Michigan is a state that truly has all four seasons. From the depths of a cold and snowy winter to the 90-degree days of summer, we see it all. The summer months can get very hot in Michigan, and not all flowers can stand up to the heat. As an additional challenge, summer days here can be wet and muggy, or part of a drought.
Perennial Flowers for Michigan Summers
The best heat tolerant summer flowers to plant in Michigan are native. These perennials evolved to grow in the state’s summer weather and require less care and watering than non-native species.
- Wild lupine – Growing up to 3 feet (1 m.) tall with striking blue spikes of flowers, lupine plants thrive in dry, sandy soil. It is also the only plant to host the caterpillar of the Karner blue butterfly, a threatened native species.
- Milkweed – This native is a host for monarch butterflies and produces tall stalks of cream-to-pink flowers. The late summer seed pods of milkweed are also attractive.
- Purple coneflower – Also known as echinacea, this tall, striking purple flower is a favorite feeding site for goldfinches and other birds.
- Blue false indigo – Growing up to 4 feet (1 m.), false indigo, or baptisia plants, grow in mounds with pretty, purple flowers. They are rabbit resistant.
- Four o’clock – The wild Mirabilis nyctaginea is native to Michigan and blooms on hot, summer afternoons. Four o’clock flowers have clusters of small pink or purple blooms.
- Rough blazing star – This native is unusual in that it blooms from the top down. It produces purple spikes of flowers. Look for wild, not cultivated, species of blazing star.
- Solomon’s seal – This is a great option for shady areas of the garden. The stalks of Solomon’s seal produce drooping, bell-shaped flowers.
Non-native perennials that do well in Michigan’s summer heat include sedum, yarrow, barrenwort, and hydrangea.
Best Annual Flowers for Hot Summers in Michigan
The best Michigan summer flowers may be native wildflowers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy beautiful annuals. These are usually plants that are perennial in their native ranges, much hotter climates, so they do well in hot summer months. Many of these do need a lot of watering and won’t tolerate drought well.
- Wax begonia – With characteristic waxy leaves, these annuals fill in hot shady spaces and begonias also do well in containers.
- Impatiens – Native to hot, humid climates, impatiens are pretty and thrive in shadier summer gardens. They do need a lot of water though.
- Nasturtium – Producing cheerful orange, yellow, and red edible blooms, nasturtium is an attractive trailing annual that does well in hot, dry locations.
- Verbena – Verbena comes in a wide range of colors and blooms reliably from spring through fall. They love full sun.
- Madagascar periwinkle – This is a tough plant that, once established, will tolerate drought and heat. Delicate flowers and glossy leaves make the Madagascar periwinkle an attractive groundcover in partial shade.