15 Full Sun Annual Flowers

A sunny garden filled with flowers is what most gardeners dream of, but not all flowers can tolerate harsh sunlight.

Many flowers will wither and die when they’re exposed to all day sunshine, especially during the heat of summer, but there are some annuals that thrive in full sun.

Here are 15 beautiful sun loving annuals to plant in your flower garden.

Most of these flowers can also be planted in pots, containers or hanging baskets for a spectacular display.

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million bells flowers

1. Sunflower (Helianthus)

When I think of sun loving annuals, the first flower that comes to mind is sunflowers.

They’re fast growing flowers and they’ll begin to flower in about 10 weeks.

Sunflowers thrive in a position with full sun and bloom during the summer months.

Why not try planting red sunflowers or these cute little dwarf sunflowers that are perfect for containers.

full sun annual

2. Marigold (Tagetes)

Marigolds are popular annuals that love full sun.

They have beautiful bright yellow and orange flowers and bloom during spring and summer.

Marigold seeds can be planted directly in the garden when the risk of frost has passed, or you can start them indoors to get a headstart.

African marigolds have big round flower heads, while sparky mix is great for providing color.

Marigold flowers

3. Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora)

Portulaca is a type of succulent that is ideal for hot sunny gardens.

The fleshy foliage is able to store moisture so you don’t have to water them too often.

Portulaca spreads out easily, so it’s ideal as a ground cover.

The flowers can be pink, yellow, red, orange, white or cream and the plants reseed easily so they’ll come back each year.

Portulaca flowers

4. Petunia (Petunia × atkinsiana)

Petunias are easy to grow annual flowers that love full sun and bloom throughout summer.

They look great in garden beds, and you can plant trailing petunias in containers and hanging baskets.

Early spring is the best time to plant petunia seeds and you’ll have beautiful blooms throughout the summer months.

Bright colored flowers

5. Celosia (Celosia Cristata)

Celosia, also called Cockscomb, are beautiful showy annuals that grow best in rich soil.

They have beautiful colorful flowers that come in a range of colors including yellow, orange, red, pink and purple.

Celosias are great for flower arrangements and the flowers can also be dried.

annual flower in sun

6. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Zinnias are stunning annual flowers that need full sun to produce their beautiful flowers.

The best time to plant zinnia seeds is in spring when the weather has warmed up.

Zinnias don’t do well when they’re transplanted, so it’s best to sow the seeds directly in the garden.


7. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Cosmos are fast growing, drought tolerant annual flowers.

They grow best in full sun but they can be easily damaged by strong winds.

Cosmos flowers can be pink, red, yellow, orange, white or purple.

Cosmos flower

8. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Majus)

Snapdragons are spectacular annual flowers that can grow 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm) tall.

They grow best in cool climates and have a long blooming period.

Snapdragons love plenty of sun but they will also tolerate partial shade.

9. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

California poppies are classified as perennials but they re-seed easily and grow fast, so they’re commonly grown as annuals.

They prefer well-draining soil that is slightly sandy and they love full sun. [2]

California poppies bloom from early summer until fall and the flowers can be orange, cream, yellow, pink or red. 

Orange perennial flowers

10. Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana is another flower that can be grown as an annual or perennial.

It has clusters of small flowers that can be yellow, pink, orange, white or red.

They look great in containers and you can grow trailing varieties of lantana in hanging baskets.

lantana flowers

11. Vervain (Verbena officinalis)

Vervain is a frost tolerant plant with spiky purple flowers.

It blooms from summer until early fall and can grow 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 metres) tall.

Vervain is easy to grow from seed and flowers best in a sunny position.


12. Million Bells (Calibrachoa)

Million Bells are low maintenance annual flowers that will grow in full sun or partial shade.

They’re similar in appearance to petunias, but the flowers are a bit smaller.

Million bells are ideal for containers and hanging baskets and they bloom from spring until the frost arrives.

million bells flowers

13. Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Poppies are beautiful bright flowers that grow best in full sun.

They come in a variety of colors including red, yellow, orange and pink.

Poppy seeds are best sown directly into the garden as they don’t like to be transplanted.

poppy flower

14. Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum)

Lisianthus grows well in full sun but if you live in an area with hot summer temperatures they’ll need some afternoon shade.

The beautiful flowers can be blue, lilac, pink or white and they come in single and double forms.

Lisianthus can be grown from seed but the plants take a long time to mature, so it’s a lot easier to purchase seedlings from the nursery and plant them in your garden.

lisianthus flower

15. Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)

The last sun loving annual on this list is Pentas, also known as Egyptian Stars.

The beautiful star shaped flowers are great for attracting bees to the garden.

Pentas is commonly grown as an annual in cool climates but if you live in a warm climate you can grow it as a perennial.

pentas flowers

So there are 15 beautiful annual flowers that can withstand the hot sun during summer.

These flowers are perfect for brightening up a sunny garden and they’re great for containers.


Which of these full sun annual flowers do you like best? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Flower Gardening and Gardening Tips that you may enjoy. You can also find me on Facebook.

Don’t forget to pin this post so you can come back to it when you’re ready to start planting.

sun loving annual flowers

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Scott DeNicola

    Marigolds are my go-to spring and summer flower. They are so resilient and I find that deer and rabbits don’t like eating them. They do tend to get pretty big though. I usually stagger marigolds and snapdragons in the landscape and then use Zinnias in pots on my pool deck. I can’t wait for the chance to start planting if we’re ever allowed outside again.

    1. Kelly Martin

      That sounds like a beautiful combination of annual flowers Scott!

  2. Carol

    I don’t have much of a green thumb. Gardening is one of my goals this year. I’m going to start with marigolds for my chickens!

    1. Kelly Martin

      Marigolds are a great annual to start with Carol. I hope your chickens like them!

      1. Charlene

        Love marigolds but so did the squirrels. If you have them at your house, watch the marigolds. I live in the northeast. Good luck!

  3. Oh, this post makes me wish I could go outside and create a garden! My husband and I went for a walk last week, and it was so nice to see flowers and trees blooming. I’ve grown verbena before and it was super easy to keep alive, even for me.

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