In a sunny garden, you have so many choices for color. By planting annuals in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and landscape beds, you can enjoy vivid blooms all season long, from spring to fall. So, what are the best annuals for a full sun yard? Glad you asked—in our book, not only are they eye-catching and get at least six hours of sunshine a day, they’re relatively easy to care for, too. With that in mind, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 20 picks, noting things like which ones attract pollinators, and which might require a little more TLC.
The 20 Best Annual Flowers for Full Sun, from Marigolds to Snapdragons
A Few Quick Notes About Annuals
Most annuals are inexpensive and are available in six-packs, 4 or 6-inch containers, or in hanging baskets. You also can grow many annuals, such as sunflowers and nasturtiums, from seed by directly sowing them into the ground in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.
Annuals versus Perennials: What’s the Difference?
Annuals are plants that bloom for one year, then die back at the end of the growing season. Perennials are plants that will return for many years without needing to be replanted. Their bloom time often lasts just weeks, while annuals bloom from the time you plant them until a killing frost. Your garden benefits from both types of plants, but annuals are tops for immediate impact, long-lasting color and vibrant blooms.
The Best Annuals for Full Sun
- Why We Love Them: blooms all summer with minimal care
These are some of the absolute easiest flowers you can grow, and you’ll find them in an array of heights, from six inches to a foot tall, in colors ranging from sunny yellow to bright orange. They also attract pollinators and are heat and drought-tolerant once established. Pinch off the spent blooms to encourage the plants to make more flowers.
2. Sweet Alyssum
- Why We Love Them: sweetly scented; pollinator favorite
These low-growing flowers come in shades of white, pink and purple. They’ll bloom from planting until a hard freeze, and they look amazing draping over the edges of planters, window boxes or rock walls.
- Why We Love Them: tons of flower power all season long
This old-school favorite flowers all summer, and if you go with new reblooming varieties, such as Wave or Supertunia, you won’t need to deadhead, or pinch off spent blooms, to keep the plants blooming until frost. They’re available in every color of the rainbow and work equally well in mixed planters, window boxes, hanging pots or garden beds.
- Why We Love Them: stunning colors and long bloom time
These vining flowers resemble petunias, but they’re actually a different plant with slightly smaller flowers. They are beautiful draping over the edges of hanging pots or planters, and hummingbirds love them. Bonus: You don’t have to deadhead them to keep the blooms coming.
5. Sweet Potato Vine
- Why We Love Them: adds color and texture to mixed planters
While not technically a “flower,” this colorful vine is an outstanding addition to mixed planters to add contrast and a graceful form that drapes over the edges of pots. It’s available in shades of lime green, burgundy or variegated foliage.
- Why We Love Them: teeny flowers that resemble snapdragons
The delicate blooms of this adorable flower keep coming all summer long. It’s available in an array of gorgeous colors from pure white to pink and purple. Its slightly upright form make it a great addition to mixed planters. Some varieties are sweetly scented.
- Why We Love Them: season-long color that doesn’t mind heat and humidity
Striking spikes of red, purple, pink or white bi-color flowers make this reliable bloomer beautiful in any garden, especially when planted in masses for maximum effect. They are sturdy plants that keep blooming in the heat of summer, as long as you keep them watered and fertilized occasionally.
- Why We Love Them: ethereal blooms for an informal garden
If you love the cottage garden look, the tall, wispy blooms of ammi are a must-have. This heirloom plant is easy to grow from seed, and it makes a charming addition to the back of borders.
9. Fan Flower
- Why We Love Them: pretty filler for mixed planters or when used as a groundcover in beds
Fan flower, also called scaevola, is an extremely sturdy, low-growing plant that keeps blooming even in the heat of summer. Their pretty fan-shaped flowers come in shades of white, pink and purple.
- Why We Love Them: easy to grow from seed
Sunny-faced sunflowers are a fun addition to any garden. They’re easy and inexpensive to grow from seed, and you can succession plant them so you have blooms from mid to late summer. They come in heights of two to 10 feet tall in every color from lemon yellow to burgundy. They’re a great source of late-season nectar for pollinators, too.
- Why We Love Them: colorful, eye-catching blooms for hot, dry locations
Lantana comes in an array of saturated colors that pop in the summer heat. They’ve excellent for hot, dry locations and adapt well to many soil types. They’re annuals in most of the country, though in hot climates, they’re considered perennial.
- Why We Love Them: almost zero care with season-long blooms
The crazy textures of this plant make it a fun addition for mixed planters or borders. Its foliage may be either dark green or burgundy, which further enhances its appeal. It’s also heat and drought tolerant.
- Why We Love Them: starry blooms that pollinators love
The star-shaped clustered flowers of this hardy plant offer plenty of color to the summer garden. It’s heat and drought tolerant, once established. But that’s not all: hummingbirds and butterflies love it, too.
- Why We Love Them: variety of colors, textures and sizes with long bloom season
Zinnias keep blooming all summer, despite the heat. They come in an array of beautiful colors and sizes, so there’s one for every garden setting. They’re a pollinator magnet.
- Why We Love Them: delicate-looking blooms on long, graceful stems
These cottage-garden favorites are surprisingly resilient in the heat. And they come in so many beautiful colors, from white to pale pink to bright orange. They also make great cut flowers.
- Why We Love Them: edible flowers and leaves on charming climbing plants
Nasturtiums are super-easy to grow from seed, and they’ll bloom all the way until a hard frost. They come in a variety of colors, and their edible leaves and blossoms add a spicy kick to salads or cocktails. There are types that clamber along the ground, or you can train them up a trellis.
17. Love in a Mist
- Why We Love Them: romantic blooms with a charming name
With a name this delightful, you simply have to grow these flowers. Love in a mist grows easily from seed, and their pink, blue and white flowers make a beautiful addition to borders. The flowers also dry well for lasting bouquets.
- Why We Love Them: fluffy, ruffled blooms make great cut flowers
These upright spikes of flowers are amazing in containers or beds, but we love to cut them for bouquets. Plant an abundance so you can enjoy them in your garden and in vases indoors.
- Why We Love Them: vivid colors on a sturdy, heat-tolerant plant
Strawflower doesn’t mind heat, drought or poor soils. Deadheading the blooms keeps them coming, and these flowers make excellent, long-lasting dried flowers.
- Why We Love Them: nonstop blooms
Begonias come in an array of types, heights and colors including pink, white and red, but their real draw is the fact that they bloom and bloom (and bloom!) all summer long with no deadheading required. Some prefer shade, so be sure to read the tag or description so you get one for full sun conditions.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. She writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other national publications. She also trials new plant cultivars and field tests garden products to evaluate practicality and durability.