Full sun gardens require plants which are sun loving as they’ll be able to tolerate the hottest summer days as well as the dry conditions of this environment. Once established most perennials need little care, other than deadheading. Plant a variety of perennials with varying bloom times. This will provide your garden color from spring to fall.
Garden which are considered full sun receive 6 to 8 hours each day. Like with any garden, a full sun garden should be designed to provide season interest. Early, mid and late season perennials should all be incorporated into the design. Most bulbs, the earliest of all garden flowers, can tolerate full sun conditions. Through spring and summer a wide range of flowers can provide waves of colorful blooms. Late blooming, such as aster and sedum ’autumn joy’ can add color to the garden until frost. Annuals, most of which prefer full sun, bloom all season long.
Know the mature height of the plants you are using in your garden. Vigorous growers should be given ample space to grow, otherwise they’ll need to be moved or require frequent dividing. Tall plants should be placed in the back of the garden and can serve as a backdrop to the lower growing perennials in the front. Plan your garden on paper first, before planting and determine a color scheme.
General garden maintenance, including deadheading and weeding will encourage your perennials and annuals to flourish all from spring right through fall. The following is a list of 10 easy to grow perennials which thrive in full sun conditions.
For the back of your full sun garden place Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea). The purple coneflowers grows to 3 to 4’ tall has large daisy-like flowers. The purple variety is the most common but they’re available in white and pink as well. Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), another variety of the coneflower, work exceptionally well with Echinacea and will add visual interest to the garden. Birds are attracted to its seeds once it’s done blooming. This is a great choice for the full sun perennial garden, the cutting garden or for naturalizing the landscape.
Daylily (Hemerocallis sp.) is a wide ranging perennials with endless colors and sizes available. Extremely easy to, day lily is tolerant of almost any soil and can tolerate dry conditions. Daylilies bloom all summer on long narrow stalks. Use for stand alone plantings, edging, in borders or in containers.
A low growing, full sun perennial is Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis sp.). Perfect for the front of a perennial border or for edging a path, coreopsis blooms in mid-summer. A low growing perennial, coreopsis grows to about 12-18” and has fern-like, airy foliage. Its yellow flowers are tiny, but since the plant produces so many its actually quite showy. Coreopsis is tolerant of poor soils (as long as they are well drained) and is very easy to grow.
Pink Friesland Meadow Sage (Salvia nemorosa ‘pink friesland‘) is a great repeat blooming perennial. It flowers in late spring and with deadheading will start to bloom all over again. It has dark red stems loaded with pink flowers that bloom from June to September. It has a plant height of 18” and a spread of 12-15” and stays in excellent compact form. Pink Friesland should be planted in full sun in a moist well-drained area. Pink Friesland is a magnet for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds and is deer-resistant. It is hardy for container gardening and provides excellent cut flowers.
The fragrant perennial Catmint (Nepata sp.) is one of the most maintenance free perennials available for the garden. I planted it for a customer one fall in an area with very sandy soil and full exposure to the ocean. The following summer with almost no water they flourished and almost doubled in size. Cutting back in the fall and dividing every few years is about all this plant needs. Its blue, fragrant flowers make it an ideal plant for the planting near a patio.
For fall color, as well as lush summer foliage, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum 'Herbstfreude'), is probably one of the best. Also known as stonecrop, this plant is exceedingly easy to grow. Its flowers range from pink to red and actually resemble broccoli florets. Sedum ‘autumn joy’ grows in clumps which increase in size each season. Dividing this plant every few years will help control its size and increase your plant inventory.
Shasta Daisy (leucanthemum superbum) is a vigorous growing perennial. Its abundant white flowers (with bright yellow centers) bloom on tall stalks which grow up from lush green foliage. Shasta daisy will grow to the height of 3’ and a spread 18-24”. Staking is usually necessary to prevent the flowers from tipping over as they can become top heavy. This is particularly true after summer showers. Shasta daisy requires a little more water than other full sun perennials but it can still thrive in the full sun. Deadheading will encourage a longer bloom time. It's suitable for both the formal and informal garden, as well as the cutting garden. Shasta daisy is perfect for those looking for a low maintenance perennial.
Peony (Paeonia sp.) is a standout in the full sun garden. One of the best flowers for the cutting garden, the peony’s very large spring and summer flowers bloom in a wide variety of colors, including pink, red and white. Peonies are tolerant dry to moist sites and many require staking as they’re larger flowers become heavy enough to bend their stalks.
Yarrow (yarrow sp.) is another tall perennial which blooms on long stalks which emerge from a mound of lush foliage. Yarrow is available in a wide variety of colors. Tolerant of dry gardens, yarrow is well suited to the full sun garden and is able to tolerate hot humid summers. Remove faded flowers to encourage more growth and divide every 3-4 years. For an attraction to butterflies, deer and rabbit resistant, one can’t go wrong with this plant.
Liatris (Liatris spicata), is a tall perennial with spike-shaped flowers which grow up from dark green foliage. The flowers open from the top down and bloom from June to September. Liatris should be planted in full sun in a well-drained area. Are wonderful perennials for the back of flower garden, liatris is a treasured cut flower. Liatris will also help attract butterflies to the garden.