Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

What Are the Best Plants for Total Sun?

By Desirae Roy ; Updated September 21, 2017

When assessing your garden for possible landscaping sites and bedding areas, don't dismiss full sun areas that you may have previously overlooked. Some plants thrive in bright, direct sunshine and unrelenting heat. In fact, there are annuals, perennials and vines specifically suited to this kind of harsh environment.

Prepare the beds or containers as you would for other plants, by thoroughly incorporating organic matter, such as well composted manure, and a slow release fertilizer per manufacturer directions, prior to planting.


Two of the most popular full sun annual bedding plants are petunias and zinnias. The petunia comes in a rainbow of colors, with trumpet shaped, delicate blooms on stems that reach, spread, and fill out containers or beds with ease all season. Zinnias are round, lion's-head-shaped blooms in bright jewel colors that provide height and structure for beds while maintaining a fresh look even during the hottest months. Other full-sun superstars include the spiky blue salvia, delicate verbena and silvery dusty miller.


Perennial plants that tolerate full sun are the staple of any bedding garden. Sunflowers, members of the Helianthus species, and daylily hybrids are perfect choices for full sun locations. The sunflower will grow narrow and tall, providing height and carefree beauty in your late summer garden.

Daylilies, which bunch into low mounding groups of blooms ringed in lance-shaped, draping leaves, will bloom and re-bloom throughout the season with very little maintenance. The black-eyed Susan and blanket flower, two happy sunflower-like bloomers, enjoy bright sunshine and tolerate heat equally well. For interesting foliage, choose hens and chicks, with rose-like florets that multiply in rock gardens as well as beds, or the lamb's ear species, with velvety-soft, silvery leaves for your full sun area.


Often, areas near fencing, buildings, or outbuildings are full sun locations without much protection from the scorching summer sun. Vines are the perfect solution for vertical gardening in sunny spots where other plants have no hope of surviving. The trumpet vine, sporting warm-hued, showy flowers that embody their name, grow to heights of 30 feet and are hardy in climate zones 5 and above.

For spectacular fall foliage in bright red with dark berries, choose the Virginia Creeper. Reaching up to 100 feet tall and hardy down to climate zone 4, this vine climber feeds birds as well as thrives in your garden hot spot.


About the Author


Desirae Roy began writing in 2009. After earning certification as an interpreter for the deaf, Roy earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Eastern Washington University. Part of her general studies included a botany course leading to a passion for the natural world.