The backbone of the traditional perennial border is made up of full sun perennials. They spring from the ground to give us the textures and shapes (not to mention the colors and fragrances) that make our gardens and dreams reality.
These plants are most often featured in garden photography and those to-die-for pictures in books and magazines. Luckily, full sun perennials for the garden are usually easy plants to grow if a few simple conditions are met:
Soils & Sunlight & Care for Perennial Flowers
They generally do not like heavy clay soils. The excessive winter moisture in these garden soils leads to rotting and winter death.
Full sun perennials prefer (obviously) full sun, although many will tolerate shade in the morning or late afternoon.
Getting them the sun between 9 am and 3 pm is considered crucial to success!
Like all things, though, the plants are more flexible than the written word, and I encourage you to experiment with new settings. If the plant thrives, you win. If it struggles, you can simply follow the directions elsewhere and move it again.
Full sun perennials really appreciate soils with high organic matter content. In my garden, I mulch the soil, and this decomposing mulch adds organic matter. I also throw compost over the top of the plants each fall and spring (right on top of the mulch – it sinks down pretty quickly) to feed and nourish the soil.
High organic content in soils is key to building a great perennial flower garden.
Full sun perennials appreciate regular maintenance. Tasks such as deadheading, perennial pruning, and division are part of the skills of the perennial gardener, and there are articles on the site dealing with these tasks.
I hope the articles here help your garden; they come from my own garden experiences over the past 15 years gardening with full sun perennials.
Here’s what you need to win with full sun perennials that bloom all summer
Some Popular Plants (complete list below)
Ornamental Onions or Alliums are one of the easiest full sun perennials to grow. Even though they are technically bulb, they deserve a place in the early summer perennial border.
Monkshood or Aconitum is a wonderful plant for full sun or light shade, and I particularly like the old-fashioned bicolor form. The fall-blooming varieties bring fantastic blue shades to the fall garden.
Coneflower or Echinacea. is a sun-loving beauty!
Peonies are one of the superb classic perennial flowers, and I’ll tell you how to quickly and easily stake them so you can’t see the stakes.
Hollyhocks are one of the stateliest and easiest of self-sowing perennials. Here’s how to grow and enjoy those blooms.
Coreopsis or Butter Daisy is one of the longest blooming plants in our garden.
Lavender is an aphrodisiac- that this is entirely true, as this article points out.
Lavatera is a tall, shrubby perennial that produces scads of pink flowers and is a good plant for the back of the border. It will take a bit of shade, too, so that makes it even more versatile.
Mountain Bluet, Bachelor Buttons, or Centaurea produces an early summer show of magnificently blue flowers.
Poppies are a visually exciting garden perennial. Their bright colors scream across the garden, and here’s how to grow them.
Black-Eyed Susan or Rudbeckia family plants. These are North American natives and fill our fall gardens with those wonderful yellows we associate with fall.
Baby’s Breath would come very close to being the essential plant for every garden.
Bellis or English Daisy is a charmer. This dainty flowering plant is considered a mixed blessing. In cold climates, it flowers as a biennial giving us scads of spring daisies. In warmer temperatures, it can escape from the garden into lawns and other areas.
Perennial Hibiscus It is a show-stopping plant.
Perennial geraniums will quickly win your heart. Full Sun Perennial Plant List
Achillea or yarrow is an excellent plant for sunny hot spots.
Aconitum or Monkshood is a lovely and easy-to-grow substitute for delphinium’s towering spikes. If you’ve ever seen this plant, you’ll notice that the individual blooms resemble a monk’s hood, which is why it was given this name.
Agastache has been in every one of my gardens, but here’s a warning about the newer ones.
Alchemilla or Lady’s Mantle is a love it or hates it chartreuse flower with fantastic foliage.
Allium or ornamental onions are among the most stunning and dramatic bulbous plant blooms. They range in size from little charmers like A. moly to spectacular specimens like A. giganteum (you only need one).
Anemone has lovely flowers, but they are primarily heartless spreading thugs. Love’em but control’em.
Aquilegia or Columbine is an excellent self-sowing perennial for sun or very light shade.
Asters or Michaelmas Daisies are the stars of the fall, full sun perennials lineup (in more ways than one, as this page points out).
Belamcanda or Leopard Lily or even Blackberry Lily is a short-lived but lovely iris- lookalike.
Buddleia or Butterfly Bush is one of the most fragrant ones of garden plants. And it really does attract butterflies!
Campanula or Bellflower are delightful bloomers but come with a spreading plant warning.
Caryopteris is a woody plant, but it can be grown like a perennial in colder areas.
Centaurea, Bachelor Buttons, or Mountain Bluet are one and the same.
Chrysanthemums are one of the easiest plants to grow. Here’s a recipe for growing fall mums successfully to get you started.
Coreopsis or Butter Daisy” is a garden stalwart and long-blooming.
Delphinium flowers are one of the loveliest of mid-summer tall flowers.
Eschscholzia californica or California Poppy is an annual in my garden but a self-sowing perennial in many slightly warmer gardens.
Helenium is a superb bloomer if you keep it damp. If you don’t keep it damp, it simply dies. One of the showiest of full sun perennials for the damp garden!
Hemerocallis or daylilies are stalwarts in the perennial border.
Iberis or Candytuft is an excellent rock garden plant in the full sun or light shade.
Iris and their sweet fragrance are one of the joys of early full sun perennials in the flower garden.
If you want some design hints for your own Iris Garden, you could go there.
One of the specialty iris – the Japanese Iris growing instructions can be found here.
And just to make your day, here are the different plants, all known as butterfly iris.
Another delightful and easily-grown member of the Iris family is the Siberian Iris Here’s how to grow it.
Arctic Iris is a delightful dwarf iris that cold temperatures can’t kill.
Lavender is among the most favorite of full sun perennials and belongs in every garden.
Madonna Lilies are one of the most delicate white lilies you can have in your garden.
Lupines are easy to grow if you give this plant precisely what it wants.
Lysimachia is suitable for sun or part shade.
Monarda or Beebalm is a garden backbone plant. Excellent, but a bit of a spreader.
Nepeta or Perennial Catnip is a delightful perennial for full sun. One of my favorite plants, and I collected almost every variety available.
Paeonia or peonies are classic perennials for the sun.
Papaver, what can you say about poppies other than they are spectacular.
Scabiosa or Pincushion flowers bloom all summer if kept deadheaded. It doesn’t like clay, but if you feed it – it blooms like mad. Here’s the rest of the growing instructions.
Trollius or Globeflower are bright yellow relatives of the buttercup (but far better garden plants) and can be grown and propagated with instructions here.
Veronica is one of the great blue flowers of the sunny perennial border, and you should grow it for this reason alone. Here are a few other reasons.