Full Sun Perennials: 15 Beautiful Low Maintenance Plants That Thrive In The Sun

Looking for low maintenance plants with beautiful flowers that will grow well in full sun (even in the South!)? These full sun perennials are perfect!

15 sun-loving perennial plants

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about perennials that grow well in the shade and part shade.

However, if you live further south like I do (in South Carolina), it seems like almost anything will grow in part shade.

The troublesome areas are actually in full sun.  

It is just so hot in the summer that many plants don’t do well, even if they are normally deemed to be full sun perennials.

When I started gardening in Canada, it never even crossed my mind that full sun gardening was an issue…until I moved somewhere that it was.

I have had to learn what will (and won’t grow) in the sun in the south.

So I thought I would share the perennials I have found that are low maintenance, can take full sun and still look good in the middle of the summer. 

1 | Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

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Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Late spring to early fall
Height: 1′ to 3′ (depending on the variety)
Spread: 1′ to 2′

Black-eyed Susan is a native perennial that prefers evenly-moist, well-drained soil, but is quite drought- and heat-tolerant once they are established.

With their long bloom time and bright-colored flowers, they are a beautiful addition to the back of your garden bed.

Deadheading old flowers will encourage re-blooming.

Buy it HERE.*

2 | Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian sage
Russian sage

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Early summer to fall
Height: 2′ to 4′
Spread: 2′ to 4′

With its gray-green foliage and beautiful purple flowers, Russian Sage is one of my favorite full sun perennials.

It’s deer resistant, drought tolerant, and it attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

It also requires absolutely no maintenance. It doesn’t need fertilizing, deadheading or dividing. You can cut it shorter in the spring to control its size if you want to, but otherwise that’s not necessary, either.

Buy it HERE.*

3 | Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Close up of Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
Close up of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Zones: 3 to 8
Bloom Time: Late summer to fall
Height: 18″ to 24″
Spread: 18″ to 24″

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a succulent that stores water in its leaves and prefers dry, poorly fertilized soil.

The flowers start out pink and turn to bronze as the weather gets cooler.

Since it is one of the last flowers to bloom before winter, it’s a great late-season nectar source for butterflies and bees.

Buy it HERE.*

4 | Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Phlox subulata 'Candy Stripe'
Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripe’

Zones: 3 – 9
Bloom time: Spring
Height: 6″
Spread: 2′ to 3′

First on my list of full sun perennials is Creeping Phlox or Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata).

It is a low-growing ground cover that is easy to grow and looks beautiful at the front of your sunny border. 

Phlox Subulata 'Emerald Blue'
Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’

Once it gets going, it will cover the area with pretty white, blue or pink flowers in the spring, and looks beautiful with daffodils or tulips growing through it.

Buy it HERE.*

5 | Daffodils (Narcissus)

White daffodils
White daffodils

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 18″ to 24″
Spread: 12″

Speaking of spring bulbs, daffodils are the next low maintenance plants on my list of full sun perennials.

Once you plant them, they don’t require any maintenance at all.

They come back for many years and bloom reliably (unlike many tulips). Most varieties will naturalize as well, so you’ll get more of them over time…but not in a bad way.

Pink daffodils
Pink daffodils

If you’re not a big fan of yellow, look for white or pink varieties (like the picture above). They’re really more coral than true pink but still a pretty color.

Buy them HERE*.

6 | Catmint (Nepeta ×faassenii)

Catmint with Phlox subulata and native azalea
Catmint with Phlox subulata and native azalea

Zones: 3 – 9
Bloom Time: Late spring to summer
Height: 9″ to 18″
Spread: 18″ to 36″

Catmint (Nepeta) is a compact plant (about 12″ high) with silvery leaves and purple-blue flowers.

It blooms in the mid to late spring and looks beautiful in combination with other flowers (such as the native azalea and Phlox subulata in this picture).

Catmint 'Walker's Low'
Nepeta faassenii ‘Walkers Low’*

The only word of caution? True to its name, cats do love to roll in it…so the plant may get squished if your neighborhood kitty stops by (it doesn’t seem to hurt the plant).

Buy it HERE.*

7 | Lavender

Lavender
Lavender

Zones: 5 – 8
Bloom Time: Early to mid summer
Height: 12″ to 24″
Spread: 12″ to 24″

Lavender forms dense clumps of blue-green foliage.  

It is drought tolerant and blooms in early to mid summer with lovely blue/purple, fragrant flower spikes.

Lavender 'Phenomenal'
Lavender phenomenal*

Lavender can take a year or two to get going. But once it has, it really doesn’t take any work at all.

Shear off the flowers when it is finished blooming to keep the plant tidy. But be careful about trimming it back in the spring…cutting into the woody stem can kill it.

Buy it HERE.*

8 | Daylily (Hemerocallis)

Day Lilies
Daylilies

Zones: 3 – 9
Bloom Time: Late spring and summer
Height: 1′ to 4′
Spread: 2′ to 4′

Daylilies (Hemerocallisreally are a “plant and forget” flower which is why they are one of my favorite full sun perennials.

