12 Best Perennials for Full Sun

Sempervivum tectorum; Mountain plant; crassulaceae
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While some plants wither in direct sunlight, many sun-loving perennials thrive in these conditions. A planting location is considered to have full sun if it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. And the category of plants that prefer full sun is vast. However, some of these plants still need a little sun protection during the hottest part of the day. Plus, not all plants that thrive in full sun also tolerate dry conditions. For some, keeping their soil adequately moist is just as important as meeting their light requirements. Here are 12 perennials that thrive in full sun.

Tip

Research your plants carefully to find out their flowering period so you can stagger when your plants bloom and have great color in your garden throughout the growing season.

  • 01 of 12

    Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

    Yellow Alyssum flowers

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    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 Needs: Average to sandy, dry, well-draining
  • 02 of 12

    Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

    Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

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    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 spent blooms in the late spring unless you want the plant to self-seed. At this time, it’s also ideal to remove any dead or diseased foliage and tidy up the shape of the plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: 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 lavender blooms add one more element to your garden. This plant tends to rot and develop diseases in humid conditions, so protect it by ensuring that it has well-draining soil. Watering usually isn’t necessary unless you have long stretches without any rainfall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: 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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    The hens and chicks plant is a succulent that consists of parent rosettes (the hens) and tiny offspring (the chicks). It may 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 space.

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

    Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Hylotelephium 'Herbstsfreude')

    Stonecrop plants with pink blooms

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    Another succulent, Autumn Joy stonecrop derives its name from its late blooming period. Its pink, bushy blooms arrive in September or October, long after most other plants have gone to seed. This makes it the perfect addition to a four-season-interest garden. Avoid soil that is too rich, as this can make the plant floppy, and ensure that it has good drainage. Light pruning in the late spring can help to shape the plant and make it grow fuller.

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

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

    Yarrow in bloom

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    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, as it reaches around 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. And be prepared to pull it up when it exceeds its bounds. In the right conditions, it can be an aggressive spreader. Cutting back the plant during the growing season after its first flowering can help to encourage additional blooming and keep its shape in check.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: 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 even tolerate a cold snap. But wet soil, especially in the winter, can kill a plant, so good drainage is a must. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional blooming throughout the growing season. And cut back the plant after it’s done flowering to promote healthy growth for the next season. 

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

    Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

    black-eyed Susans blooming

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    Black-eyed Susan is another plant that will spread and form a great mass, with each plant reaching around 2 feet tall and wide. Even if you have sufficient space, this spreading can be a problem because it reduces air circulation. A lack of airflow can foster powdery mildew and other diseases, so divide your plants as needed to stop this from happening. Moreover, remove spent blooms to encourage further flowering and prevent the plant from unwanted self-seeding.

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

    Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam')

    Yellow tickseed flowers

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    Threadleaf coreopsis, also known as tickseed, has a long blooming period from June to August. This plant grows to around 2 feet in height and spread, and it can spread somewhat aggressively via underground rhizomes and self-seeding. Removing spent blooms is helpful to prevent unwanted spreading, and it can promote more flowering. Plus, pruning the plant in the 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 Needs: Sandy or rocky, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 10 of 12

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    lavender in a field

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    The lavender plant serves more than one purpose in the garden. Its wispy green leaves and purple blooms look beautiful, and its soothing fragrance helps to keep pests away. Plus, you can cut this aromatic herb to enjoy its smell inside. Shape the plant with pruning in the spring after new leaves appear. and remove spent blooms to prolong flowering, which occurs from around June to August. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 11 of 12

    Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

    Catnip

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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 the plant, so water only when the soil dries out. Prune off the flower spikes after they’ve faded to encourage further blooming, and divide established plants when they become crowded in your planting area.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White and pale purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: 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 types include 'May Night', 'Caradonna', and 'Blue Hill'. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage further blooming, and cut back plants after flowering has finished for the season.

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