The 20 Best Full-Sun Perennials for Your Garden

Your sunny garden needs both annuals and perennials to attract pollinators and provide season-long color to your yard. While annuals bloom for one season from the time you plant them until frost, perennials bloom for a shorter period of weeks to months. But they return year after year, making them a smart investment in your garden for the long haul.

If your lawn gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, you’ll want to plant full-sun perennials—they need that much light in order to bloom. (In hot climates, some of them do better with some afternoon shade.) When choosing plants, read the plant tag or description to make sure they’ll survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zones (find yours here). Then dig a hole about two to three times the size of the container, remove the plant from the pot and set it in the hole at the same depth it was in the pot. Replace the soil, tamp down and water well. Keep them watered during the first few weeks and during dry spells for the first year as their roots get established, and know that it’s usually not until their third year in the ground that they really take off and start growing like crazy.

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Not sure which full-sun perennials to plant? We’re here to help. Here are, oh, 20 of our favorites (because declaring one the best full-sun perennial would be too tricky).

best full sun perennials perennial salvia
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1. Perennial Salvia

  • Why We Love It: Pollinator favorite, extra hardy

Spikes of purple, pink or white flowers atop mounded foliage make these summer bloomers a favorite. While bees and butterflies love it, deer usually ignore it.

best full sun perennials peony
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2. Peony

  • Why We Love It: Gorgeous, lush, fragrant flowers

This shrubby perennial can live for decades. The stunning flowers burst into bloom from mid-May to mid-June, depending on where you live. (Hint: Don’t worry about the ants they attract; they’re sipping nectar and don’t harm the plant, nor are they necessary for the buds to open.)

best full sun perennials lavender
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3. Lavender

  • Why We Love It: Classic romantic scent, hardy, can be used in baking

Lavender is a tough plant that doesn’t mind the heat. Blooming in mid to late summer, you’ll find many varieties with different types of flowers. Read the description to make sure it’s one that will survive in your hardiness zone.

best full sun perennials bearded iris
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4. Bearded Iris

  • Why We Love It: Stately, upright eye-catching blooms in late spring

With more than 7,000 registered varieties, you’ll find one that looks just right in your garden. Their heights vary, so read the label so you’ll know where to plant in your garden, whether at the back, center or front of borders.

best full sun perennials delosperma
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5. Delosperma

  • Why We Love It: Super-bright colors and drought tolerant

This succulent makes a striking groundcover with its neon-bright flowers in shades of red, orange or pink. They look great when planted on slopes and in rock gardens.

best full sun perennials coneflower
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6. Coneflower

  • Why We Love It: Tons of gorgeous colors, attracts pollinators

Coneflowers have long bloom times, and their bright colors pop in any landscape. They’re deer resistant, and the dried seedheads offer food for birds in the winter.

best full sun perennials penstemon
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7. Penstemon

  • Why We Love It: attracts pollinators, long-blooming flowers

Also called beardtongue, this plant boasts stately upright spikes of tubular flowers in shades of pink or red. The foliage often has a burgundy tint, offering a nice contrast against the green of other garden plants, and it’s a favorite among hummingbirds.

best full sun perennials catmint
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8. Catmint

  • Why We Love It: Blooms for several weeks, pollinator favorite

If you’re looking for a fuss-free perennial, it doesn’t get any better than catmint. With silvery foliage, purple spiked flowers, and pleasantly spicy-minty scented foliage, this plant tolerates poor soils, drought and heat in stride. Deer and rabbits tend to leave it alone.

best full sun perennials daylily
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9. Daylily

  • Why We Love It: Tough plant, low maintenance

If you’re a hands-off gardener, this is the plant for you. The flowers bloom for just one day (thus, the name!), but in great numbers. They come in every color of the rainbow.

best full sun perennials yarrow
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10. Yarrow

  • Why We Love It: Extremely sturdy plant that tolerates heat, drought and windy conditions

Yarrow is one of those plants you can rely on in the worst possible conditions. Available in a slew of colors ranging from apricot to hot pink, this plant flowers into early fall. Bonus: Butterflies love it.

best full sun perennials shasta daisy
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11. Shasta Daisy

  • Why We Love It: attracts pollinators, great for container gardens

Shasta daisies bloom and bloom, and bees and butterflies will flock to them. They work equally well in beds or containers, and they add a cheerful, whimsical vibe to your home.

best full sun perennials russian sage
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12. Russian Sage

  • Why We Love It: Lacey foliage, violet-blue flowers, drought tolerant

Russian sage is ideal in hot, dry areas, especially borders. The silvery foliage is pretty even after the blooms fade, and it pairs well with many other perennials.

best full sun perennials coreopsis
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13. Coreopsis

  • Why We Love It: Low maintenance, long blooming

Also known by the unglamorous name of tickseed, this sturdy plant blooms profusely throughout the summer. It’s attractive to pollinators, and the flowers are long-lasting in a vase.

best full sun perennials ornamental allium
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14. Ornamental Allium

  • Why We Love It: Cute little balls of flowers atop attractive foliage, deer resistant

Alliums come in every size you can imagine, but we love the smaller ornamental types that have little, globe-like flowers in late summer. They’re great in rock gardens or the front of borders, and deer tend not to bother them.

best full sun perennials chrysanthemum
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15. Chrysanthemum

  • Why We Love It: Super-hardy plants, reliable fall color

Mums announce that fall has arrived, and they come in every color from pumpkin orange to sunny yellow to deep burgundy. Plant them in the spring, and they’ll return every year (you’ll need to order online, as most garden centers only offer them in the fall). Fall-planted mums are treated more like annuals because they won’t have time to establish sturdy root systems before winter sets in.

best full sun perennials aster
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16. Aster

  • Why We Love It: Late-season color, attracts pollinators

Asters are another fall-blooming perennial you need in your garden. They come in shades of purple, pink and white, which make them the perfect complement to other fall flowers.

best full sun perennials sedum
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17. Sedum

  • Why We Love It: Hundreds of varieties, relatively drought tolerant

Sedum has fleshy leaves that help it survive dry spells, so it’s one of those plants you can ignore once established. With both low-growing and upright forms, it’s ideal in just about any setting.

best full sun perennials speedwell
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18. Speedwell

  • Why We Love It: attracts pollinators

The cute little spikey flowers cover low-growing deep green foliage. It’s ideal at the front of borders in a garden.

best full sun perennials bee balm
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19. Bee Balm

  • Why We Love It: Fringed, spiky flowers that attract pollinators

The fun and funky flowers in shades of purple, pink and red don’t mind heat or cold. They look best when planted in large swaths. Look for newer varieties which won’t overtake your garden.

best full sun perennials balloon flower
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20. Balloon Flower

  • Why We Love It: plump, round buds become star-shaped flowers (& offer major curb appeal)

Why wouldn’t you want this adorable plant in your garden? The cute buds are reason alone, but the pretty blue, pink or white flowers also bloom for several weeks in mid-summer.

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Arricca Elin SanSone

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...
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