They generally bloom in late spring and summer, but it can vary depending on the variety.

As the name suggests, each bloom only lasts a day. But as you can see, one plant can grow a lot of buds!  

Some of the newer varieties also re-bloom.

Buy it HERE.*

9 | Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum)

Shasta daisies
Shasta daisies

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 2′ to 3′
Spread:  1′ to 2′

If you want a flower to add some cheeriness to your full sun garden all summer long, Shasta daisies are the way to go.

Although they spread by rhizomes, they aren’t invasive (like some roadside daisies can be) and they don’t need a lot of care or fertilizer to keep them growing. In fact, soil that is too rich will cause more leaves and fewer flowers.

These flowers also attract butterflies and are deer and rabbit resistant.

Grow them from seed or buy live plants.

Buy it HERE.*

10 | Coneflower (Echinacea )

Echinacea 'Razzmatazz'
Echinacea ‘Razzmatazz’

Zones: 3 – 9
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 2′ to 4′
Spread: 2′ to 3′

Like the Shasta Daisies, Coneflower (Echinacea) is another easy to grow perennial that blooms all summer long.

There are so many different colors and flower forms that you are sure to find one (or more) that you like.

Echinacea pallida
Echinacea pallida

One note:  Echinacea do tend to self seed, so you may need to pull out a few plants if you find them growing where you don’t want them.

Buy it HERE.*

11 | Polyantha Roses

Polyantha Rose 'Gabrielle Privat'
Polyantha Rose ‘Gabrielle Privat’

Zones: 4 – 9
Bloom Time: Late spring to fall
Height: 4′ to 6′
Spread: 4′

I love most kinds of roses, however there is only one variety I have grown that I would put in the low maintenance category (and that’s the one that makes my full sun perennials list).

Polyantha roses are an heirloom variety that grows as a thick bush or climbing plant with many 1″ flowers on every stem.

Polantha rose
Polyantha rose

They are disease resistant and easy to maintain (for a rose). Just cut out dead branches to thin out the plant.  As a bonus, mine bloom all summer long!

Buy it HERE.

12 | Rose Mallow (Perennial Hibiscus)

Rose Mallow
Rose Mallow

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 3′ to 5′ (depending on the variety)
Spread: 3′ to 5′

Hardy Hibiscus is a native perennial with HUGE blooms that look tropical even though they’re not.

It grows woody stems that look almost like branches but dies down to the ground in the winter.

This is one of the last perennials to come up in the spring, so don’t be worried if it seems like it’s not coming back…it just needs a little more time.

Buy it HERE.*

13 | Rose Of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Hibiscus syriacus "Lil Kim"
Hibiscus syriacus “Lil Kim”

Zones: 5 – 9
Bloom Time: Late summer
Height: 6′ to 12′
Spread: 6′ to 8′

Speaking of Hibiscus…

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is another variety that is actually a bush rather than a perennial (but it has such pretty flowers that I had to include it).

It is also easy to care for.  Just provide some water if it is dry.

Other than that, it only requires pruning if you want to keep it small or change its shape.

Hibiscus "Sugar Tip"
Hibiscus “Sugar Tip”

Although there are many varieties of Rose of Sharon available (I have at least 5 of them in my garden!), the Hibiscus ‘Sugar Tip’ is my favorite.

It has variegated leaves and really pretty light pink flowers with maroon centers.

Buy it HERE*

14 | Salvia

Salvia
Salvia

Zones: 5 – 11 (depending on variety)
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 18″ to 36″
Spread: 18″ to 24″

Salvia is another plant that loves the sun…it seems like the more the better for this plant!

If you trim them back a little when the blooms start to fade, you can get them to rebloom all summer.

Salvia comes in different colors like this fuchsia pink.

Salvia 'Black and Blue'
Salvia ‘Black and Blue’

Or ‘Black and Blue’ which has deep blue flowers on black stems (and is really easy to grow from seed).

Make sure to read the tags when you are buying Salvias since they have a wide range of growing zones, and some may be considered annuals in your area.

Buy Salvia HERE*.

15 | Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia)

Pink Muhly Grass
Pink Muhly Grass

Zones: 5 – 9
Bloom Time: Late Summer to Fall
Height: 3′ to 4′
Spread: 3′ to 4′

Ornamental grasses in general do really well in full sun.

But my favorite species is this Pink Muhly grass.

Pink Muhly Grass ©Li - stock.adobe.com
©Li – stock.adobe.com

In late summer, it develops airy pink plumes that almost seem to glow in the sun.

It’s also not as big or as invasive as some of the other ornamental grasses, which makes it a great border plant.

Buy it HERE*.

That’s my list of easy to maintain full sun perennials that will thrive even in the south.  Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.

