The dead heat of summer is no time to be watering. That's why we've zeroed in on five trouble-free plants perfect for a pool area, waterfront vacation home or a tropical backyard retreat. Select your garden site and prepare the soil within reason, then plant — keeping the soil evenly moist until they become established — and enjoy their beauty throughout the summer.
Hardy Banana (Musa basjoo) Widely adapted to a range of warm climates and soil conditions, this lush plant will make pool and garden areas exotic and elegant. Banana trees are well-known symbols of the tropics, and their incredibly large 3-foot leaves and height of 10 feet or higher offer extra privacy to make your pool area feel like an oasis.
Cabbage Leaf Cone-flower (Rudbeckia maxima) Large, clustered silver leaves belie this perennial form of black-eyed Susan. The 18-inch foliage is stunning and the architectural flower stems rise 7 feet, crowned by huge golden flowers with chocolate centers. Dramatic in both formal or natural settings, characteristically pest- and disease-free, and easy to grow. Also, goldfinches feed atop the flowers all summer long.
Dwarf Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila') Graceful and soft-textured, the blue-green blades of this grass form a rich 5-by-4-foot cluster, sending up, fluffy white plumes in late summer. Known as "beach plant," it's tolerant of coastal conditions and drought and thrives in hot, full sun.
Canna Lily "Tropicana" (Canna generalis ‘Tropicana') Tolerant of chloride and brackish water, this colorful perennial is a bold accent in any sunny garden location. Bright orange flowers bloom on 3-foot stems from early summer to frost, attracting humming-birds to your garden paradise.
Golden Spruce (Leaved Stonecrop Sedum ruspestre "Angelina") This brilliant-gold groundcover or accent plant is a sun-loving perennial. Its low-growing mat tops out at 4 inches, a beautiful accent in rock gardens, slopes or garden borders with no pest or disease problems to worry about. Great for planting by the pool and perfect for containers, this bright light in the garden is certain to please.