Any suggestions on what I can plant on the south side of my house amongst the flowers? It can be very warm in the middle of summer, but I want to utilize every available space.
Try different types of peppers. They seem to come in every color imaginable and they would probably look nice amongst the flowers.
You could also try eggplants, okra and sweet potatoes. They all like warmer climates.
Last summer, I grew quite a few different peppers. The ancho/Anaheims were great. They produced well - long and firm and when red ripe, I dried them for making into pepper sauces or ground for spice use. Also, the small Thai peppers and the prolific multi-colored ones would blend in nicely with flowers. They look like miniature X-mas lights.
Also habaneros - grow on small bushes - and are great for making into hot jellies that are becoming so popular.
So many varieties to chose from - heat lovers.
Just my 2 c's.
My first summer in Phoenix the only vegetable that survived was something called "Armenian cucumbers". I rather liked eating them raw with my lunch.
Oh I think something like the burgundy okra plant would be especially nice and colorful. Also, you could try growing some colorful pole beans on a trellis as a nice backdrop to your flowers -- something like a yellow or purple pole bean or even a variety like Rattlesnake Snap. Several different varieties of eggplant would be really pretty too -- like Casper or one of the purple/whites like Rosa Bianca. And other idea for a trellis plant could be the Lemon Cucumber -- those are very pretty and colorful. I have to agree with several of the other people who have posted about the peppers -- there are so many different colors and shapes that would be very attractive mixed along with flowers.
Here is a link that might be useful: Judy's Square Foot Garden Blog
Yard long beans.
--Amaranth--red, green, or multi-colored leaves, cool flowers
--Southern peas (also called field peas, black-eyed, or crowders)
--Yard long beans--some come in pinks and purples
--a giant Pumpkin
--Okra has beautiful flowers
--Roselle is the hibiscus that red zinger tea comes from
--Sweet potatoes have beautiful vines and flowers--tho the flowers hide under the leaves
Vicky's Garden blog!
How hot are we talking here? If you live in Zone 3, I would imagine that the hottest weather isn't particularly prolonged. You could probably do some regular beans and tomatoes, along with the southern specialties mentioned above. If in doubt, pick one of the bush bean varieties which is noted for heat tolerance. Bush or short internode tomatoes can be attractive with flowers.
The reason that Armenian cucumbers survive in Phoenix is that they are melons rather than cucumbers. I grow a "real" cucumber on the fence here (Summer Dance from Pinetree) which hold up well in summer without getting bitter. But melons do well even in desert climates.
And speaking of melons, you could also try some short-season melons on a trellis to soak up some of that reflected heat. Prepare the ground well. Cut back on water as they ripen. Edonis (an early Charentais type) comes to mind, as the weather may cool off before melons ripen in your climate, and Charentais types are known for good quality in cooler growing conditions. Or try Minnesota Midget, Jenny Lind or (if your season is long enough) Haogen, which I like to grow on a fence. If cold weather catches your melons in the fall, some of the honeydew and Spanish melons are good even before they are ripe, as sort of sweet cucumber substitutes.
You also might be able to start some of the cabbage family of vegetables in summer, to mature and sweeten in cooler fall weather.
You might also think about putting in a pair of cold frames next fall (with insulated sides extending below ground level). If you put a soil heating cable in one (cheap heat source) you could make one of the cold frames into a hot bed. This would extend your growing season quite a bit, with greens in late fall and early spring, and a place to grow future transplants (in the hot bed) and harden them off (in the cold frame). You could either take the covers off in summer and grow flowers and veggies inside, or replace them with shade cloth for salad greens in hot weather.
And think about some edible flowers, too.
I would not put sweet potatoes in with other flowers plants...my experience, albeit limited to one season..was that 9 sweet potatoe plants too over every inch of my garden and they rooted everywhere and everywhere they rooted, I had to dig up to get the potatoes...NOW mind you, I am not complaining, I had a whole bunch of very yummy sweet potatoes..but I would not have been happy having to dig them out of a flower bed...that would be a bad arrangement...
I would maybe plant herbs, like basil and cilantro and parsley, or mint (although it spreads like crazy) Swiss chard is a great one too and I've had great success growing it from seed. (even the dollar store seeds took off at almost 100% germination) I think as long as you are watering regularly (the chard will wilt if left in the direct heat without good moist soil) I would think those things would be ok.
I have also grown peppers in my flower beds and tomatoes too. and I planted about 100 garlic bulbs all throughout the flower beds this fall.
rjinga, your post brought a smile to my face.. I too had a similar experience with sweet potatoes. After planting these 2 or maybe 3 years, I dediced that I did not want to do battle with the sweet potato runners anymore. Instead, I prefer to stick to the "less aggressive" vegetables.
Although they do sell those fancy-leaved sweet potatoes in the flower section. One of the black-leaved varieties has edible tubers, as I recall. But my friend from Mexico cautions against sweet potatoes near the house because they attract mice and other rodents.
One way to keep the (smaller-growing ornamental) sweet potatoes from taking over the bed is to allow the vine to tumble over the side of a big container. If you wanted to, you could have a container for spring bulbs (to which you could add cold-tolerant greens and violas), one for summer flowers and veggies, and one for chrysanthemums and fall veggies. You could move the out-of-season pots to a less-conspicuous location.
And I really like the idea of putting trellises behind your flowers and veggies in that precious southern exposure. If you get a rectangular pre-framed lattice panel, you can rest it on a board nailed to stakes pounded into the ground, a few inches from the house. If you have a straight eave on the house on the south side, you can hinge the trellis at the bottom and secure it with chains to the eaves. When it is time to weed or clean the trellises or paint the house, simply unhook from the eaves and lower the trellis on its hinges. If you don't have a straight eave, you could hinge the lattice panels to uprights pounded into the ground, like a door. If you leave the trellis up all year, you can string Christmas lights without climbing up to the roof.
Vertical-growing veggies would reduce reflected heat for the flowers and veggies in front. Along with melons and pole beans, you could try colorful runner beans (Thompson and Morgan have a large variety - choose an early one). They quit setting flowers in really hot weather, but then start up again as the weather cools. They attract hummingbirds. Pick beans young. They will most likely have a string, but are very sweet. You could add a few vining nasturtiums (edible).
You could tie indeterminate tomatoes to a trellis, too. Burpee's Fourth of July is very early (for your short season) and produced well for me even in very hot weather. The plant would get gangly without support. There are also some vining Italian summer squashes (related to butternuts) and edible gourds which look lush on a trellis, too. I have thought that they would make a good summer shade arbor. They are vigorous.