12 Full Sun Annuals (That Bloom All Summer)

Annual flowers, or bedding plants as some people like to call them, are a perfect way to add color and volume to your gardens. They grow quickly and are easy to maintain.

As long as you select the right annuals for your growing conditions and take proper care of the plants, you will be rewarded with an abundance of blooms that last all summer long.

For flower beds that receive full sun throughout the day, you will need to purchase annuals that can take the heat and want to soak up the sun.

Ask the plant experts at your local garden center or carefully read the labels on the plant containers so you find the ideal annuals for your growing conditions.

For months of colorful blooms, here are 12 full sun annuals to consider for your summer landscaping.

1. Petunias

Petunias are well-loved as a garden annual because they are dependable and adaptable. They thrive in full sun but will also perform well in partial shade.

You can plant them directly into your flower beds, or in hanging baskets, containers, and window boxes.

Petunias come in an array of colors, such as white, purple, pink, and red. There are even stripped and spotted varieties. The blooms are large and showy.

The plants start blooming in the spring and will continue to flower until fall. They do require a little assistance, however, to keep flowering all summer long.

You just need to deadhead your petunias – pluck the dead or dying flowers off the stem – to make way for new blooms.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds can be purchased as bedding plants, but they also grow easily from seed. They love full sun and well-drained soil, yet they are hardy and low maintenance.

Gardeners love them because they are bright and sunny, with pom pom-like flowers in colors ranging from yellow to orange to red.

Depending on the variety, the plants can stay low to the ground, only about six inches tall, or can grow as high as two feet tall.

All marigolds will bloom throughout the summer, but some of the newer varieties, like the ‘Big Duck’ hybrids, have been developed to have even longer blooming cycles.

An added benefit to including marigolds in your gardens is that the plants are a natural pest repellent. They keep away mosquitos and are also deer- and rabbit-resistant.

3. Zinnias

Many gardeners love to include zinnias in their flower beds, not only for their vibrant flowers, but because zinnias attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The annual plant is also heat resistant and easy to grow in sunny gardens.

Zinnias will begin blooming in late spring and you can expect to see the plants continuing to produce flowers until the first frost.

The zinnias’ daisy-like flowers in many colors, including red, pink, white, green, yellow, and orange. The size of the blooms varies too, from the dainty two-inch flowers to the impressive six-inch beauties.

There are dwarf species of zinnias that only grow to about six inches in height and giant varieties that grow to a whopping four feet tall. Zinnias can be used as an edging plant along a garden walkway or to add height and interest to a flower bed.

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Either way, zinnias will offer you months of pretty flowers and will encourage butterflies and hummingbirds to stop by your yard.

4. Cosmos

The delicate cosmos are annual flowers that add a whimsical, fairytale touch to any garden. Easy to grow, cosmos can be started as seeds on your windowsill or purchased in bedding flats at your local nursery or garden center.

Cosmos are sun-loving plants that grow best where there is no shade to block the sun’s rays.

Cosmos grow to a height of between two and four feet tall and have a spread of about two to three feet in width. The flowers are neat and orderly, with petals arranged around a yellow center.

You can find cosmos in a range of colors, from light pink to white, magenta, and lavender.

Plant your cosmos in the late spring after the last frost and you’ll see the plants start to bloom in just a few weeks, in early to mid-summer. Cosmos will continue to reward you with blooms until the first frost of fall.

Because of their height and how the flowers form on the stems, cosmos are ideal for cutting for vases and bouquets.

5. Geraniums

The classic red geranium has a reputation for being a perfect container annual, but the plant will also thrive in flower beds. They love the sun, yet they will also do well in gardens that receive afternoon shade.

We tend to think of geraniums as being red, however, they come in a range of colors, including pink, white, orange, and purple.

Although most varieties of geraniums grow to about two feet in height, there are now dwarf species available that reach only about six inches tall. There are even trailing ivy-like geranium hybrids on the market that look great in hanging baskets.

Geraniums don’t need a lot of fuss. They handle the heat well and can even withstand drought conditions. Even when you neglect them for a week or so, the geraniums will still offer up their cluster-like flowers week after week.

If you want to encourage more prolific blooming, however, you can deadhead the dying blooms and give the plants some fertilizer every few weeks.

6. Sunflowers

As the name suggests, sunflowers are sun lovers. The tall, grand flowers with their sunny yellow petals are a symbol of summer.

They are annual flowers that grow fast and tolerate the heat to give you radiant flowers by mid-summer that will last for several weeks.

There are several varieties of sunflowers. The classic sunflower we all picture is unique among annuals in that it grows extremely tall – up to 14 feet tall – and produces only a single flower.

Other varieties are not as tall – only about three or four feet in height – with several flowers on branching stalks.

