Full sun annuals are wonderful additions to your yard or landscape if you’re not sure what would look best as they die off after a year. There are dozens of different full sun annuals available, and they come in a host of bright colors, sizes, and shapes to add interest and texture to your yard. You can easily plant them in containers, raised planter boxes, along walkways, or in traditional flower beds. If you mix and match your full sun perennials, you can get a colorful show that starts in the early spring months and goes well into fall. However, you have to know which ones to plant.
I want you to have success with your full sun perennials and boost your home’s curb appeal all season long, and this is why I created this extensive list. I’ll have full sun perennials in all shapes, sizes, and colors that you can look at and decide whether or not they’re something you want to try. Most of them are easy to grow and maintain, and a lot of them like the same growing conditions. This makes it easy to care for them all at the same time and keep them healthy until they die back in the fall months.
1. Sweet Peas
The first full sun annual on the list is the Sweet Pea, and this plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean region. They come in different hues of purple, pink, and red, and they produce a very sweet fragrance when they start to bloom. Depending on the cultivare you choose, they can get up to nine-feet high. There are also species that will only get up to around 20-inches high at full maturity, and these are excellent for potted plants. The deep green foliage helps the flowers stand out even more. They grow best in zones 8 to 10 in a rich but well-drained soil and a lot of sun.
Sweet Peas by Santrina0 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Marigolds are, hands down, one of the easiest full sun annuals to grow. They can grow well in zones 2 go 11 as long as you put them in a well-drained soil with plenty of sunshine. They don’t tolerate cold well, and the seeds start to germinate around the middle of April. You should start to see flowers very quickly, and they can grow between six-inches and two-feet tall, depending on the cultivar. You’ll get green foliage that is very thick with these plants, and they have a rounded flower head that is a bright pop of color that comes in yellow, red, and orange. As a bonus, this plant is excellent for pest repellent.
Marigolds by oatsy40 / CC BY 2.0
This is another very hardy full sun annual that will grow in almost any container or soil without a problem. Another nice point with Calibrachoas is that they will bloom during the spring, summer, and fall months to put on a colorful show. You can get them in burgundy, lavender, pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, and coral. They’re native to South America, and they grow very well planted in the ground or in containers in zones 9 to 11. They will have problems when it starts to get cold out, and the first frost will kill them. They’re a smaller flower with a cheerful yellow center.
Calibrachoas by JeromeG111 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These are full sun annuals that can bloom and look beautiful throughout the fall months until the first frost comes along. Impatiens grow well in zones 9 through 11, and they come in a variety of sizes. For example, some species are only around a foot high, but you can find ones that easily top three feet before they finish growing. They come in yellow, purple, white, violet, and red, and you can find these flowers growing wild in Africa, Europe, and Eurasia. They have deep green foliage that can have a glossy look to it to help offset the flower colors even more, and they grow best in clumps.
Impatiens by NYC Tom / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If you’re looking for a full sun annual that produces bigger flowers, look no further than Lisianthus. They have funnel-shaped petals on the flowers that come in pale pink, deep purple, blue tinted, lavender, or purple. As a bonus, they do well in all hardiness zones, and you can grow them in pots or in the ground without an issue. They like well-drained all-purpose potting soil with a lot of sunshine, and they can reach up to 30-inches tall under the correct conditions. They have slender stalks with slightly elongated leaves that help fill in the area around this flower.
Lisianthus by cdanna2003 / CC BY-SA 2.0
Petunias are one full sun annual that does spectacularly when you plant them in hanging baskets. They do grow in partial shade, but they’ll bloom fully when you put them in an area that gets bright, direct sunlight. This type of growing environment will also encourage them to reach 15-inches tall, and they produce very big flowers in a variety of colors. This plant is a native to Argentina, and it does very well outside in zones 9 to11. You will have to prune their stems and deadhead them to keep them blooming until the fall months. They come in rich purple, pink, white, and bi-colored designs.
Petunia by Maureen Barlin / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
7. Celosia Spicata
This full sun annual comes in deep shades of orange, burgundy, red, and yellow when it blooms to create an eye-catching display in your yard. In zones 3 to 11, these plants are very widely spread, and they’re native to South America, North America, Asia, and Africa. You’ll start to see bloom in the middle of summer, and the blooms will continue for 8 to 10 weeks until the first frost. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance as it reseeds itself, but it does like to be in a spot that has well-draining soil. It’ll grow to be up to a foot tall under the correct conditions with deep green foliage.
Celosia Spicata by Shou-Hui Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0
Geraniums adore the sun, and these full sun annuals also like afternoon shade. They grow very rapidly when they’re in zones 9 to 12. You can choose from several different cultivars, from ones that grow only to six inches high or larger varieties that will get over two-feet high. You can choose from a broad range of colors, including purple, orange, red, white, and pink. They can get slightly leggy if you don’t watch them, and they do well in containers or hanging baskets. If you bring them indoors before the first frost hits, they can bloom on and off throughout the winter months too.
