There’s nothing more enjoyable than a collection of bright, bold flowers filling a summertime garden. That said, the sheer amount of flowers to choose from be overwhelming. Our list of 20 of the best flowers for full sun is a great place to start. In addition to arge shrubs that can fill a border, we also highlight smaller potted plants that will splash oodles of color onto your patio or balcony.
What do we Mean by Full Sun Flowers?
All plants need sunlight to grow. Some, however, prefer to sit in shaded positions, receiving lots of indirect light. Other plants do best when placed in a bright, sunny spot that receives exposure for most of the entire, day. These are full sun flowers.
Here is a list of some of the best flowers for full sun that can be grown in pots, containers, planters, or garden beds.
Amaranth is one of the best flowers for full sun, and can reach up to 8ft in height. Some varieties are grown for their flowers, such as Love-Lies-Bleeding with its long, mauve blooms. Others are grown for their leaves, like Joseph’s Cat, which produces brightly colored red and yellow leaves.
Most amaranth seeds are edible, and can be cooked like quinoa. As such, these stunning blooms aren’t just gorgeous: they can provide food for wild birds throughout the autumn and winter.
2. Blanket Flower
Also known as Gaillardia, this heat-resistant plant thrives in full sun. Its brightly colored red and yellow flowers provide blankets of color in borders and baskets throughout summer and fall. This also a popular plant with butterflies, so be sure to incorporate it into your beneficial pollinator garden.
Native to Australia, bottlebrush is a shrub that produces large puffy flowers throughout the year. You can grow bottlebrush in borders or containers, but it does like a bit of space. It’s popular with pollinators as well. Note that in cooler zones you’ll need to provide protection in the winter months.
Although it’s able to grow in partial shade, calliandra saves its best flowers for full sun. This is a small tree that will happily grow in a large pot, but will need some protection during the winter months. When in bloom, calliandra’s puffy flowers attract a range of wildlife, from pollinators to birds.
Celosia is related to amaranth, and produces brilliant, brightly colored, flame-like flowers. This makes it a distinctive addition to any garden. They’re annual plants, but can be considered semi-tropical perennials in USDA hardiness zones 9 -12.
This plant produces its flowers best in full sun, but can thrive in partial shade. One variant, the Celosia spicata, produces a more subtle flower that resembles a spike of wheat.
A brilliant yellow bloom, this is one of the best flowers for full positions. Coreopsis comes in both single and double flower varieties, such as Early Sunrise. The pale yellow Moonbeam variety is another favorite. If you don’t have much space, try the Nana dwarf coreopsis. It brings just as much color to your pots as the larger varieties.
Cosmos is a sun-loving flower that comes in a bright range of colors, including, scarlets, yellows, pinks, oranges, and white. It grows quickly and easily in just about any hardiness zone. Furthermore, as it’s a self-seeder, it will happily spread through your borders, if allowed.
This merry little member of the sunflower family is a robust addition to any garden. Taller varieties will happily dance in the breeze without any need for support.
8. Cypress Vine
The cypress vine’s thin, ferny leaves are offset by its tubular, star-shaped red flowers. As this vining plant can quickly achieve a 15ft spread, this may not be the best option for smaller spaces. Well, not unless you like to do a lot of pruning.
Cypress vines will require a trellis or something to climb over, as they can smother other plants without support. They’re hardy perennials in zones 8- 11, but can be overwintered in slightly milder climates. These vines grow quickly from seed, meaning that anyone outside these zones can grow the plant as an annual. This is a striking addition to any garden, if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Hibiscus is a low-maintenance shrub and one of the best flowers for full sun. It’s happy in floral borders, but will also grow in pots or containers. These are available in a myriad of colors, and tropical varieties will happily handle high temperatures.
The lantana flower’s distinctive blooms are often bi-colored or tri-colored, in various shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, and white. It’s one of the best flowers for full sun positions, and will flower throughout the summer. Although it’s often grown as a shrub you can train lantanas into small tree shapes.
Just be careful if you choose to grow lantana, as it’s quite poisonous and can cause skin irritations.
Lisianthus is an ornamental plant that will happily thrive in full sun, producing scores of beautiful flowers. These blooms can appear as single or double flowers in shades of purple, white, and pink. Some cultivars also produce picotee bicolors. Despite having a reputation for being difficult to grow, lisianthus is a durable flower that will happily fill your sun-soaked borders, once established and healthy.
These happy little garden favorites grow in most conditions, but they save their best flowers for full sun locations. Marigolds are ridiculously easy to grow, and come in a range of varieties. Choose from tall African marigolds to shorter French varieties, and all others in between.
Moonflower is a vining plant and one of the best flowers for full sun. It will happily grow in a large container, as well as a border. Its fragrant white flowers—which resemble the full moon—open in the evening. They fill your garden with a sweet, distinctive scent, and attract all kinds of pollinators.
These plants can reach a height of 15ft, and will flower throughout the year in the subtropics. In contrast, it will only bloom during the summer and fall in other climates.
Pentas are sometimes called Egyptian stars, because of their five-point flowers. These beauties are a magnet for pollinators such as bees as well as hummingbirds. Their beautiful flowers come in shades of white, lavender, red, and pink, and can pack borders or containers. They’re tropical plants in USDA Zones 9-11, where they’ll grow as perennials.
These really low-maintenance plants thrive in full sun, but can happily grow in shadier spots. Sedums are best grown in USDA hardiness zones 3 -10, and will cope with all but the most extreme heats and droughts. There are a range of varieties available, from tall Autumn Joy (which reaches around 3ft) to ground-covering varieties such as Tricolor.
16. Spider Flower
The spider flower is a distinctive additions to any garden. Also known as Cleome, this often-overlooked variety gets its common name from the thin “legs” that stick out from its blooms. While it’s a perennial in USDA Zones 8 -11, it can be grown as an annual in most climates. These are tall plants that thrive in the back of a border, and will happily self-seed throughout your garden.
17. Sun Rose
The sun rose (Portulaca), also known as a moss rose, is a colorful succulent. That means that even with a minimal amount of care, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, fast-growing flower that does best in full sun.
This succulent produces needle-like foliage with small, bright flowers. Its low growth habit makes it ideal as a groundcover in rock gardens, where it’s grown as an annual, or in hanging baskets.
The sunflower is an obvious addition to our list. In fact, planting a sunflower and seeing how tall it will grow is how most children begin gardening.
Today, sunflowers come in a range of rich reds, yellows, and oranges, and are also available in dwarf sizes. This means that you can grow sunflowers even if you only have a few pots on a patio. If you really want your sunflowers to stand out, the Tothonia, or Mexican sunflower, is a quick-growing plant that can reach up to 8ft.
This sun-loving plant thrives in most climates, as long as they have well-draining soil and are watered regularly. There are over 250 different species to choose from, from low-growing verbenas that provide copious ground cover, to the upright Verbena Rigida or the tall Verbena Bonariensis. These beauties bloom through summer and into fall.
This daisy-like flower originated in Mexico and Central America. It’s a low-maintenance plant that loves the sun and heat, and comes in a range of colors. Choose from bold golds and bright reds to peppermint green stripes and delicate pinks. This means that the zinnia is a popular plant with both gardeners and butterflies, and they also make great cut flowers.
As we have seen, sun-loving plants come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. Whatever your space or situation, you can add a bright flower or two, enhancing your garden and helping you love the summer months even more.