The giant head of seeds produced by sunflowers provide an important food source for birds and insects. In fact, adding sunflowers to your flower beds is a great way to invite birds to your yard.

In the fall and early winter, you can opt to allow the sunflower heads to go to seed and remain in our garden to keep the wildlife happy.

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7. Salvia

Salvia, a type of ornamental sage, needs to be planted in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Tiny clusters of flowers, in purple, blue, and red, grow on spikes so they add a different texture and shape to your gardens.

In addition, you can expect your salvia to continue to bring color to your landscaping for most of the summer as the flowers typically bloom in early summer and keep going until it frosts.

The salvia stalks are rich in nectar which will attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your gardens. Salvia smells great, too. You will love snipping a few of the spikes to bring the fragrant scent indoors.

The unique shape of the salvia helps it offset the other flowers in your garden or can be used as a focal point of a flower bed. Salvia does well as a container plant, too, and can be used to add months of color to your deck or patio.

8. Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are a must-have if you are going for a cottage garden vibe or a Victorian garden aesthetic. Sweet peas are vining annuals that will climb over a fence or trellis for a romantic look.

The intoxicating fragrance of sweet peas is another reason why this annual remains so popular.

Sweet peas grow best in full sun, however, they are not as easy to grow as other sun-loving annuals. They are somewhat slow to germinate and will fade if it gets too chilly at night.

The blossoms of the sweet peas plants range in color from purple and lavender to pink and magenta, as well as white and cream.

The plants will begin to bloom in early summer and continue to gift you with an abundance of flowers throughout the summer months.

9. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums need six to eight hours of full sunlight each day in order to produce an abundance of blooms. If they don’t receive an adequate amount of sun, their flower production drops off.

Some vining varieties of nasturtiums will need supports, like arbors or trellises, but the non-vining varieties can be grown in flower beds or in containers.

Nasturtiums can be relied on to bloom all summer long, in most situations. They are somewhat drought-tolerant, but high temperatures can cause them to become heat-stressed.

The flowers of the nasturtium plants are rounded with five petals growing around a center. The colors can be quite bold and vibrant. Varieties range from bright yellow and orange, to peach and salmon.

A nice thing about nasturtiums is that they thrive in poor soil. Too much nitrogen, in fact, will trigger the plants to produce more foliage than flowers.

They like the soil to be a bit moist, but too much water will cause them to stress out, reducing flower output.

10. Verbena

If you hope to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden, try planting verbena. This full-sun annual produces nectar that birds and insects love, which is why it is sometimes nicknamed the ‘honey plant.’

The verbena plants produce tiny, five-petaled flowers that grow in clusters on spikes. The most common color of verbena flowers is blue, but there are now varieties on the market that have purple, pink, or white blooms. The leaves of the verbena are hairy.

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In warm, subtropical climates, verbena can be grown as a perennial, but most species are too delicate to be wintered over, therefore they are best grown as annuals. The plants are drought-resistant and thrive in full sun.

Verbena is a popular bedding plant for gardeners because of the unique texture of its foliage and the spikes of flowers that provide color all summer long.

11. Ageratum

Ageratums are annual bedding plants that will add a whimsical charm to your garden.

The plant goes by several nicknames, including the floss flower, blue weed, blue mink, and Mexican paintbrush. That’s because the petals are thin, hair-like rays that form in tight clusters.

Although they are grown as an annual plant, ageratum is technically a fast-growing shrub. It will grow as tall as three feet and have a spread equal to that. The flowers appear in May and continue as late in the season as November.

Butterflies love ageratum and will spend time in your garden to be close to this plant. It grows best in full sunlight and tolerates the heat well.

Ageratum flowers are typically blue, but you can now find white, pink, and purple hybrids on the market.

12. Celosia Spicata

A low-maintenance annual plant, celosia spicata will start flowering in early summer and continue until the first frost, giving your garden months of color.

The flower is unusual in that it is flame-shaped and comes in deep red, orange, yellow, and burgundy shades. It is no wonder that its name means “burning” in Ancient Greek.

Celosia spicata plants stay close to the ground, with a maximum height of roughly one foot. Sun lovers, the celosia tolerates heat and dry conditions. If grown in damp, moist areas, however, they will underperform.

In some parts of the world, celosia seeds are eaten as a type of grain. In the other areas, it is strictly grown for ornamental purposes.

The flowers of the celosia plant last more than two weeks as cut flowers and they are also easy to dry for dry floral arrangements.


If your yard lacks shade and your flower beds are in full sun all day long, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice season-long blooms. These 12 annual garden plants are all sun lovers that have a reputation for producing flowers all summer long. Add some of these sun-loving annuals to your landscaping for colorful blooms that last until the first frost of fall.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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