16 Full-Sun Shrubs That Will Thrive in Even the Brightest Parts of Your Lawn

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If you’re blessed with a bright, sunny yard, you’re in luck—many shrubs love, love, love full sun. While evergreen shrubs can offer year-round interest, flowering shrubs attract pollinators and provide food and shelter to wildlife. Round out your garden by planting both types for year-round interest.

Shrubs also offer structure and form to your garden, and they can provide privacy and make a space feel more defined as an outdoor room. Plus, shrubs live for years and years if they have the right conditions, so they’re a great long-term investment for your garden.

When shopping, read the plant tag or description to check if the shrub will survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here). You’ll also want to consider the shrub’s mature size, and plant it where it has space to grow. It might not look like much now in its quart or gallon-sized pot, but you don’t want to create a maintenance nightmare in a few years because it’s crowding other plants, needing constant trims, or covering up windows. 

How Much Light Does My Plant Need?

Full-sun shrubs need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. You can’t cheat! Shrubs that prefer sun, especially flowering shrubs, will not thrive if you don’t give them the correct sun exposure. They might hang on, but they won’t bloom well, and they’ll tend to stretch toward the light and turn scraggly. Not a good look! Make sure to plant where your new sun-loving shrub gets a full dose of sunshine every day.

What's the Best Way to Plant Full-Sun Shrubs?

When it’s time to plant your new shrub, dig a hole about two to three times the size of the root ball. Remove the shrub from its pot or burlap, and rough up the root ball a bit with your gloved hand. Then place it in ground at the same level it was in the container. Replace the soil in the hole and tamp down to remove air pockets, then water well. Finally, add a layer of mulch 2 to 3 inches thick (but not right up against the stems, which will invite pests and disease) to help retain moisture and keep down weeds. 

21 Fast-Growing Shrubs for Anyone Who Needs to Boost Their Curb Appeal Fast

Here are our favorite full-sun shrubs:

full sun shrubs butterfly bush
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1. Butterfly Bush

  • Why We Love It: Lots of blooms that pollinators love all season long
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

This shrub has pretty spikes of purple, pink or white blooms, and new varieties are more compact and not invasive. Plant in a mixed border or as an accent.

full sun shrubs forsythia
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2. Forsythia

  • Why We Love It: Early season blooms herald the arrival of spring
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

The bright yellow blooms of this shrub appear before the foliage in early spring. It’s now available in more petite sizes so it won’t become overgrown like older varieties.

full sun shrubs juniper
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3. Juniper

  • Why We Love It: Evergreen that’s available in both low-growing and upright types
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7

Junipers are hardy evergreens with attractive, textured foliage. Depending on the variety, they make great groundcovers, hedges or accent plants.

full sun shrubs ninebark
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4. Ninebark

  • Why We Love It: Elegant arching branches, spring flowers, attracts pollinators
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7

This native shrub is a beautiful addition to the landscape. It has a graceful form and green, burgundy or rust-colored foliage. Fragrant white or pink spring flowers attract pollinators. Look for new, smaller varieties that won’t take over your garden.

full sun shrubs weigela
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5. Weigela

  • Why We Love It: Pretty, tube-shaped flowers that attract pollinators
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

Weigela has beautiful green or burgundy foliage with pretty pink flowers. It’s also deer-resistant, so it’s a great option if Bambi is a regular visitor to your garden.

full sun shrubs hydrangea
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6. Hydrangea

  • Why We Love It: Huge variety and three-season interest with papery flowers in many different shapes
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Hydrangeas grow in almost every climate, and they need sun to bloom well; in warm climates, however, some types do best with a little afternoon shade. Read the tag to know the mature size because there are tons and tons of new varieties.

full sun shrubs dappled willow
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7. Dappled Willow

  • Why We Love It: Fast-growing shrub with lovely pink and white leaf variegation
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

Dappled willows make a colorful border or accent plant. Although they like moisture, they’ll adapt fine to drier conditions, too. It’s a fast-grower, so pruning will keep it shape as well as reveal the most colorful foliage, which is most apparent on new growth.

full sun shrubs potentilla
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8. Potentilla

  • Why We Love It: Sturdy, reliable bloomer with season-long color
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9

Potentilla is extremely cold hardy and deer resistant. Its cheery pink, white or yellow blooms appear from late spring to first frost, so they’re one of the longest-blooming shrubs for your garden. It’s a good foundation planting or low hedge.

full sun shrubs hibiscus
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9. Hardy Hibiscus

  • Why We Love It: Tropical flair with big, bold blooms in bright colors
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

This shrub has the most amazing, bold blooms that will steal the show in your garden. Hardy hibiscus is a shrubby perennial that can handle cold weather, while tropical hibiscus is treated as an annual that is not frost tolerant.

full sun shrubs spirea
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10. Spirea

  • Why We Love It: Sturdy shrub with attractive foliage in shades of green or chartreuse
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Spirea is a hardy, deer-resistant shrub to use as a hedge or accent plant. It’s one of the toughest shrubs you’ll ever grow. New varieties rebloom throughout the season and have colorful new growth.

full sun shrubs koreanspice viburnum
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11. Koreanspice Viburnum

  • Why We Love It: Clusters of waxy, fragrant flowers in spring
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

This viburnum has pretty, super-fragrant spring flowers and is deer resistant. It makes a stunning flowering hedge or accent plant. New varieties are more compact so they fit in smaller spaces.

full sun shrubs rose of sharon
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12. Rose Of Sharon

  • Why We Love It: Starts blooming when the rest of your garden begins to fade
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

Rose of Sharon comes in array of pretty colors and sizes, attracts pollinators and adds late summer color to your garden. Look for new varieties, which can have a more compact size or columnar shape.

full sun shrubs false cypress
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13. False Cypress

  • Why We Love It: Evergreen shrub in colors ranging from chartreuse to yellow
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

False cypress comes in many different sizes and forms, from upright to low-growing. (Low-growing types are ideal as foundation plantings or to line walkways, while upright types make nice accent plants.) Its attractive, delicate foliage ranges from pale green to bright yellow.

full sun shrubs lilac
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14. Lilac

  • Why We Love It: long-lasting, fragrant spring flowers
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7

When it comes to getting serious bang for your buck, look to lilacs—they can live for decades. They bloom in late spring with a sweet, delicate scent and lovely purple, white or pink flower spikes with glossy green leaves. (Psst: Search for new reblooming and more compact varieties. They make a great accent or flowering hedge.)

full sun shrubs shrub rose
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15. Shrub Rose

  • Why We Love It: Easy-to-grow, blooms from spring to frost
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 11

Believe it or not, shrub roses are pretty much indestructible and provide long-season color. New varieties are more disease and pest resistant and come in a rainbow of gorgeous colors and sizes.

full sun shrubs arborvitae
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16. Arborvitae

  • Why We Love It: Hardy evergreen shrub, comes in wide range of sizes and shapes
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Arbs are some of the most adaptable, easy-to-grow evergreens around. Round varieties are especially alluring and maintain their shape with no pruning. Dwarf varieties max out at a foot or two tall and wide, so they make great foundation plantings.

Why You Should Trust Us

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 national publications.

She also trials new plant cultivars and field tests garden products to evaluate practicality and durability.

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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...