Full-Sun Perennials

Fill your yard’s sunny spots with sun loving perennials for season-long color.

Unique Yarrow

Unique Yarrow

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Yarrow is a hardy and versatile perennial with fernlike leaves and colorful blooms. The large, flat topped flower clusters are perfect for cutting and drying. Perfect plant for adding interest to a garden bed.

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Treat yourself to a yard full of color, thanks to sun loving perennials. Designing a garden is easy when you work with full sun perennials. Many gardeners readily admit that crafting a colorful sun garden proves quicker than creating a color-rich full shade display. Full sun perennials open flowers in many different hues and forms, assuring an interesting planting composition from the start.

Full sun perennials thrive when they receive at least six hours of sun per day. These sun loving perennials can survive with less sun. In part sun or part shade, full sun perennials just won’t achieve their utmost potential in terms of plant size and flower number. The plant will still bloom; you just won’t have as many flowers as you’d see in a full sun setting.

One other tip that’s helpful to know is that sun requirements vary by region. A sun loving perennial that thrives in eight hours of sun in Vermont may need shade from the hot afternoon sun in the Deep South, Texas, Southern California or the Southwest. At the same time, full sun perennials may fail to thrive in the cloud cover of a Pacific Northwest summer. Talk to local gardeners or experts at your favorite garden center to learn of any specifics pertaining to growing full sun perennials in your region.

You might design a cottage garden filled with full sun perennials. This mix of colorful, carefree abandon could include blue and purple hued bloomers like tall Delphinium hybrids, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) and ‘Grosso’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’). Include pink full sun perennials to blend with the blue tones by adding pink daylilies (Hemerocallis), rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) and pink coreopsis (Coreopsis rosea). Finish off your cottage garden with white Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum superbum ‘Becky’) and silvery lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina). 

Butterfly gardens are a natural fit for full sun perennials because butterflies depend on sunlight to warm themselves. Include sun loving perennials like purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), thread-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) and blazing star (Liatris spicata). For fall color, plant full sun perennials ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) and New England aster (Aster novae-angliae). 

Many full sun perennials have attributes that allow them to grow in drought prone settings. These features include things like a taproot, thick leaves for storing water or silver leaves that reflect sunlight. It’s typical that drought tolerant full sun perennials need well-drained soil, and many benefit from a stone mulch, which reflects heat to warm the sun loving plants. 

Full sun perennials that fit this drought tolerant theme include catmint (Nepeta x faassenii), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) and firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii).

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