A variety of plants grow in Minnesota gardens, including plants that thrive in full sun. The state's cooler climate combined with a short growing season makes June through September the best time to experiment with sun-loving plants. Consider planting perennials that come up on their own each year, or try annuals that fade away in the fall, giving you space to try a new type of plant the following spring.
Monkshood (Acontium napellus)
Tall spiked clusters of bell-shaped bluish-purple flowers make monkshood a show stopping choice for Minnesota gardens that love sun. Growing up to 36 inches in height, the hardy perennial blooms in late summer in hardiness zones 3 to 6. The plant and its juices remain highly toxic, so avoid planting where children or pets come into contact with the plants. The plant makes great cut flowers as long you wash your hands after working with them.
Giant Allium (Allium giganteum)
Also known as the flowering onion, giant allium grows up to 59 inches in height, featuring a large, purple round flower that grows up to 15 inches in diameter. The massive blooms appear in early to mid-summer. Giant allium looks great in borders or alongside ornamental grasses. The blooms also work well as cut flowers. Plant the bulbs in the fall where they'll get full sun in the spring. The plants work well to attract bees.
Dwarf Aster (Aster alpinus)
In mid to late summer, the dwarf aster produces a profusion of daisy-like flowers in shades of blue, pink and white. The perennial plant grows in a mound up to 12 inches in height with a spread of 12 inches. Dwarf aster thrives in hardiness zones 4 to 8. Requiring full sun, the plant works well in borders and rock gardens where the compact blooms really grab attention.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
A great plant for borders and wetlands, cardinal flowers thrive in full to partially sunny areas in hardiness zones 4 to 8. The perennial, native plants grow up to 36 inches in height with a 24-inch spread. In mid-summer, red, showy 8-inch flowers appear on long spikes. The long tubular flowers provide hummingbirds with a great source of nectar and, in turn, aid in pollination of the plant.
Tall Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
For summer-long color, tall snapdragon makes a great choice for sunny gardens. The annual plants grow up to 18 inches tall, featuring a variety of blooms that start in early summer in hardiness zones 5 to 8. Deadhead the plants, and the flowers keep blooming into late summer, especially if the weather stays on the cool side. The plants work well as transplants from containers or as seeds. Sow seeds after the last frost in the spring in well-drained soil.