You can’t get away from it, the sun comes up, it gets hot, and some plants don’t like it, with fabric shade being used by some folks to shield sensitive plants from the blazing sun and afternoon heat. Cactus plants are the obvious choice for a hot spot, but they rarely add enough vibrant colour to your garden - some for not blooming for 30 years, so you would have to be patient!
But there are flowering plants that thrive in full sun. My wisteria – which usually does well in full sun - had done nothing last year and now looked like a bundle of dead twigs. On investigation, I found it really was a bundle of dead twigs as none of the interiors were green, so it was time to remove it.
I picked a Buddleia to replace it. This is a very pretty bush, with large, drooping spikes of densely clustered, small, purple (or sometimes white) flowers with a honey-like fragrance, and long, narrow leaves. It is officially known as Buddleja davidii, also called summer lilac or butterfly-bush. The downside - for me - is that it is a big pollinator that might attract bees and wasps into the vicinity of my kitchen! It will grow into a big bushy plant, and I am hopeful I can prune it to the shape I am looking for in due course.
Another one that enjoys the heat is the Coneflower, or echinacea, a sunny garden favourite for a reason - it adds a big bang of colour to the garden with its bright, colourful summer blooms that are one perfect option for a sunny garden, requiring little maintenance once established. Deep rooted, Coneflowers are known for their medicinal properties - the flowers supposedly can be dried and used as an immune system-boosting herbal infusion. Coneflower also makes a great cut flower, and are a favourite of butterflies and birds. These cheerful plants are both heat and drought tolerant champions once established and are a colourful perennial flower that returns year after year, much to the delight of both gardeners and pollinators.
If you haven’t grown Lantana before and have the space for it, it’s worth a try despite it being an invasive plant, as it will choke off anything it is planted next to, so keep it contained in its own bed. Nevertheless, this is a favourite because it loves the heat, withstands drought conditions, and unlike many plants that get scorched by hot afternoon sun, Lantana thrives in it and will bloom year-round to produce clusters of tiny pink, yellow, orange, white, or red flowers, drawing in pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. However, I must add that it takes some controlling – I have a bed of lantana that I am in the middle of cutting back, to literal 15-20cm stalks, as they have grown taller than me and are swamping other plants nearby. Be careful where you plant it too, as they contain the ingredient triterpenoid, an extremely dangerous toxin for dogs as well as other animals and children. If consumed, triterpenoid can damage your dog's hepatic system (gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver). Oh, and it’s a bit smelly.
Another is the old favourite, Geranium, seen everywhere in all Mediterranean regions, and nothing brightens up a balcony better than a collection of pots of them, but they do equally well straight into your garden. There are many varieties to pick from - traditional flame red or in shades of white, pink, purple, mauve, orange, and reddish-black. Geranium leaves can be green, gold, yellowy green, bronze, red, multi-coloured, or patterned. Dead-heading them will keep the blooms coming all season, but they will not survive winter freezes, so you should either discard them at the end of the growing season, or take cuttings, and keep indoors or a greenhouse for the winter. Another option for overwintering is to remove all the soil and store them bare-rooted in a large paper sack in the cool.
This is not an exhaustive list, as there are plenty of others to choose from that might suit your garden better.
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.