Geranium by Kim Wall / CC BY-NC 2.0
9. Spider Flowers
This unique full sun annual features spider-like petals on the flower that starts blooming in June. It’s a huge attractant for pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies the whole time it blooms. You’ll find this flower in purple, pink, white, or rose coloring. They’re native to South America, but they can grow very well outside in zones 2 to 11. They’ll reach up to 60 inches tall at full maturity, and they don’t need a lot of maintenance because they routinely self-seed. You should leave 18 inches between the plants to give them room to spread out. They like rich but well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine.
Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) by Ali Eminov / CC BY-NC 2.0
Cosmos are a full sun annual that produce orderly arranged flowers that come in lavender, red, pink, white, or yellow-ish orange coloring. All of the petals gather neatly around a bright yellow center to create a nice look. They do well in zones 6 to 10, and this plant is very tolerant to droughts if you forget to water it once in a while. This plant does come with a longer growing season, so they won’t start to bloom until the late summer months. However, they’ll add pops of color well into fall. On average, Cosmos will get around 12-inches tall at full maturity, and they like a slightly sandy but well-drained soil.
Cosmos by Yamanaka Tamaki / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The bright colors on this full sun annual is an excellent attractant for hummingbirds and butterflies. Also, this plant is very easy to grow and maintain, and it can easily withstand extreme heat without sustaining damage. They grow well in zones 3 to 11, and they start blooming late in the spring before continuing on until the first frost hits. You’ll get white, green, orange, pink, yellow, and red shades for the flowers. Giant Zinnias can reach up to four feet tall, and there are shorter varieties that will only get up to six-inches tall at full maturity. They have long and slender stalks with longer leaves.
Zinnia by Jim, the Photographer / CC BY 2.0
There are many types of Begonias available, but they’re all full sun annuals that will start blooming in the middle of June. In zones 9 to 11, they’ll continue to bloom well into the fall months. You do have to have them in a well-drained soil that you keep consistently moist for them to do well, but they can reach an impressive 12-feet tall. These plants are very cold-sensitive, and they won’t survive anything below freezing. The flowers come in red, pink, or white, and they grow well in hanging baskets or in flower beds. They can cause an allergic reaction in people, and they’re toxic to pets.
Begonia by Keith Davenport / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Many people adore these full sun annuals for their color, and they do well in the Northern Hemisphere in zones 3 to 11. They’ll blossom all spring and summer, and they can grow to an impressive eight-feet tall at full maturity. They will tolerate a few hours in the shade, but they prefer full sun. They like to grow in pots or in sandy soil that drains very well. They come in bright shades of blush pink, fiery red, deep orange, bright white, and salmon pink that make them a favorite addition to any landscape. They grow on long and slender stems with deeper green foliage to make them stand out more.
Poppies by Joe Flintham / CC BY-SA 2.0
14. Sweet Alyssum
These full sun annuals will produce bright blooms with full sun exposure, but they can do well in a little shade during the hotter portion of the day. They’ll start blooming during the spring months, and they’ll continue on until the first hard frost when you plant them in zones 2 to 11. You don’t want to water them a lot because the roots will rot in overly wet soil. They get between four to six inches high, so they’re great for walkway edging or in containers. You can get pale pink or white colors, and there are also a few purple petals.
Lobularia maritima – Sweet Alyssum by Sean A. O’Hara / CC BY 2.0
This full sun annual is a butterfly magnet, and it’ll look nice planted in containers or flower beds. Additionally, it does well as a ground cover or as a border in zones 4 to 9. You can find this plant with flowers in shades of purple, red, or pink, and the most common ones are a soft rose coloring. They’re native to Madagascar, and they do very well in a rich soil that drains well under plenty of sun. They can grow up to 12-inches high at full maturity, and the foliage can come in bright green, dark green, or bi-coloring to make them look more eye-catching in your design.
Vinca by Manel / CC BY-ND 2.0
If you’re looking for a full sun annual that doubles as a natural rabbit repellent, Ageratum is one to try. Better known as Floss Flowers, you’ll find them in shades of white, pink, blue, and violet. You’ll get shapely mounds with this plant that is an excellent attractant for butterflies, and they can get up to two-feet tall at full maturity. As a bonus, this plant isn’t picky about the soil quality. They can grow well in all-purpose potting mix, sandy or loamy soil, or clay-like soil. The soil should drain well, and they need plenty of sun. The slender stalks hold the clusters above bright green foliage.
Ageratum by lecuyer.cedric / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Pentas produce star-shaped flowers that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds when they bloom, and this full sun annual will help keep your garden lively and colorful all season long. They can get up to 36-inches tall at full maturity, and they’ll bloom from the early summer months well into the fall. They grow best in zones 9 to 10, and you have to make a point to give them plenty of water. The soil should drain very well after watering sessions to keep the roots healthy. This is a very common addition to many butterfly gardens, and they’re native to Arabia and Africa.
