10 Perennials That Thrive in Full Sun

Snow-in-summer (image) grows well in the Thuja Garden, Bar Harbor, Maine. It's a groundcover.
Picture: full-sun plant, snow-in-summer growing in the Thuja Garden near Bar Harbor, Maine. David Beaulieu

While dry, sunny areas of your yard may not be conducive to growing grass, sun-loving perennials thrive in these conditions. Many low growing plants, flowering herbs, and succulents provide creative additions to any full sun flower bed. But before you select the ideal location, make sure your landscaped area receives six hours or more of direct sunlight daily. Then, visit your nursery or garden center and pick drought-tolerant varieties that will look and grow great alongside each other.

Yellow Alyssum Flowers

Low-growing yellow alyssum tops the list for mat-forming ground covers. Grow it in areas where you'd prefer it to spread and cover unsightly bare patches. This flower—not to be confused with "sweet" alyssum—bears yellow flowers and makes a good focal point for the front of your garden. 

Snow-in-Summer

Second on the list of full-sun plants is a rock garden favorite, snow-in-summer. The picturesque name for this perennial is derived from its appearance in bloom—white flowers against a background of silver foliage. This low-growing variety loves to spread over sunny, well-lit areas and it pairs nicely with colorful blooms like roses and echinacea.

Lamb's Ear

Another full-sun plant with silvery foliage is lamb's ear. This low-maintenance perennial not only thrives in dry soil conditions, but it's also deer-resistant, too. Its velvety leaves are soft enough to snuggle up with and, come late summer, the lavender blooms add one more element to your flower ensemble.

Hens and Chicks

No, we're not talking about a barnyard here, but rather the hens and chicks plant, a sedum that consists of "parent" rosettes and tiny offspring (giving the plant its fun name). Similar to lamb's ear, it is a hardy perennial—one that provides Northern gardeners with an instant Southwestern look.

Stonecrop

Another succulent, Autumn Joy stonecrop derives its name from its late blooming period. Its pink bushy blooms arrive in September, long after everything else has gone to seed, making it the perfect addition to a four-season interest garden.

Yarrow

Greek mythology buffs may remember yarrow in a tale about the birth of Achilles—when his mother dipped his body in yarrow tea. Apparently, the only body part not soaked by the tea was Achilles' heel, resulting in an injury that killed him (hence the term "Achilles heel"). Yarrow's beautiful flat-top flowers come in many subtle colors and grow in clusters. Make sure to give this plant some room to spread and pull it up seasonally if it starts to take over.

Shasta Daisies

Similar to yarrow, Shasta daisies can overcome an outdoor garden bed in a few seasons. However, this traditional daisy—with ray-like petals radiating from a bright golden disk—is one that should be included in every bed. Shasta daisies are beyond hardy, thrive in dry, sunny areas, and can even weather a cold snap, too. This is one tough flower.

Coreopsis

Sure, annuals provide bountiful blooms all season long. That's why many gardeners re-up their beds year after year. But for a wallet-friendly alternative, coreopsis offers the same season-long blooms and comes back every year. If you're on a budget and favor perennials with long blooms, this flower (in shades of yellow and pink) is the perfect garden addition.

Lavender

The lavender plant serves more than one purposes in your garden. It's wispy green leaves and purple blooms look beautiful, while its soothing fragrance keeps pests away. Work lavender into your landscape design in areas that have dry, well-drained soil. And when the season's done, cut this aromatic herb and enjoy its smell inside.

Catnip

Those who share a yard with a cat are well aware of catnip's spell (not to be confused with ornamental catmint, however). This edible perennial contains a volatile oil that turns your cat into a blissful creature. Find him nibbling on and frolicking in the plant. Then, cut and dry it to make a calming tea for yourself, similar to chamomile.