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