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10 Tough Flowers That Survive in Harsh Sun

If your garden is all sun and no shade, these plants will add vibrance to your space.

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flower bed ideas for full sunGuitarM/Shutterstock

Tough Full Sun Flowers For Your Garden

Sometimes you just need a sure thing. An easy, low-maintenance plant for your garden. It goes without saying that the hardiest and healthiest flowers are those suited to your growing conditions.

To find out what planting zone you live in, refer to this chart from the USDA. Matching plants to your climate, soil, sunlight and moisture levels gives you the most success with the least effort. Native flowers are always a good place to start. They provide food for native birds and butterflies, and they’re already accustomed to your region.

If you include some of these in your garden planning, you’ll be able to say you have some of the toughest plants in America!

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Lantana flowersPhatcharee Saetoen / EyeEm/Getty Images

Lantana

These cheery flowers come in a variety of colors. They do best with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Some varieties feature gorgeous multi-colored blooms like the ones pictures here. Others are solid-colored. They handle heat well, too, and are a good choice for landscaping in hot weather.

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Zinnia AN NGUYEN/Shutterstock

Zinnias

When these adaptable flowers get full sun, they can grow up to three feet high. However, they will also do well in shade. Zinnias also tolerate heat well, although some species are susceptible to mildew. Advances in breeding and hybridization have produced species and cultivars that are disease-resistant, performing well even in the muggy summers of the Southeast.

Zinnias are annuals, and many self-sow readily in the garden each year. Zinnias are a must-have in a butterfly garden, and some species attract hummingbirds as well. Because they’re annuals, they transform from seed to flower in record time and their blooms last all summer long!

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yellow flowers K-Smile love/Shutterstock

Sunflower

Some varieties of sunflowers grow to up to 10 feet tall! Choose a variety that stays a reasonable height and you’ll enjoy showy flowers and tasty seeds. If you choose the Soraya, expect stunning blooms on sturdy stems, so you don’t have to worry about them falling over. It grows up to six feet tall and is a pretty cut flower as well.
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Dahlberg DaisyVesela Boycheva/Getty Images

Dahlberg Daisy

Dahlberg daisies are native to south Texas and northern Mexico, so they love hot, dry conditions and don’t enjoy extended high humidity or soggy soils. Plant them in dry, well-drained soil and give them lots of sunshine. Once established, they’ll thrive for weeks on end without much rain.

They’re intolerant of frost or freezes, so start them inside from seed and transplant outdoors once winter has finally given up in your area. This low-growing, spreading plant looks best along borders or in hanging baskets, where folks can appreciate up close the little blooms and fragrant feathery foliage.

Some butterflies even use these flowers for nectar, so you might try them as edging in a sunny butterfly garden.

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VincaNancybelle Gonzaga Villarroya/Getty Images

Annual Vinca

Annual vinca is a compact plant, growing to about 15 in. x 15 in. Multiple five-petaled blooms that appear continuously set off the shiny green leaves. Vinca is available in a range of shades including white, pink, red, purple and lavender.

Vinca needs little maintenance and deadheading isn’t required. They do well in full sun to part shade, and can tolerate some drought, although they flower best with regular watering. Trailing vinca is wonderful for containers or as ground cover. Butterflies visit annual vinca for nectar, although it’s not their preferred garden plant.

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PentasKhairil Azhar Junos/Shutterstock

Pentas

In most of the country, pentas are grown as an annual, though you can overwinter them in zones without frost. They’re readily available in nurseries in most areas and easy to grow.

The clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers are laden with nectar, and butterflies of all sizes love to visit them. Grow pentas in full to part sun, and provide regular water especially as they establish.

They grow well both in the ground and in containers.

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peonySerhii Brovko/Shutterstock

Peony

Peonies like sun. When you’re planting peonies be mindful of location. Avoid trees that will grow and shade them. With its green foliage and showy blooms, you wouldn’t think that the peony does well in a dry garden, but you’d be surprised.

And since the flowers are fragrant, it’s a popular choice as a cut flower as well. Peonies likes full sun or partial shade, and grow to a height and width of up to 35 inches. Another plus is that they are resistant to deer and rabbits.

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Beardedtongue flowerLisa Romerein/Getty Images

Beardtongue

Penstemon, also known as beardtongue, are a great addition to a drought tolerant garden with their flowering spikes that color the landscape in spring and summer. Each flowering spike consists of multiple blossoms ranging in color from pale pink, rose, magenta, purple and red depending on the species.

Besides adding beauty to the garden, hummingbirds are drawn to their tubular flower. The majority of penstemon species are tough and thrive on neglect. Their needs are few and they do best in drought tolerant gardens with well-drained soil, full sun to filtered shade, and supplemental water during the warm months of the year.

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Russian sageloflo69/shutterstock

Russian Sage

The distinctive spiky shape of Russian sage with its lavender blue flowers stands alone in the garden. This small shrub is often treated as a perennial. Its silvery stems and leaves are fragrant, and its flowers can appear as early as late spring and all the way into early fall, depending on your zone. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all attracted to this small shrub, but deer and rabbits are not.

Russian sage can be grown in a wide variety of climates all the way from Zone 3 to Zone 10. In colder climates, it will die back to the ground only to reappear in spring. Those in warmer climates, Zone 8 and above, will enjoy this shrub all year long. Extremely drought tolerant, Russian sage needs well-drained neutral to slightly alkaline soil, full sun and hot summers to look its best.

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YarrowLianeM/Shutterstock

Fernleaf Yarrow

Fernleaf yarrow, or simply yarrow, is an easy perennial that grows in nearly any sunny situation, even with poor soil. This species forms a tall, bushy mound of fragrant ferny foliage, with huge clusters of golden-yellow flowers appearing on tall stems beginning in early summer. Outstanding for cutting, fresh or dried. Remove faded flowers regularly to promote continued blooming.