If you receive plenty of sunlight, congratulations! You have a ripe opportunity to grow as many houseplants and outdoor plants as you want.
However, dealing with too much sun is as tricky as dealing with shadowy areas. It’s often difficult to find the right plants for very sunny spots.
You’ll find that most of these sun-loving plants are flowers because plants that put out blooms need the extra energy from sunlight to make that happen.
If you want to learn about plants that’ll handle the amount of light your garden receives, here’s a list of the best container plants for full sun!
1 – Petunias
For a riot of color in a range of shades, go with pots of petunias. They come in purple, red, pink, white, and different combinations of variegated shades too.
Petunias do just fine in fairly hot or sunny conditions but as I cover in another post, you will need to keep them watered when the soil is dry through the top inch.
These colorful flowers need 8 hours of sun, but they’ll manage fine with 5 or 6 hours.
Certain varieties grow in a vining fashion, making them excellent in hanging baskets or window boxes. Their tendrils will drape over the edges, creating a beautiful scene (these varieties are known as wave petunias).
Or, you can always stick to a more bush-shaped petunia for a standard planter.
2 – Lavender
If you have a large enough pot, lavender can be an excellent container plant and can even be grown indoors.
Unlike most of the others on this list, lavender can withstand freezing and can come up each year as a true perennial. In other words, it can grow larger each season.
Though I love the sight of lavender in raised beds, I think it’s better to grow it in a container. Otherwise, it may grow too much and overtake your garden.
To grow lavender properly, the soil in your container should be loose and well-draining, and you’ll need a spot with full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours.
You can let the soil dry right out as long as you give it a thorough soaking when you do water.
Try Phenomenal French Lavender from Nature Hills – it loves hot, humid, summer weather!
Most gardeners bring the dried flowers indoors for their lovely scent. If you want to do the same, you can harvest the floral spikes when they are in full bloom.
They’ll dry quickly and can be used around the house for a little aroma and to promote health.
3 – Million Bells
Though they look a lot like petunias, million bells are a different species of plant altogether. They are a low-growing plant, rarely getting to be a foot high.
Their brightly colored flowers look strikingly similar to small petunias.
Million bells aren’t as happy with the heat as petunias are. They love the sun, but they need a little shade in the summer, or else they’ll stop blooming early.
Their soil should be kept moist and not left to dry out too much.
4 – Sedum
Sedum is a really large group of succulents, with so many varieties that you might not even realize they all belong to the same category.
Some are low-growing creepers, and some stand up high.
Regardless, they all have characteristic fleshy leaves and produce large clusters of very small flowers that usually bloom in the late summer or fall.
My favorite types are the container-friendly varieties, such as Black Jack, Brilliant, and Showy Stonecrop.
Even though these succulents worship the sun, sedum plants are very cold-hardy and will get through winter fine.
While that’s good news, it also means they can outgrow a pot in a few years. Expect to repot or at least divide up your cluster of sedum on occasion.
For a pop of color, plant Sedum Rubrotinctum (available from Nature Hills Nursery). This variety of sedum turns from green to bright red during the summer, giving it the nickname “Jelly Bean Plant”.
5 – Canna Lilies
I love how elegant and tall lilies look in a container! I’d pick them over the other flowers on the list any day, especially canna lilies.
Canna lilies are only perennials in warmer zones 7 through 10. If that’s your region, beware that they may get a little too large for an average pot, reaching up to 8 feet high. In that case, it’s better to get a large wooden planter.
If you can’t find canna lily bulbs in your area, you can always find them on Amazon.
Get them situated in a spot with bright sun for most of the day, and possibly give them a feeding of fertilizer once a month.
Though they thrive in the sun, these lilies are not going to do well in dry conditions. Keep them regularly watered so the soil is moist at all times.
As each bloom starts to die back, snip off the stalk to prevent the flower from going to seed. This stimulates the plant to put up more flowers, rather than going dormant.
6 – Blanket Flower
Looking like a bright red and yellow daisy, the blanket flower is a colorful choice for sunny spots. They work very well in large containers and can reach heights between 1 and 3 feet, depending on the variety.
They don’t mind dry soil occasionally because they’re somewhat drought-tolerant.
You can find blanket flower seeds on Amazon. If you’re short on space, go for the “Goblin” strain that stays small.
A blanket flower will keep on blooming from early summer right through until you get your first frost. It’s a hardy perennial and will come back even after a cold winter.
If you’re not fond of replanting every spring, this will save you the effort.
7 – Portulaca
Portulaca is a popular choice for rock gardens, loving the sun and dry soil, and creeping to create a lovely ground cover.
Sometimes known as moss rose, this desert plant will grow in the most “inhospitable” garden spots. It blooms in many different colors and has unusually thin leaves along its tendrils.
If you love your plants to drape over the edges of a hanging basket like I do, you’ll love Portulaca!
However, you’ll want to learn how to take care of it properly.
It won’t likely survive the winter unless you live in a hot region (above zone 10), so just consider your portulaca as an annual.
The plant will need at least 8 hours of direct sun and should be watered when the soil has dried out.
Like with blanket flowers, you should pinch off the dead flowers to keep the plants blooming longer.
8 – Verbena
What verbena flowers lack in size, they make up for in number.
Large clusters of bright flowers, including some brilliant blue ones that are very striking, make this a very popular container plant.
Like several other plants on my list, there are many varieties to choose from—from larger upright plants to lower creeping types to suit your location.
These flowers will need fairly regular watering but will do fine if the soil dries out a little from time to time. Loose and well-draining soil is a must.
9 – Mint
Who doesn’t love the refreshing scent of mint in the morning? And the best part is, you can pluck some of it for a relaxing hot drink in the afternoon!
Mint grows perfectly well in the full sun if you make sure to water it frequently. It can also handle some shade, but its leaves may not be as flavorful.
Aside from its sun tolerance, mint is an excellent choice for containers because, otherwise, it may grow rapidly and overtake your garden.
10 – Mandevilla
If you love tropical vines, you’ll love having Mandevillas in your sunny garden. The colorful flowers, otherwise known as rock trumpets, are famous climbers that thrive under the full sun.
They come in a colorful punch of pink, red, white, and yellow.
These flowers need more than six hours of direct sunlight daily, or else their blooms will start diminishing. However, if you live in an area with sweltering summers, the climbing plant will appreciate some shade on particularly hot summer afternoons.
You can grow Mandevilla comfortably in pots with draining holes, but you may need to install a trellis to support the plant’s structure.
Container Planting Tips
No matter what specific plants you decide to grow, there are some handy tips about container gardening that can help you out.
For the sun-loving plants that don’t do well in wet soil, think about getting unglazed ceramic pots or boxes made from unsealed wood.
These materials will allow water to evaporate faster, and help keep the soil environment more suitable. You may have to water more often, but at least you eliminate the risk of water-logged roots.
You also have to remember that needing sunlight and tolerating heat are two different things. Even a sun-loving plant can get too hot.
So, watch for wilted plants or any that start to develop brown edges to their leaves.
Water more often, and possibly put something light up to give them a little shade until it cools off. Or, you can take advantage of the portable nature of containers and move your overheated plants temporarily.
Lastly, though not mentioned specifically for all plants above, a little fertilizer can be a smart move for any container plant. Without the natural flow of water and nutrients from the surrounding soil, a pot can become quite sterile.
A standard fertilizer blend for flowering plants can be applied to your pots about once a month to keep everything growing well.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.