What Are the Best Flowers to Plant in the Sun?


Some like it hot; some like it cold. The old, peas-porridge ditty works for flowers as well. Some garden flowering plants appreciate shade, but others thrive in direct summer sunlight. The latter plants are the ones to grow in areas of your yard that get six or more hours of full-sun exposure each day. Put in both annuals and perennials. Then watch them blossom as the sunshine pours down like honey and the summer temperatures rise.

A Bouquet of Sun-Loving Annuals

Annuals grow, bloom and die in the same year. Most of them grow best in sunny sites. So your best-sun bucket list of annuals will be a long one indeed. Try several options for flowery fun in the sun:

  • Vinca (Catharanthus roseus)
    Vinca thrives as a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, where it is considered invasive. It can be grown anywhere as an annual in summer sun, however, and removed at the end of the growing season or grown in containers. Vinca produces a profusion of flowers in shades of lilac, pink and white, often with darker eyes. It flowers from June until a frost.
  • Petunias (Petunia spp.)
    Like vinca, sun-loving petunias are perennials in USDA zones 10 through 11, but gardeners grow them as annuals in other regions.  These plants produce bright blooms from May through fall frosts in every shade imaginable except brown. Easy-care annuals, petunias offer vibrant colors and fragrance.
  • Zinnias (Zinnia spp.)
    Plant the annuals zinnias in a spot exposed to direct sun for non-stop blossoms from June through the first frosts. Their hairy, branching stems grow as high as 4 feet, and different cultivars bear types of blossoms ranging from single to double and ruffled to cactus in shades of red, yellow, orange, rose, purple, green and white.

A Selection of Perennials for Sunny Beds

Perennial plants live for several or many years. Often the upper portion of a perennial dies back in fall but its roots remain alive beneath the soil. The following spring, the upper portion of the plant grows back, offering new foliage and blooms.

Not every perennial does well in summer sun, but flowering perennials that thrive in hours of daily full-sun exposure are not hard to find. A few perennials to try include:

  • M**aximilian sunflower** (_Helianthus maximiliani_)
    Sunflower blossoms turn from east to west as the sun passes through the sky.  Each maximilian sunflower plant offers numerous butter-yellow blossoms from summer through October, attracting butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife. The plant's thick stalk grows up to 10 feet tall. Maximilian sunflower is perennial in USDA zones 3 through 9.
  • 'Rozanne' hardy geranium (Geranium 'Rozanne')
    Imagine hundreds of violet-blue blossoms with white eyes crowding a 1- to 2-foot bush.  That is a description of the 'Rozanne' cultivar of one of the most popular perennials in the United States, the hardy geranium. 'Rozanne' thrives in full sun and is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, where it offers a full season of blossoms year after year.
  • 'Becky' Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky')
    The flowers of the Shasta daisy cultivar 'Becky' are large, as white as stars and have yellow centers. The stalks of 'Becky' can grow 3 to 4 feet tall but don't require staking. Planted in full sun, 'Becky' provides daisies from summer through the end of autumn. It is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8.

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