Crotons, commonly a house plant, will love the heat and humidity on your deck. Use it as the centerpiece in a large pot and change out the annuals around it as the seasons progress from spring to fall. "It is always the perfect color for whatever you are doing," said Kelley.

And, Kelley said, don't forget moonflower and hyacinth bean vine, which are not uncommon here but are considered tropicals. "And they are so easy to grow from seed. And they grow fast."

Tropicals not only love heat, they bring heat to the garden, with their hot colors and their vigorously blooming. And it looks like this season, they are going to be cool, too.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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Trending in the garden this summer



Tropicals are not the only trend for the gardening season. Here are 10 more:

Building habitats: We are all about habitat in the garden, providing housing for mason bees, bats and butterflies, as well as birds. Gardeners are recognizing the importance of so-called "beneficials" in the life of the garden.

Saving water: Experts say concern over the environment and the rising cost of water will motivate gardeners to create rain gardens to filter water before it returns to the earth and install rain barrels to collect water for plants. Planting drought-tolerant plants and natives are another way to conserve water. Compost is another way to recycle, and adding it to the soil helps it retain moisture.

Restoring heirlooms: We are rediscovering heirloom vegetables, with their amazing colors and wonderful flavors, both at farmers' markets and in our own vegetable gardens.

Miniatures: Tiny conifers and miniature varieties of flowering ground covers let us create dish gardens, fairy gardens and terrariums. Succulents are also trending up, and they are perfect for small, shallow planters.

Adding fun colors: Look for orange and blue to be this season's hot colors in annuals and perennials.

Growing fruit: It isn't just about strawberry patches or blueberry bushes anymore. Varieties of apple trees called columnars provide space-saving alternatives for homeowners. Some are no more than 18 inches wide.

Small-space gardening: Downsizing baby boomers, apartment dwellers and those new to gardening love growing vegetables in containers. Self-watering containers, raised container beds and grow bags are part of this trend.

Square-foot gardening: It is here to stay. With books, videos, classes, Web tools and phone apps, gardeners can learn how to get the most out of their vegetable gardens.

Reusables: Gardeners are invoking their whimsy and finding ways to repurpose items as diverse as old shoes, chairs and broken bits of bird baths as container gardens.

Cocktail gardens: Grow the herbs you want for entertaining: mint for mojitos, nasturtium blooms for salads and cilantro for salsa.

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