Best Perennial Flowers for Sunny Gardens

Easy, Colorful, and Sun-loving Perennial Plants

Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby. You can also make it sustainable by growing drought-tolerant perennial plants that thrive in sunny spots, replacing grass which might require lots of water in the same location. Gardens are satisfying to plant, too, and seeing their colorful production gives you a sense of pride in your efforts, not to mention the pleasing view.

A convenient way to get started gardening is by planting perennials. Perennials are plants that come back year after year, maturing beautifully, and making them a great investment for your garden. As beginning gardeners, we have found that starting with full sun perennials offers you many, carefree, flowering options that will build your confidence and encourage you to add on to your garden each season.


Tips for Designing a Full Sun Garden

Plan the layout of your garden: Before you start planting, it's important to consider the layout of your garden. Think about the size and shape you want to allocate to your garden, as well as the types of plants you want to grow.

Once you’ve selected the area, observe the hours of sunlight the space gets each day. So you can select the right plants.

Choose the right plants: When choosing plants for your full sun garden, keep this in mind as a general rule:

  • Full sun plants need 6 or more hours of direct sun per day.
  • Part sun or part shade plants need four to six hours of sun per day.
  • Shade plants do best with less than six hours of sun. Plants that prefer shade tolerate morning sun better than the afternoon’s harsher rays.

Know your USDA Hardiness Zone and plant mainly perennials that are recommended for your area. You can plant tender perennials outside of your Zone but plan to uproot them in fall and protect the bulbs, corms, and tubers over the winter. You can always plant perennials outside of your Zone as annuals, too.

Some popular sun-loving perennials that thrive in a large portion of the continental US include daylilies, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, and salvia (more information of these flowers below).

Have a focal point: To add interest and a professional look to your garden, consider creating an eye-catching focal point. This could be a vining plant, mass planting, birdbath, pergola, or any particularly showy plant.

Use contrasting colors: To make your garden more visually appealing, use contrasting colors. For example, pair purple salvia with yellow black-eyed Susans, or pink coneflowers with blue catmint. Whatever color combination you choose, you can repeat the color scheme. You don’t necessarily have to plant the same species of plant, but a repetition of color is visually appealing.

Consider the height of your plants: When planting your garden, consider the height of your plants. Place taller plants towards the back of the garden, and shorter plants towards the front. This will create a garden that has a sense of order.


Flower Recommendations for Full Sun Gardens

It’s hard to choose favorites but these five popular heat tolerant, full sun perennials grow from Zones 3-9 (for most varieties within the genus) and that means they are recommended for most of the U.S. mainland.

Daylilies: Daylilies are easy to grow and come in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, and pink. They bloom in mid-summer and are perfect for adding a pop of color to your garden.

Black-eyed Susans: Black-eyed Susans are native to North America and are a favorite of butterflies and bees. They have bright yellow petals with a dark brown center and bloom from mid-summer to early fall.

Coneflowers: Coneflowers, also known as echinacea, are another native North American plant. They have distinctive pink or purple petals that surround a spiky center cone. Coneflowers bloom from mid-summer to early fall.

Salvia: Salvia, also known as sage, has tall spikes of flowers in shades of blue, purple, and pink. They bloom from mid-summer to early fall and are great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

Catmint: Catmint is a low-maintenance plant with silvery-green foliage and spikes of blue-purple flowers. It blooms from late spring to early summer and is perfect for adding color to the front of your garden.

Don’t limit yourself to this short list! Peonies are terrific partners to daylilies and love the sun, too. Roses and clematis are perfect sun-loving companions. There’s agastache, heuchera, verbena … you get the idea. From the home page, filter your options by sun requirements and your growing zone to create a customized shopping list that will be easy growing for years to come with perennials for full sun.

Sun Loving Perennials infographic