20 Perennials for Full Sun

Pump up the color in your garden’s sunny spots with perennials that love rays.

May 18, 2020

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Anthony Tesselaar Plants

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Altman Specialty Plants

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Perennial Resource

Photo By: Image courtesy of North Creek Nurseries

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Photo By: Burpee

Sun-Loving Perennials

Want carefree color? Fill your garden with perennials that thrive in full sun. Perennials stage a reliable show every year without heavy duty input, and sunny spots can host a wide array of plants. With the right mix of perennials, you can savor seasonal color from summer to fall frost.

'Ruby Spider' Daylily

Daylilies open more flowers when they’re planted in full sun, and 'Ruby Spider' is no exception. This stunning beauty unfurls ruby flowers up to 9 inches across. Each bloom displays a contrasting gold throat. Plants are hardy in Zones 3 to 9. Botanical name: Hemerocallis 'Ruby Spider.'

Mountain Marigold

Sunny yellow blossoms blanket this shrubby perennial in full sun settings. This tough plant thrives in thin, chalky soil and is drought tolerant once established. Flowering occurs during short day cycles. Expect blooms from fall until first frost in early winter. Plants are hardy in Zones 8 to 10. Botanical name: Tagetes lemmonii.

'Purrsian Blue' Catmint

This perennial has it all — deer resistance, drought tolerance and a long flowering period from early summer to fall frost. Catmints can be somewhat sprawling in the garden, but ‘Purrsian Blue’ tames the sprawl to a tidy 2 feet. Plants are hardy in Zones 3 to 8. Botanical name: Nepeta faassenii.

'Leapfrog' Foamy Bells

'Leapfrog' gives any garden a jolt of bright color. Leaves are chartreuse with burgundy centers in spring, fading to green with purple centers as summer heat builds. Plants can withstand full sun, heat and humidity. Provide humus-rich, well-drained soil. Plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 9. Botanical name: Heucherella 'Leapfrog.'

'Banana Cream' Shasta Daisy

If you have a thing for daisies, you’ll love the classic blooms on this one. Flowers open lemon yellow, then mature to creamy white. The 4- to 5-inch blooms cover plants all summer long. Plants are hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Botanical name: Leucanthemum superbum ‘Banana Cream.’

'Kobold' Liatris

Include several clumps of liatris so you have plenty of stems to cut for bouquets. This pretty bloomer adds a strong vertical element to gardens. The flower spikes beckon butterflies and other pollinators. Liatris is a great choice for southern gardens because it can take the heat. Plants are hardy in Zones 3 to 9. Botanical name: Liatris spicata 'Kobold.'

Lemon Drop Evening Primrose

Meet a perennial that has it all. This sunny bloomer is heat and drought tolerant, deer resistant, fragrant and can take the heat. Flowers start opening in spring and continue right to frost. Plants are hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Botanical name: Oenothera hybrid.

'Midnight Marvel' Hibiscus

Full sun brings out the darkest leaf tones in this perennial hibiscus. Flowers open a bright cherry red and measure 8 to 9 inches across. A compact size tops out at 4.5 feet tall. Plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 9. Botanical name: Hibiscus 'Midnight Marvel.'

'First Sunrise' Red Hot Poker

Get ready for hummingbirds and butterflies when you plant red hot poker. This is a more compact hybrid, growing to about 3 feet tall. Flowers start appearing in early summer. Plants are hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Botanical name: Kniphofia 'First Sunrise.'

'Pardon My Cerise' Bee Balm

Welcome this bee balm to even the smallest gardens with its tidy 18-inch height. Dark cherry pink blooms are full size, measuring 2 to 3 inches across. Flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and all kinds of bees. Plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 9. Botanical name: Monarda didyma.

'Hameln' Dwarf Fountain Grass

Deep green leaves form a clump that’s usually 2 feet high. The bottlebrush seedheads appear in late summer and linger into early winter. This is a good grass for both wet and dry areas. Plants are hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Botanical name: Pennisetum alopecuroides.

