10 Sun-Loving Perennials - Summer Flowers - You Can Enjoy Full Sun Perennials in Your Backyard Garden

Part of the You Can Learn Landscaping and Gardening series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, YouCanLearnSeries.com
January 19, 2007

Are you looking for some summer color in an area of your yard that gets Full Sun? Many gardeners have a south facing section of their garden that receives a strong dosage of full sun. We all want to have flowers in this spot, but we don't want them to die. What can we do? What sun loving perennials will handle the hot full sun and the extra dry conditions in this environment?

Here is a list of 10 perennials that I have in my yard that receive full sun all day long during those hot dry days of summer in Illinois. Each of these go well with the others. They require little water each week and will bloom from late spring to late fall.

For the back of your full sun garden place Broadleaf Purple ConeFlowers. The purple coneflowers will grow to 3 to 4 foot tall and you can place different varieties, white coneflowers or even Black Eyed Susans, which is another variety of the coneflower. Adding multiple colors of the coneflower will add visual interest. And the birds love to eat the seeds after it is done blooming. It is very interesting to see birds land on the big seed heads and begin to get their fill of the seeds.

Click on Broadleaf Purple Coneflower photo to see larger photo.
The Purple Coneflower should be planted in back of garden for height.
Water the purple coneflower when it begins to wilt.


Also in the back place Russian Sage Even though each stem is thin, the plant is beautiful in full bloom and requires the same simple care the coneflowers require. Just a little water each week and these plants are happy.

Full Sun Perennials Offer Southern Exposure Beauty

Many people like the Day Lily which we all know seems to grow anywhere. It definitely will grow in our hot dry section of the sun loving perennial garden. The Day Lily comes in multiple colors, varying heights and different flower sizes. My wife feels the day Lily is over done in most gardens, but truthfully it adds interest and color to your back yard garden.

Now, not many people will recommend the Threadleaf Coreopsis, but I have come to really appreciate the intricate, thin as sphaghetti stems and tiny flowers. When it is in full bloom and you have 5 to 10 plants, it is like having a carpet of color. These are rather small in height and you probably want to place the Threadleaf Coreopsis near the border of your garden.

The Salvia has a beauty and charm all its own. I am amazed how long a blooming season it gives me each summer. It starts in late spring and will bloom to seed. But a few minutes cutting the seed tops and then in a couple of weeks it starts to bloom all over again. The Salvia is a real work horse and is a favorite of butterflies.

Another classic hot, dry, sun loving perennial is the Catmint. It will be nice to you even if you forget to water it and requires minimal care each summer. The blue (lavendar) flowers show a nice soft color in your summer garden. Place it near the border or walkway as that way you can enjoy the wonderful fragrance of the Catmint.

Click on plant to see larger photo.
The catmint plant lavendar flowers
The catmint plant lavendar flowers.

The seventh perennial classic in our full sun perennial garden is the Autumn Joy Sedum. This plant is also known as the Stonecrop because it seems to have the ability to grow right out of stone. The flowers look like little stalks of pinkish, red broccoli florets. I have mine next to the road and it has the capability to withstand, sun, dry, hot, windy, cold, snow and salt from the city's salt trucks. The Autumn Joy Sedum is perfect for our full sun garden.

Click on plant to see larger photo.
Autumn Joy Sedum an excellent border plant
Autumn Joy Sedum an excellent border plant

How about an onion in your backyard? The Allium is perfect in full sun and well drained areas. This will flower in late spring with big balls of tiny petals that look like a cheerleader's pom poms. Plus, the little ground squirrels don't like the onion taste of the Allium so your bulbs will survive to the next year.

For the middle of your garden feel free to choose the Shasta Daisy. The Bright Yellow centers of the flowers are contrasted nicely with the white petals. This may need a little more water than the others on the list, but still withstands the hot dry full sun conditions.

Number ten on our list of ten full sun perennials is the Yarrow. This plant will work nicely with the Cone Flowers, Black Eyed Susans and the Russian Sage. The Yarrow enjoys the dry conditions of our sun loving garden and will thrive in multiple colors if you choose.

It is so much fun watching perennials come up each spring as they provide beauty to your front yard or back yard. Winter time can be so bleak and hostile outside. Then a few warm days and these perennials pop their tiny leaves through the soil. A little water and tender loving care and they show little flowers. A few more days and back garden beauty is bursting colors of red, blue, yellow, white, pink, purple, lavendar and rose.

How do you know if your garden area requires full sun perennials? If during the middle of the summer that section has sun for 6 to 8 hours or more you will probably be okay putting in a perennial that is marked as requiring full sun.

How Do I Know if the Plant is Considered a Full Sun Perennial?

When you go to your local landscape or garden shop and begin to look at the plants and flowers there are two things to look for on the tags. One, see if the plant is a perennial. Does it state on the tag that the plant will last more than one year or even uses the word, perennial, on the tag? Second, the grower will put a big bright sun picture on the tag. The sun will be partially covered if it should only get partial sun and the sun will appear in full eclipse mode if it should be a shade plant. Each grower has a little different image, but they all represent the same idea as the tag nearly yells at you, "I am a Full Sun Perennial."

Look at the picture to see which color the flower will be. This is also on the tag. Will that color go with your color scheme? Are you trying for a blue garden, a red garden, a mixture of colors or a specific color theme, such as patriotic? Use your imagination and landscape to find the theme that explodes with outdoor beauty.

Another thing to be aware of when looking at perennials is the height of the full grown plant. You don't want to plant a group of Coneflowers in front, because they might hide some of the smaller plants like Salvias and Coreopsis. Plant your Coneflowers, Russian Sage, and Yarrow toward the back. Then plant the Salvias, Coreopsis, Catmint and Sedum around the border. You will appreciate the mix of color visible when you watch their heights as you prepare the garden.

Remember these plants all enjoy full sun. They are looking for well drained soils and require minimal care all summer long. A little pruning and weeding between the perennials will go a long way to providing a wonderful summer garden. I hope you enjoy the plants from this list all summer long.

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