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Do you have other suggestions for low maintenance full sun perennials?  Tell us in the section below.

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29 Responses

    • Thanks, Sherri! I’ve had good luck with butterfly bush, too…but haven’t tried bearded irises. I’ll have to find a spot for them 🙂

  • Upright stonecrop sedum is a wonderful low maintenance plant. The bees love it and the deer leave it alone. My favorite variety is Autumn Fire. I leave the plants intact over the winter to provide winter interest. Clip the stalks at the base in the spring to make way for the new growth. That’s it!

    • Thanks, Sandy! That’s a great suggestion! I have one of those in my garden, too, and didn’t think to include it on the list 🙂

  • The wax begonias grew in full sun for me last year to record heights an fullness. Very strange considering it’s a partial shade plant. Have had difficulty growing in that area because of the full sun. So I’ll go for the for sure thing this year BEGONIAS who knew.

    • Thanks, Chas! I would not have thought to try begonias in full sun. I’ll have to plant a few this year and see how they do 🙂

    • Hi Lillian…I think Coneflower (Echinacea), Salvia and Daylilies should all do well in your dry heat…but I haven’t lived in that area of the country so I don’t have any personal experience with what grows well in Phoenix. I found this Plants List from an Arizona landscaper that has a lot more options you might want to try.

    • Hi Mary…That’s a tough one 🙂 I’m not sure what zone you are in, but here’s a few possibilities: If you’re in zones 9 or 10, Garvinea Gerbera daisies and Pentas are long-blooming and fairly low maintenance. Romeo Cleyera doesn’t bloom but it’s evergreen and has really pretty variegated leaves (Zones 7 – 10). Ornamental grasses are another option for many areas. Dwarf versions of blue spruce do pretty well in pots in cooler zones. As do Arctic Fire and Arctic Sun dogwoods…they are not evergreen but their stems are really brightly colored red or yellow so they look good even in the winter. Hopefully that helps!

  • Golden oregano is a great ground cover for a hot area. It goes green in winter but becomes a lovely warm yellow in summer.
    Californian poppies are one of my favourites too, here in Western Australia.

    I like that you mention seasons rather than months in your comments. We in the southern hemisphere have similar climate conditions but everything happens in different months.
    I wish more gardening enthusiasts in the northern hemisphere would follow your lead and remember that we also love to garden down here.
    Thanks for an interesting site.

    • Hi Marie…thanks for the plant suggestions! I’ll have to see if I can find some golden oregano…it could be useful in some parts of my yard!
      Having lived (and gardened) in both Canada and the southern U.S., I find months don’t apply very well even in the same continent. In my South Carolina garden, the daffodils come up in February…in Toronto, everything is still covered in snow at that time, so I try to use seasons. I’m happy to hear you find it helpful 🙂

  • I live in the Ozarks in a 2 bedroom apartment. I love flowers/gardening but have a small yard. I have roses (3 bushes) 2 peonies 1 hydrangea and 2 lilac bushes. I have 5 pots on plantstands and 4 hanging planters all in full sun. Will the flowers in this post grow as well in pots as they would in the ground? Also. I have 6 large round (about 36 inches diameter) pots I have tried (unsuccessfully) to start in 2 of the pots tiger lilies tulips and irises. Is there a special type of buld or soil I need to use? I am 70years old divorced and on a fixed income. I have questions too about why some of my other plants won’t bloom. But that may wait for another day. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Jeannie…Many of these flowers will do fine in pots. I have grown the Creeping Phlox, Catmint, Coneflower and Salvia in containers without any problems. I’m not sure how the roses and Rose of Sharon would do, but I think all of the others should be fine. For large pots like yours, I usually mix half potting soil and half garden soil. The potting soil helps to hold the moisture, and the garden soil helps to keep more of the nutrients in. The only other thing about pots is that I usually fertilize them more than I would plants in the ground, either with Miracle Gro fertilizer that you mix with water or Osmocote fertilizer pellets that you just sprinkle on the soil. (Neither is very expensive). Hope that helps!

  • Hi Jeannie, I’m in LA (lower Alabama)lol and one of my best ground covers is Lantana. I live out in the country so I have large flower beds that often become snacks and nests for wild animals. I don’t even know what kind of animals are nestled in at night but some are brave enough to be right at our front door. The Lantana doesn’t break easily and they don’t eat it. It covers a large area, and it comes back every year.

  • I have enjoyed Shasta Daisy in a full sun flower bed that is around a tree. Doesn’t seem to take much water other than what it gets from the sprinklers that water the grass. If I dead head it, it just keeps blooming.

  • Help!!! Just moved into a new home, completely empty burm out front of my house. It has black mulch on it already and faces the south. Will any of these listed work in the Lincoln Nebraska climate?

    • Hi Donna…it sounds like you have the perfect spot for sun-loving plants. Since Lincoln Nebraska is in gardening zone 5b, you should be able to grow all of the ones on this list 🙂

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