Sedum 'Autumn Fire'

The easy-to-grow, low-maintenance sedum 'Autumn Fire' appears in late summer and thrives in arid climates. The blooms of rosy pink flowers age to a salmon bronze and finish with a deep coppery red. Botanical name: Hylotelephium spectabile 'Autumn Fire.'

'Blue Heaven' Agapanthus

Also known as Lily of the Nile or African Lily, these exotic-looking plants bring the rarest flower color to your garden: blue. 'Blue Heaven,' hardy in Zones 7 to 11, is a disease- and pest-free variety that produces majestic sky blue flowers on 3 foot stems surrounded by strap-like leaves. They bloom in midsummer and then again in early fall. Give them full sun and moist soil. Plant them in masses in a border and plan on dividing them every couple of years as they spread and make free plants for you. Best of all, butterflies love them and deer don’t. Botanical name: Agapanthus africanus 'Blue Heaven.'

Butterfly Weed

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a nuisance plant. Asclepias tuberosa is a native wildflower that thrives in meadows and along roadsides, but belongs in your garden, too. Butterfly Weed produces vivid orange and yellow blooms that attract monarch butterflies. Butterfly weed leaves and nectar are monarchs’ favorite food, so plant butterfly weed in clumps for a colorful show of flowers and lots of butterfly visitors. It’s super easy to grow, drought tolerant and not picky about soil.

Pro Tip: Use butterfly weed's dried seed pods in arrangements.

'Magnus' Coneflower

No flower garden is complete without coneflowers. These sun-loving plants are hardy, drought-tolerant and long blooming. They love heat and humidity, and attract birds, bees and butterflies. They’re perfect for cottage, butterfly or wildflower gardens as well as perennial borders. They’re not picky about soil, either, as long as it’s well-drained. Coneflowers come in a slew of hybrids, but 'Magnus' is one of the hardiest and easiest to grow. Oh, they make great cut flowers, too. Botanical name: Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus.'

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'

Commonly called black-eyed Susans, these cheery, daisy-like flowers bloom all summer. 'Goldsturm’ is the hardiest and most disease-resistant variety of black-eyed Susan. Plant them in masses on a border for a sea of yellow blooms from May to first frost. Just keep deadheading them and they’ll keep making new flowers. They’re not picky about their soil and make a good cutting flower. Put them at the top of your list of sun-loving perennials. Botanical name: Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm.'

'Firewitch' Dianthus

Dianthus plants are an old garden favorite. 'Firewitch,' developed about 20 years ago, is an especially hardy variety that’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. Also called a Garden Pink, this fragrant rose-pink flower with blue-gray foliage belongs in your garden. It’s hardy in Zones 3 to 9, and butterflies love it so it’s perfect for a butterfly or pollinator garden. It’s a compact plant, reaching 8 inches tall and 18 inches wide, so plant it in the front of a border or in a rock garden. Botanical name: Diantus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch.'

'The President' Canna Lily

Cannas bring a lush, exotic look to your garden. 'The President' is a classic, heirloom canna variety, with large red flowers on dark green foliage that is a magnet for hummingbirds. Cannas thrive in hot summer weather but need regular watering. These sun-loving plants are perennial in Zones 7 to 10 but you can dig them up and store them for replanting in colder climates. They reach about 3 feet tall and bloom from midsummer to first frost. Pair them with other tropical-looking plants like agapanthus and crocomisia. Botanical name: Canna indica 'The President.'

'Wendy's Wish' Salvia

Salvias are a staple of perennial gardens, but 'Wendy’s Wish' is one of the best, producing intensely hued magenta blooms with a citrus scent. They bloom from May to October, standing up to as much heat and drought as summer can dish out. Provide well-drained soil and tons of sun for maximum flower power. Botanical name: Salvia hybrida 'Wendy's Wish.'

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