very humid, according to the meteorologists, the most humid summer in 20 years.

Location: The JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University is located at 4415 Beryl Road in Raleigh, North Carolina 27606.

Number of entries: This season there were 300 annuals entries and 40 perennials entries.

New thing: JC Raulston installed a pollinator garden in 2015.

Metrolina Greenhouses

There were 1,889 items this year: 1,254 annuals; 609 perennials; and 26 shrubs. There were 385 perennials carried over from last year for a second year evaluation. There will be 248 carried over this year.  Everything was set in ground beds and in 14-inch containers.

University of Georgia

During the spring of 2015, Georgia experienced mild temperatures and above average rainfall. By June, however, the temperatures shot through the roof. For about 2.5 months, the gardens had very hot (90’s F +) days and very little rain. The weather did cool in late summer, finally dipping below 90F. The effects of the summer heat were visible on the plants, but many rebounded in the cooler climate.

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville, TN, had a great trialing season, the garden runners say. Although June was hotter and drier than usual, July and August were cooler and wetter than normal, with the result being an exceptional growing season and a great display. Because of this, there were very few of our more than 175 trials that performed poorly. This made evaluating top performers difficult. More than 60,000 guests passed through the gardens during the season and both layman and professionals were impressed with the wonderful improvements and introductions plant breeders and seed companies have come up with.

Take a look at our photo gallery of top performing plants from these field trials. Those plants that earned a ranking at more than one trial are grouped together at the beginning of the slideshow.


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