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14 Colorful Summer Annuals for the Full Sun

Need some summer annuals that are easy to grow and manage in the full sun? These colorful flowers are sure to brighten up any garden. All are suited to for container gardening too.

a collage with sulfur cosmos godetia annual vinca & zinnias the text reads 14 Colorful Summer Annuals for the Full Sun.

Most gardeners really enjoy bold, beautiful flowers in their yard. If you’re the same way, you should consider plants that can survive the hot sun throughout the summer months. There are plenty of flowers that are annuals for the full sun.

What is the full sun?

When we mention full sun, we’re talking about plants that can tolerate full sun exposure for most of the day or the entire day. All plants require sunlight but some perform much better in the shade or indirect light.

Growing plants in the full sun can be challenging, but it’s doable with the right plants. The list below includes flowers that are native mainly to the southern United States, Mexico, and South America. Remember that plants can’t escape to air-conditioned homes when it’s 90 degrees outside!

Luckily, there are plenty of gorgeous flowers to choose from! These can all be grown in containers, pots or planters as well as in the garden bed. Here is the list of my favorite annuals for the full sun:

Marigolds

close up of orange & yellow bi-colored marigolds

That pop of orange! Native to Mexico and South America, this bright flower also comes in yellow & red. These are very independent plants because once they are planted, they take off! Marigolds grow in no time.

There are four different types of Marigolds:
– African – Tall
– French – Much shorter
– Triploid – A mixture of both African and French; they grow in a variety of colors
– Single – Resemble daisies

These are one of my favorite plants to look at. I guess I have a thing for orange!

Zinnias

a bouquet of pink, orange, yellow & red zinnias

A beautiful daisy-like flower, the Zinnia can be pink, yellow, red, white or even green. Butterflies love this one!

They’re one of the easiest flowers to look after. Described as a hot-climate plant, the Zinnias fit the bill when it comes to searching for a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in the summer heat. And, they make great cut flowers.

Cosmos

close up of pink COSMOS annuals for the full sun

If you want a variety of colors in your garden, the Cosmos is a good choice from the sunflower family. White, pink, orange, yellow, and scarlet are the colors you can expect to see. These flowers grow quickly and are easy to maintain. I love the way the taller varieties dance in the breeze.

Lisianthus

close up of purple LISIANTHUS annuals for the full sun

A popular plant due to its durability, the Lisianthus is often used as an ornamental. There are a few things you need to know to get them to thrive, but once you get it down, the gorgeous flowers are so worth it. They’re so pretty and long lasting in arrangements.

Petunias

rows of red, white & purple PETUNIAS annuals for the full sun

Petunias are one of the easiest plants to maintain and have been on the scene for ages. They were the quintessential summer annual for sun but my how times have changed. You have so many choices with these now because they’re sold in such a wide variety of colors as well as sizes. Many are suitable in hanging baskets. If you also happen to enjoy painting, the petunias are fun to replicate!

Angelonia

close up of purple ANGELONIA annuals for the sun

Growing up to 18 inches tall, the Angelonia maintains a bushy, rounded form. The flowers come in shades of white, pink, blue and purple with a fruity scent. Their common name is “Summer Snapdragon” and you can see certainly see the resemblance.

Cleome

close up of hot pink cleome flower

via Eden Brothers

Also known as the spider plant, the Cleome is so unique. Many gardeners miss out on this flower because frankly, it looks like a clump of weeds if you were to purchase it at the store. Cleomes are long and thin and their height ranges from 3-4’ so this one’s good for the back of the border. It takes 6 weeks or so to grow, but once they do – oh boy! White, pink, and purple are the colors you can expect to see in your garden if you choose this plant.

Penta

close up of pink & deep rose PENTA annuals for the full sun

Because of this bloom’s five-point shape, the Pentas are also known as Egyptian stars. If you want to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees to your garden, this is the pollinator attractant you’ve been looking for. As an annual, the size averages 12” tall and wide. You can find them in white, pink, lavender and red.

Salpiglossis

via Burpee

Typically grown as an ornamental plant, the Salpiglossis resembles the Petunia, but grows in its own variety of colors. Different colors can even appear in the same bloom! This old-fashioned flower reaches 2’ tall and actually looks like the blooms have been hand painted. The common name Painte Tongue is so fitting for this one.

Annual Vinca

flats of pink, red & lavender ANNUAL VINCA annuals for the full sun

You can’t but fall in love with the Annual Vinca. This plant is well-known for surviving the hottest day of summer and still coming out looking gorgeous. Nell lives in the Arizona desert and this is the one which stands in the desert heat. You can find them in white, pink, red, purple and magenta.

Calibrachoa

close up of cherry red CALIBRACHOA annuals for the full sun

The Calibrachoa is a favorite for garden walls, hanging baskets, and accompanying you along a stroll in the sidewalk. This plant is relatively new compared to the other plants too – it’s only been in existence since 1990’s! They bloom non-stop and are well suited to hanging baskets. And talk about a wide range of colors to choose from. White, yellow, apricot, orange, pink, rose, red, grape, and blue – something for everyone.

Nemesia

close up of pale pink/yellow/apricot NEMESIA annuals for the full sun

The Nemesia is a foreign flower that comes from South Africa. While it prefers cooler temperatures, it can still live through temperatures that are well into the 90’s. Like others, this one’s technically a perennial but grown as an annual. Nell used this one quite a bit when she was a professional gardener in the San Francisco Bay Area. These sweet mounding beauties come in white, yellow, pink, red, blue and purple.

Portulaca

close up of yellow & pink PORTULACA annuals for the full sun

Also known as the sun rose, the Portulaca flower is an annual succulent. These have a low growth habit and are often used in hanging baskets, in rock gardens, and as groundcovers. The bloom typically grows into a white, yellow, pink, orange or red flower. They’re fast growing and very little care is required for this one.

Sunflowers

a row of tall yellow sunflowers in a field

Sunflowers are literally like a ray of sunshine. Gone are the days of only the 6’ yellow sunflower as such a wide variety of sizes, forms and flower colors (yellow, orange, red) are available now. Whether you choose one that grows to 12’ or 1’, you can’t miss them in the garden!

Full sun plants are pretty spectacular, and they are easier to care for than you’d think. I hope you enjoyed our list of colorful annuals for the full sun. Choose the ones to your liking that can withstand the dry heat and droughts.


 

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