12 Best Perennials for Full Sun

Black-eyed susan perennial plant in full sun

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

While some plants wither in direct sunlight, many flowering perennial plants thrive when they receive a full day of sun. A planting location is considered to be in full sun if it receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight on most days.

Some full sun perennials might need a little sun protection during the hottest part of the day. And, moisture requirements for full sun perennials vary; some tolerate dry conditions while other require moist soil. For some, keeping their soil adequately moist is just as important as meeting their sunlight requirements. 

Here are 12 perennials that thrive in full sun conditions.


Research your plants carefully to know their bloom cycle. Knowing exactly when your perennial plants will bloom enables you to plan your garden design accordingly so that something is always flowering from spring to fall.

  • 01 of 12

    Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

    Yellow alyssum flowers as ground cover in full sun

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Also known by the common name Basket-of-gold, low-growing yellow alyssum is a mat-forming flowering ground cover. Grow it in areas where you would prefer it to spread and cover unsightly bare patches. Not to be confused with sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), yellow alyssum bears bright yellow flowers in the spring. Cut back the plant by up to half after it flowers to maintain its shape. Also, avoid poorly drained soil and excessive watering, as this can kill the plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average to sandy, dry, well-draining
  • 02 of 12

    Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

    Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

    Anna Yu/Getty Images

    A rock garden favorite, snow-in-summer gets its picturesque name from its appearance in bloom: white flowers against a background of silver foliage. This low-growing perennial loves to spread over sunny areas. And it pairs nicely with colorful blooms, such as roses (Rosa spp.) and coneflowers (Echinacea). Remove faded blooms in the late spring otherwise it will self-seed. While you are removing faded blooms, it’s also ideal to remove any dead or diseased foliage and tidy up the plant shape.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Sandy, dry, well-draining
  • 03 of 12

    Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina)

    lamb's ear (Stachys Byzantina)

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    Another full-sun perennial with silvery foliage is lamb's ear. This low-maintenance plant not only thrives in dry soil conditions, but it's also deer-resistant. Its velvety leaves are soft enough to snuggle with, and in the late spring its tiny purplish-pink blooms add one more element to your garden. Although blooms are insignificant and barely noticeable to humans, bees are highly attracted to them.

    This plant tends to rot and develop diseases in humid conditions, so protect it by locating it in well-drained soil. Watering usually isn’t necessary except in prolonged periods with little rainfall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purplish-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 04 of 12

    Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

    Green and pink mass of hens and chicks plants
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    Hens and chicks is a succulent that consists of parent rosettes (the hens) and tiny offspring (the chicks). It might look dainty, but this is a hardy perennial that can tolerate drought and rocky or sandy soil. Just make sure it has good drainage, and don't overwater. Once a rosette blooms, it will die. Remove these rosettes from the plant to allow the offspring plants to fill in the gap.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    'Autumn Joy' Stonecrop (Hylotelephium 'Herbstsfreude')

    Autumn Joy Sedum Stonecrop

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    'Autumn Joy' stonecrop derives its name from its late blooming cycle. Its pale pink, flattened-head of tiny clustered blooms arrive in September through October, long after most other perennials are past their prime. 'Autumn Joy' makes a perfect addition to a four-season-interest garden and serves as a late source of food for pollinators. Bees are attracted to all varieties of stonecrop.

    Avoid soil that is too rich and ensure that soil is well drained. To promote sturdy plants, prevent flopping, and delay flowering until fall, cut back foliage by half in late spring and again by half in mid summer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink to red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 06 of 12

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

    white yarrow

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    The Yarrow species produces beautiful flat-topped, white flowers and cultivars provide flower colors in pinks, reds, creams, yellows and bicolor pastels. Yarrow is particularly attractive to butterflies. Make sure to give this plant some room to spread because it reaches two to three feet tall and wide. Be prepared to pull it out when it exceeds its bounds. In the right conditions, yarrow can be an aggressive spreader. Cutting back the plant during the growing season after its first flowering might encourage additional blooming and keep its shape in check.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White (species) with cultivars available in many colors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 07 of 12

    Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky')

    Shasta daisies

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    The Shasta daisy with its ray-like petals radiating from a bright yellow disk, certainly makes a statement in the garden. Shasta daisies thrive in dry, sunny areas, and they can tolerate a cold snap. But wet soil, especially in the winter, can kill them, so good soil drainage is a must. Remove faded flowers to encourage re-blooming.  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White with yellow center
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 08 of 12

    Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

    Black-eyed susan flowers in full sun closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Black-eyed Susan is a perennial that readily self-sows and in no time, one plant can generate hundreds of seedlings. Even if your garden has plenty of space, crowded plants reduces air circulation, and a lack of airflow can foster powdery mildew and other diseases. To reduce the chance of disease, remove extra plants or divide them to provide sufficient airflow. Although birds feast on Black-eyed Susan seed heads in the fall, deadheading faded blooms prevents self-sowing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow to orange with brown center
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam')

    Yellow tickseed flowers

    Birgitta Astrand/Getty Images

    Threadleaf coreopsis, also known as tickseed, has a long blooming period from June to August. This plant grows to two feet in tall and wide, and it can spread somewhat aggressively via underground rhizomes and self-seeding. Removing faded blooms prevents self-seeding. Pruning the plant in late summer not only will clean up its growth, but it also can encourage a fall rebloom.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Sandy or rocky, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 10 of 12

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    lavender in a field

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    English lavender serves more than one purpose. In the garden, its wispy greenish-gray foliage and purple blooms look beautiful, and its soothing fragrance helps keep pests away. And, you can harvest this aromatic herb to enjoy its wonderful aroma indoors. Its dried blooms are perfect for making sachets to add scent to a drawer or closet or even to place under your pillow. Prune lavender in spring to shape the plant after new leaves appear. Remove faded flower stalks to prolong flowering, which occurs from June to August.  This plant thrives in dry conditions; overly wet conditions can kill it.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: well-drained, less fertile, dry conditions (sand and gravel)
  • 11 of 12

    Catnip (Nepeta cataria)


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    Catnip is an edible perennial containing an essential oil that many cats tend to love. This plant is tolerant of drought. And it can even handle a little shade, especially during hot afternoons. But wet soil can kill it, so water only when the soil dries out. Remove flower spikes after they’ve faded to encourage further blooming, and divide established plants when they become crowded.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White and pale purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 12 of 12

    Salvia (Salvia spp.)

    Victoria blue salvia plants in bloom

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    Salvia is one of the most popular perennials for full sun. People new to gardening might only know of the red annual, Salvia splendens. But the perennial types of salvia are largely in the blue-violet color range, though there are a few pink cultivars from which to choose. Some of the hardier blue-violet cultivars include 'May Night', 'Caradonna', and 'Blue Hill'. Remove faded flower spikes to encourage further blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue-violet, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil : Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining