Warm Climate Container Gardening - Hot Weather Container Plants

Orange Flowering Container Plant
(Image credit: Yulia-B)

Growing plants in containers can be a challenge for those who live in warm climates. Constant heat and drought can take its toll on container gardens unless they are well planned. Still, that doesn't mean that container gardening is beyond your reach – far from it! Just follow these tips to ensure that your potted plants will make a beautiful statement all summer.

Warm Climate Container Gardening - Hot Weather Container Plants

Selecting hot weather container plants that include flowers, grasses, succulents, and herbs can help you create low maintenance, eye-catching containers. Warm climate container gardening requires: 

You must keep a close eye on watering needs; plants in containers dry out faster than in-ground plants. 

Container Gardening in Heat

Creating a heat tolerant container garden begins with the correct pot. It must be tall and wide enough to encompass several plants plus a little growing room. It is best not to overdo on size, which could lead to root rot. Pots can be color coordinated with the plant material or choose a low-key, neutral color such as light brown or gray. Plastic pots are ideal for retaining moisture and do well for tropical plants. Clay and unglazed ceramic pots dry out faster but provide air exchange through the sides of the pot and work well for succulents and cacti.

Choose a lightweight potting mix, preferably one with fertilizer. For cacti and succulent plants use a well-draining potting mix formulated for succulents. 

Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer such as 20-20-20 at the beginning of the season. Follow the directions on the package for the amount to use and how often but it should last about two months. 

During hot weather, check the containers daily for water needs. If the top couple of inches (5 cm.) of soil are dry, water slowly and thoroughly. If you have a lot of containers to water, you might consider adding an automatic drip irrigation system between the pots. 

The Best Container Plants for Hot Climates

When planting your containers, an easy way to get a professional look is to use a tall plant in the center (or the back if only the front is viewed) as a “thriller;” rounded, mid-size plants for the “filler;” and cascading or vining plants around the edge for the “spiller.”


  • Angelonia (A. angustifolia)
  • Canna lily (Canna spp.)
  • Cordyline (Cordyline) 
  • Century Plant (Agave americana)
  • Annual ornamental grasses


  • Lantana (L. camara)
  • Cockscomb (Celosia spp.)
  • Cigar Plant (Cuphea ‘David Verity’)
  • Crossandra (Crossandra infundibuliformis)
  • Pentas (Pentas lanceolata
  • Vinca (Catharanthus roseus)
  • Begonia spp. for shadier areas
  • SunPatiens (Impatiens spp.)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
  • Zinnia (Z. elegans)
  • Spreading Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
  • Melampodium (M. paludosum)
  • Mandevilla vine (Mandevilla)
  • Diamond Frost Euphorbia (E. graminea ‘Inneuphdia’)
  • Strawflower (Bracteantha bracteata)


  • Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox)
  • Spreading Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
  • Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora)
  • Million Bells (Calibrachoa hybrids)
  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
  • Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
  • Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)
  • Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Heat tolerant plants that look good alone in a container or combined with a spiller:

  • Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
  • Coral Plant (Russelia equisetiformis dwarf form)
  • Crossandra (Crossandra infundibuliformis)
  • Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias Currassavica)
  • Succulents such as aloe, echeveria, sedum
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Dwarf boxwoods (Buxus spp.)

With all these selections, warm climate container gardening can be a breeze. 

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to Lowes.com. While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.