Petnas by Toshiyuki IMAI / CC BY-SA 2.0
Lantana plants are full sun annuals that are very popular for growing in containers because they can gently spill over the sides. These are hardy plants that will repeatedly bloom through the summer, and they have fat flower clusters that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These plants are deer-resistant, and they’re very tolerant to drought. This means they’ll forgive you if you forget to water them a few times. You can get them in a huge range of colors and multi-colors, and they can get up to 26-inches tall and 24-inches wide. They grow well in sandy soil or all-purpose potting mix, and they have variegated foliage.
Lantana by Ignacio Diez / CC BY 2.0
Nemesia is a full sun annual that is a great pick if you want to add some colors to your late spring or early summer designs. You can choose from many colors, including blends and bi-colors. They have a slight mounding habit that makes them an excellent candidate for basket or container edges where they can gently spill over. They do better in containers than in beds because they need excellent drainage, and they don’t need you to deadhead them to encourage blooming. They grow up to 12-inches tall and 18-inches wide under the correct growing conditions. They give your containers a very full look, and they have bright green foliage to help fill it in.
Nemesia by Dean Morley / CC BY-ND 2.0
20. Moss Roses
If you’re wondering the best time to plant roses, this full sun annual makes it very easy. They thrive in harsh environments, and they love dry, hot locations. These are succulent plants that grow well in baskets because they trail, or they can turn into a unique groundcover when you plant them in beds. They can bloom nonstop from spring until fall without a lot of water or general care, and they can seed for the following year. These are slightly smaller plants that will get up to 18 inches wide but only 6 inches tall under the best growing conditions. They come in a huge range of colors with spiky green foliage.
Portulaca grandiflora by Thangaraj Kumaravel / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Verbena is another deer-resistant full sun annual that could come in handy if you have a problem keeping the deer out of your plants. It acts like a spiller and a filler if your containers because it can spread out and trail over the edges. You could also use it to add color to your landscape beds as a ground cover. It’ll re-bloom very quickly, and it’ll give you bright colors from early spring until late fall. It can get up to 12-inches tall and 36-inches wide at full maturity. You may need to deadhead some of the older varieties to encourage them to keep blooming, but the newer ones don’t require this step.
Verbena by Marilylle Soveran / CC BY-NC 2.0
Sunflowers are a good full sun annual if you’re a novice gardener because they don’t require a lot of upkeep to produce large, cheerful blooms. It’s a fantastic cut flower, and there are varieties available that can grow between 2 and 16-feet tall with a 20 to 36-inch spread. They come in a traditional yellow with a dark center, but you can find different colors. They make great food for any visiting birds, and sunflower seeds make a healthy snack if you dry them out. They have very tall and slender stalks in deep green that help offset the bright yellow blooms. They’re a fun way to fill in a larger space.
Sunflower by Aldrin Rocky / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Any cutting garden needs to have these full sun annuals in them. They’re easy to grow from seed, or you can purchase them from nurseries. You can choose from compact, medium, and very tall varieties that range from 8 and 48-inches tall and 6 to 18-inches wide. Taller Snapdragons might need staking to help support the thin stems and prevent them from snapping off. You get a variable rainbow of colors to choose from, and you can cut them off at the base once they bloom to encourage new blooms. They add height and texture to your yard or landscape, and they’ll bloom until the fall months.
Snapdragons by Tony Alter / CC BY 2.0
Salvia is a full sun annual that produces spikes of flowers that can sit up to 48-inches tall. They tend to be slightly more narrow, and they entice hummingbirds to your space. You can find them in shades of pink, red, and orange. The foliage is a deep green, but you can find cultivars that offer golden-yellow foliage and bright flowers. They start to bloom in the middle of summer and go until the first fall. This plant needs a well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients. You should make a point to water them regularly, and they do well planted in flower beds or in containers.
Salvia by Jim, the Photographer / CC BY 2.0
25. African Daisy
These are cheerful fun sun annuals that both deer and rabbits will ignore. They do very well when you plant them in a space that has well-draining soil, and they are excellent planted in container gardens. You don’t have to deadhead them, and the plant will grow to hide the dead blooms. They bloom in late spring to early fall in hotter climates, and they dislike intense, direct heat. In a more temperate climate, they’ll bloom for months on end. You can get single and double-headed varieties, and you can cut the blooms to use in arrangements as soon as they open. They get between 8 and 24-inches tall by 12 to 24-inches wide and come in several bright colors.
African Daisy by Jay Kleeman / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These 25 full sun annuals will add bright splashes of colors to your garden or landscape design, and they can easily help boost your home’s curb appeal by making the space look more cheerful and inviting. I’ve given you a host of options that you can mix and match to fill in any horizontal or vertical gaps you may currently have, and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the colorful show all summer long. What’s even better, you can mix them up each year and try new plants to see which ones will make a permanent impression on your landscape or garden design.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.