Top 10 Full Sun Perennials That Thrive in Sunshine
These flowering full sun perennials are easy to grow and won't wilt under the summer sunshine. Plus, the hardworking plants pop up each year.
Flowering Perennials That Love Full Sun
Annuals are likely your go-to’s for full sun summer flowers, but some perennials give them a run for their money. These full sun perennials are tough, dependable and flower for weeks. That’s a bonus for pollinators, because they’ll have a source of food every year. Perhaps best of all, buying perennials means you only pull out your wallet once, then sit back and reap the rewards of money well-spent.
“Perennials are a worthwhile investment,” says Justin Hancock, horticulturist at Costa Farms, one of the largest growers in North America. “They give you tons of blooms over the course of months and come back every year, so every season, the display is better than the year before. Who doesn’t love the idea of planting something once that blooms constantly and comes back every year?” At the garden center this spring, reach for these resilient and beautiful full sun perennials.
Psst—also check out the top 10 summer flowering shrubs for full sun.
Courtesy Krista Kuskye
This purple beauty is a common grower in prairie plantings everywhere and for good reason: It succeeds in a wide range of conditions. A dependable performer in the intense heat and blazing full sun conditions of summer, it never fails to please with its large, colorful flowers. Growing 2 to 5 feet tall, coneflower traditionally offers purplish pink petals surrounding golden disks, but newer cultivars are white, yellow, orange, tomato red and pink. Zones 3 to 8.
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Photo courtesy of Proven Winners, www.provenwinners.com
Becky is a common cultivar with a classic look that will put a smile on your face. Divide Shasta daisies every three years to invigorate the blooms and encourage longevity. The large 3- to 4-inch-wide flowers bloom from midsummer into fall if deadheaded. These sturdy, upright plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall, so they won’t overpower your garden. Zones 4 to 9.
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Also known as mullein pink and dusty miller, rose campion is a short-lived perennial that never seems to disappear. Because it self seeds freely, young plants are always ready to take over. Plants reach 2 to 3 feet, with bright magenta flowers that rise above velvety gray foliage. Some cultivars have white or red flowers, or white blooms with pink centers. Drought tolerant. Zones 4 to 8.
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Walters Gardens, Inc.
Gardeners grow this popular perennial for many reasons: it’s deer resistant; it tolerates heat, wind, drought and poor soil; and pollinators love it. Plus it blooms for a good, long time. The purplish blue flowers appear from midsummer to early fall, complementing the aromatic gray-green foliage. Russian sage grows 3 to 5 feet tall and features a relaxed, open habit. To avoid having to stake, place Russian sage in back of a sturdy companion to keep it upright. Or choose a dwarf form that matures at about 2¹/₂ feet. Zones 4 to 9.
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Walters Gardens, Inc.
Butterfly Blue pincushion flower deserves a starring role in more full sun perennial gardens. For starters, its lavender-blue flowers are butterfly magnets. The unique blooms, which rise up on 12- to 15-inch wiry stems, look like miniature pincushions and produce blooms from spring to frost. Because of its small size and long bloom period, Butterfly Blue is well-suited for the front of sunny borders. Zones 3 to 7.
Walters Gardens, Inc.
Moonbeam coreopsis is worthy of a spot in the garden just for its airy green foliage. But in summer, it’s topped by a profusion of creamy yellow flowers, providing all the more reason to plant it. Shear the spent flowers to get extra blooms in fall. Moonbeam grows 12 to 18 inches tall and makes a nice front-of-border plant. It’s not only tolerant of heat and humidity; it does well in dry, rocky soils. Zones 3 to 9.
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Courtesy Heidi Kelly
Black Eyed Susan
Most black-eyed Susans are well-known for having a long bloom period, but Little Goldstar takes it up one notch. Its bright golden yellow flowers with chocolate centers appear from midsummer to early fall. These butterfly favorites grow 2 to 3 feet tall and are sturdy enough to stand without staking. They’ll adapt to dry and moist soils and even heavy clay, but they do best in a sunny spot with well-draining soil with ample moisture. Little Goldstar looks great in a border or container. Deer resistant. Zones 4 to 8.
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Walters Gardens, Inc.
Strawberry Seduction yarrow is a beauty, thanks to the clusters of dusty red flowers with yellow centers that appear throughout the summer. The flowers are small but numerous, rising 18 to 24 inches and fading to hues of light pink and brown. Yarrow tends to spread, so divide plants every few years to contain it. Zones 3 to 9.
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Sedum is officially a lazy gardener’s best friend: plant it and forget it. Popular cultivars such as Autumn Joy grow only 18 to 24 inches tall and feature attractive blue-green succulent leaves that resist animal browsing. Grow sedum in well-draining soil and full sun for best results. This mounded perennial looks great in late summer and early fall, when flowers mature to pink or rusty red, depending on the cultivar. The flowers are attractive even after they turn brown, so leave them for winter interest. Zones 3 to 8.
Sunny Border Blue veronica produces a dense clump of crinkled green foliage topped by violet-blue flower spikes from summer to fall if deadheaded. Sunny Border Blue grows 18 to 24 inches tall. For shorter plants, try Royal Candles. A pollinator favorite, veronica also makes a perfect cut flower. It is adaptable to different soils as long they drain well. Zones 4 to 8.
Add veronica plants to your cottage garden.
Courtesy Sherry Belsher
Maximize Full Sun Perennial Blooms
Use these tips to get the most from your full sun perennials.
- Keep up with deadheading. “By removing faded flowers, you give the plants the opportunity to recycle energy into producing more flowers rather than seeds,” says Justin Hancock, horticulturist at Costa Farms. The only exception: Leave late-season flowers in place for winter interest and to feed wildlife.
- Plant your perennials in the right spot. When a perennial gets the right amount of sunlight and moisture, it produces more, and often bigger, flowers. Here’s how to safely transplant perennials. Good soil prep helps, too. If you have poor soil, adding lots of composted organic matter before planting can make a huge difference.
- Include perennials with a range of overlapping bloom times. Intermix some self-seeding annuals, such as larkspur in spring and cleome in summer and fall, to really stretch the show.