An Alabama garden can be a delight, provided it is landscaped with plants that can tolerate the state's summer heat. The long growing season provides an explosion of color that, if planned carefully, can last almost year round. But the real test of a plant's suitability to the Yellowhammer State is how it fares in the dog days of summer.
Impatiens are a long-time favorite in Alabama landscapes, and add a pop of color to shady areas. These flowers do require adequate moisture, so consider a drip line or soaker hose, which will deliver moisture where it's needed most. Impatiens are available in a variety of colors ranging from bright coral pinks to cool whites.
Vinca also performs well in the Deep South, as it is heat- and drought-tolerant. Begonias are reliable, as well, according to tests performed at Auburn University.
Many varieties of fern can handle the heat when placed under the shade canopy of a neighboring tree or structure. From the delicate maidenhair variety to the more common Boston fern, there are numerous species to give interest and texture to your shade garden. Ferns are great for filling in areas where few other plants would thrive.
Hydrangeas are a fixture in many Alabama gardens, and perform well year after year. Although they are native to Asia, a long list of hydrangeas thrive in the heat and humidity of the Deep South. Offering lush flowers in pink or blue against big-leafed foliage, these shrubs are show-stoppers when in bloom. Plant in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade, and water thoroughly for best results.
Oakleaf hydrangeas offer a different look, with leaves that mimic the shape of oak leaves (thus the name) and cone-shaped blooms in shades of cream. This species is native to Alabama, and naturally handles the climate quite well.
If your Alabama grandmother had a flower garden, she probably had at least one pocket of daylilies. And for good reason, as these low-maintenance perennials bloom from early summer through fall. Daylilies thrive in full sun, and are best planted in groups of five to eight of the same type for color impact. The plants can be divided over time to share with friends and neighbors.
Shasta daisies also love the full sun, and hostas (or plantain lilies) thrive in the shade.
All of your summer plants will need a watchful eye during times of drought. Water thoroughly in the morning or evening, when the moisture will soak down to the roots before it evaporates in the heat. Fertilize early in the growing season to strengthen your plants before the face the greatest weather challenges.