Living in the Pacific Northwest, it can sometimes feel like we’ll never see the sun again, especially in the winter. Despite that feeling, you can grow plants that love full sun in our area! These 5 plants thrive and will usually get their best flowering and foliage if planted in full sun locations with well-draining soils. They can also handle a mild drought but need some extra water in extended periods of heat.
Spirea: A deciduous shrub with panicles of flowers that rise above the foliage in summer. Foliage can be deep green (‘Renaissance’) to golden lime green (‘Goldflame’, ‘Magic Carpet’) to bronze (‘Dolchica’) and even blue green (‘Blue Kazoo’) depending on the variety. Flowers range in shades of pinks and purples and whites and fall foliage color ranges from yellow to orange to red. Spirea’s are great in perennial borders or for mass plantings. Some of the smaller varieties even work well in containers. The flowers can be deadheaded to encourage reblooming and can be used in cut flower arrangements. Although they don’t necessarily need it, if you want to do any pruning for shaping or thinning you should do it soon after they’re done flowering.
Rudbeckia: While the flowers may look like a dainty daisy, this perennial is a workhorse in the garden. It can handle mild drought, humidity, hard pruning, and isn’t too picky about the soil as long as it drains well. Rudbeckia, also called Black Eyed Susan, has dark green foliage and is most known for their bright, golden yellow blooms that are great in a cutting garden or perennial beds. While the yellow flowers are gorgeous, there are also quite a few varieties that offer some other exciting flower colors like reds (‘Cherry Brandy’), yellow-red combos (‘Toto Mix’), oranges (‘Summerina Orange Echibeckia), and almost chocolate brown (‘Summerina Brown Echibeckia’). Depending on where you’re wanting to add some color to your garden, there are some Rudbeckias that can grow quite large (‘Goldstrum’) and some that will stay fairly compact (‘Little Goldstar’) so just make sure to look at plant labels when out shopping.
Raphiolepis: A great all season plant, this evergreen is easy to grow and has glossy dark green foliage with most varieties having reddish tinged new growth creating a neat dual-tone effect. The fragrant, white to pink flowers bloom in Spring and are followed by dark blue ornamental berries that attracts birds. Raphiolepis, or Indian Hawthorn, work well as hedges, foundation shrubs, accent plants, and in containers.
Crocosmia: The sword-like foliage is a rich green and is the perfect foil for the bright spikes of flowers that range in shades of reds, oranges, and yellows in summer. The blooms attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators and also work well for cut flowers. They can be planted in sunny border beds or containers and work well in groupings. After the flowers fade, the old stalks can be removed for a tidy appearance and any old foliage should be removed before new growth emerges in spring. Crocosmia can be divided every 3-4 years.
Sedums: These succulents come in all different sizes from spreading groundcovers to compact shrub sized forms. They do well in rock gardens, containers, or sunny border beds. Some varieties, like ‘Autumn Joy’, grow to be about 18-24″ tall and wide and have large clusters of dusty pink blooms while others like ‘Angelina’ form a nice groundcover and has striking bright green foliage with orange fall color. Depending on what look you’re going for, these hard working plants can find a home easily in your garden.
If you’re sprucing up your garden, what sun-loving plants are you going to add? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!