Do you have areas that get very hot full sun and nothing seems to survive? These 22 heat-tolerant edible plants to grow in HOT full-sun locations will help you grow productive edible gardens. I’ve been growing food here in Perth, Australia for the last 10 years, and let me tell you, it was a big change and learning curve coming from the lush green of new Zealand.
Today, I’m sharing some plant ideas to plant in those super hot locations but keep reading to the end because it’s not just about what you plant but also when and how! Bonus tips on that, so you can turn your hot barren wasteland into productive edible gardens.
Click to WATCH 22 heat-tolerant edible plants
22 Heat-tolerant Edible Plants
Attracts bees 🐝 Has healing properties and is great for skin and hair care. Flavour enhancing culinary herb🌿 When I first moved here I wondered why so many houses had Rosemary hedges out the front – and it’s because it thrives on neglect and our poor sandy soils. Rosemary is a great heat-tolerant addition to your edible garden. Try making your own Rosemary Salt.
2. Strawberry Guava
Strawberry/cherry and lemon cherry guavas are really hardy, low-maintenance fruit trees, that produce bucketloads of fruit!
Another powerhouse perennial that survives on neglect – they grow super fast so you can use these as a nanny plant or a pioneer plant. If you have a barren hot area you could plant a Mulberry to get quick shade established and later on remove it or heavily prune if it gets too big. Mulberry also loses leaves in winter to let light in.
Lavender is drought tolerant – a great pollinator plant with many medicinal (calming and sleep) and culinary uses. In my garden (which will be different with climates and varieties) Lavender flowers at the same time as my Feijoas so I have it planted in between them to attract pollinators and increase my Feijoa harvests.
5. Feijoa / Pineapple Guava
If you have been following me on Instagram or subscribed to my YouTube you will have guessed this plant would make the list 😂 Low maintenance, super hardy, and produced plenty of food! Feijoas do taste better when they get 50 chill hours a year so they aren’t optimally grown here in Perth but they do grow well and are drought-tolerant. They are evergreen and super bushy so can be grown as an edible hedge. They are known to have fire retardant qualities which is very handy for hot dry climates. If you are looking to purchase a Feijoa, choose a named variety (such as Duffy, White Goose, Mammoth plus more) as these will perform better and produce fruit faster than generic seedling plants.
Passionfruit is an edible vine that can be used to cover a fence, structure or grown over an arbor to create shade. This can help cool your garden down and provide delicious fruit. Passionfruit flowers can also be used to make calming teas to aid in sleep and anxiety. NOTE: Avoid planting a grafted variety the grafts takeover and become invasive, hard to get rid of, and don’t produce good fruits.
Citrus like full sun and once established can thrive in hot environments. Avoid planting new trees before or during the hot summer so that they have time to get their roots established before the added stress of summer.
8. Lemon Verbena
A fragrant lemony scent that is similar to lemongrass. Lemon Verbena is great in teas, baking, and all the things!
A hardy fruiting tree that thrives in hot environments.
Loquats are hardy fruit trees that thrive in hot conditions. Loquats can be a pest plant because they grow so easily and birds spread the seeds so check with your local area.
11. Lilly Pilly
Part of the Syzygium genus is a great dense evergreen hedging plant with bright pink fruits. The fruits are edible and can be made into jams, sauces, and even sparking wine!
12. NZ Spinach / Warrigal Greens
NZ Spinach unlike most spinach can be grown over summer. Although not technically spinach it can be used just as you would use spinach. NZ Spinach grows as a tick edible ground cover to protect the soil and provide nutritious greens.
13. Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach grows as a climbing vine and can be used to grow up structures and provide shade in summer. With succulent-type leaves, the Malabar Spinach does well in hot conditions but does not like frosts.
Quince is a hardy fruiting tree that thrives in hot conditions. Quince is great for making preserves such as jams, jelly, and chutney.
Zinnia is an edible flower that thrives in hot dry conditions. Zinnia has vibrant flowers in a huge range of colours. The great thing about Zinnia is that it produces nectar so it attracts a diverse range of pollinators to the garden such as bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and small birds. Zinnia is susceptible to powdery mildew so great for dry summers.
I love growing Sunflowers because they attract a huge amount of pollinators to the garden and you can pretty much eat the whole plant! I use the petals fresh in a salad or press to use on baking as garnishes. The seeds can be used on top of salads, to make oil, or to make spreads and the leaves are also edible. Sunflower stems can even be made into flour! Sunflowers also help remove toxins from the soil so they are a fantastic addition to a hot full-sun garden.
Figs are hardy edible plants that can easily be grown from cuttings. Figs are great for hot locations and the fruit can be used for jams, relish, baking, and just enjoyed fresh!
Olives grow well in hot conditions and also in pots and containers. They are beautiful-looking plants with their slim silvery leaves. Olives can be used to make oils and delicious preserves. Olive leaves also have many medicinal qualities.
Grapes are great for growing over structures to provide shade to your garden and help other plants grow. Grapes are deciduous so they lose their leaves in winter to let light in and have full leaf coverage in summer to protect from the harsh midday sun. Grape plants have so many uses from fresh delicious table grapes to jams, preserves, and wine! grape leaves also have many uses in the kitchen.
Hollyhocks are an edible flowers that can grow up to 10 feet tall! They attract 100 of pollinators to the garden and their height acts as a flag inviting them in. The leaves are also edible and can be cooked to make wraps. Hollyhocks are an annual so they will need to be planted again each year but are so worth it! They can be susceptible to powdery mildew.
Thyme is a hardy herb that thrives in hot conditions. Thyme is very versatile in the kitchen and pairs well with tomato dishes, on pizza, and roast veggies. Thyme also produces masses of tiny white flowers that attracts an array of beneficial insects and pollinators. Thyme creeps over the ground so it makes a great edible ground cover plant.
22. Macadamia Nut
Macadamia nut trees can take a long time to start producing (5-7 years) but are really hardy and nuts are great additions to a homestead to make flour and milk from.
8 Tips for Successfully growing heat-tolerant edible plants
Many of these heat-tolerant plants listed are perennials and the reason perennials are so good for hot environments is that they have established roots and have time to get used to their environment. Annuals such as lettuce and tomatoes are planted new and have shallow roots so are more vulnerable to overheating.
Below are some tips to help you get your plants established and thriving through hot periods.
- Focus on good soil with plenty of organic matter
- Mulch, much, mulch
- Have water available nearby
- Avoid planting in hot weather (always check the forecast)
- Provide temporary protection such as shade cloth or umbrellas during hot periods.
- Grow nanny plants or pioneer plants (quick-growing trees that provide dappled shade in summer eg: grapes, mulberry, and deciduous fruit trees)
- Plant new trees in pots until after the summer heat has passed
- Plant densely – allow other plants to protect and shade each other and the soil.