20 Show-Stopping Native Flowers for Full Sun

Close-Up Of Yellow Flowering Plants
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A full day of sunlight for growing flowers is many a gardener's dream. However, too much sun can scorch, bleach, wither, and even kill some plants—even in northern climates, but especially in southern ones.

If your yard is low in shade, you can plant sun-sensitive flowers in containers and move them throughout the course of the day—but that can be quite a bit of maintenance. We recommend instead growing flowers that can thrive in a full day's sun.

Below are just 20 of the hundreds of full-sun flowers native to North America that will delight your eyes and support native wildlife.

1
of 20

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

close-up of black eyed susan's
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A familiar sight in many gardens, black-eyed susans are but one of 20 or so species in the Rudbeckia genus, of which the best-known is Rudbeckia hirta. Fast-growing and freely self-sowing, black-eyed susans are one of the easiest perennials to grow, tolerating drought and neglect. Leave their “eyes” over winter for birds to forage for seeds once the petals have dropped.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: evenly moist soil
  • Soil Needs: average to rich soil
2
of 20

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

A field of monarda didyma (Bee balm)

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Bee balm produces 4-foot tall flowers that look like a field of fireworks. In the mint family, it will readily spread by underground rhizomes, so divide the colonies to keep them in check if they are crowding out other species. The long-blooming flowers are popular with hummingbirds, butterflies, as well as, of course, bees.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Water Needs: evenly moist but well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: requires average to rich soil
3
of 20

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia X grandiflora)

Gaillardia Aristata Blanket Flower
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Gaillardia X grandiflora is the most popular of the 30 species in the Gaillardia genus. It's a short-lived perennial, but well worth it, given its daisy-like flowers in dazzling reds, yellows, and oranges. They will spread in clumps and bloom in their first year throughout the length of the summer. They need little care, are drought-tolerant, and are easy to grow from seed.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil, drought-tolerant
  • Soil Needs: prefer rich soil but tolerate poor or sandy soil
4
of 20

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Blazing star (Liatris spicata)

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Also known as gayfeather or just Liatris, blazing stars are native to just about the entirety of North America. Their long-blooming flower spikes are composed of multiple florets that bloom from top to bottom and are popular with butterflies and bees. Great in mass plantings.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining, evenly moist soil
  • Soil Needs: average to rich soil
5
of 20

Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
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It's hard to beat the grace and beauty of blue flag iris blooming in mid-spring. Unlike most irises, blue flag iris is a North American native that can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall. Plant iris rhizomes in clusters along a riverbank, pond, wetland, or rain garden. A related native, Iris virginia, is limited to zones 7 to 11.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: wet to moist soils or shallow water
  • Soil Needs: a wide variety of soils
6
of 20

Canada Windflower (Anemone canadensis)

Canada windflower (Anemone canadensis)

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Canada windflower is an anemone in the buttercup family and produces a delightful display of small white flowers. Anemones spread underground by rhizomes, so allow it to fill out room to grow. Blooming in spring, it is a welcome meal for native bees and butterflies. In climates with hot summers, it prefers some shade.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Water Needs: medium to wet, well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: rich soil, can tolerate clay soil
7
of 20

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

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Unlike the taller garden phlox, creeping phlox keeps a low-profile. It's a show-stopper from mid-spring to early summer, however, when it provides a profuse mat of nearly iridescent pink, white, or blue flowers cascading over a stone wall or spreading through a rock garden. Pollinator-friendly and easily spreading, creeping phlox acts as an excellent ground cover, as its foliage will remain green and vibrant until winter sets in.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: rich, slightly alkaline soil
8
of 20

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

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Garden phlox is a late-season show-stopper in many gardens, and its large flower heads also make good centerpieces in a flower arrangement. Cultivars come in a wide range of colors, including bicolor blooms. Garden phlox form 2-foot to 3-foot clumps that can grow up to 4-feet tall. They may need staking.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: average to rich soil
9
of 20

Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

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Goldenrods bloom in late summer, early fall, providing attractive feather-shaped clusters of tiny yellow flowers. They can last in a vase for up to 10 days, either cut or dried, and also make excellent additions to wreaths. The foliage, however, is inconsequential. Goldenrods can spread but are not invasive.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Water Needs: moist but well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: poor to average soil


10
of 20

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)

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Among the hundreds of sun-loving Salvia species, this one's a hummingbird favorite. Hummingbird sage spreads slowly into a dense mat that makes an excellent groundcover of fragrant semi-evergreen leaves. Its pink flowers open in spring and last into summer, even in partial shade, but full sun will produce fuller blossoms.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil, drought tolerant
  • Soil Needs: average to rich soil
11
of 20

Lupine (Lupinus perennis)

Lupine (Lupinus perennis)

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Not all lupine species are native to the Americas, but L. perennis, native to eastern North America and L. polyphyllus, native to the West, are the most common. Most lupines sold in garden centers are hybrids. Early summer bloomers, lupines don't transplant easily but readily self-sow, so give them room to grow and leave them where they are.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Water Needs: moist, well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: prefers rich soil
12
of 20

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

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Marsh marigolds also go by the name of cowslips. Their clusters of golden yellow, cup-shaped flowers make it easy to tell that they are members of the buttercup family. As their name suggests, they are a moisture-loving plant, appreciating boggy soil or a low spot along a stream or pond. Blooming in early spring, marsh marigolds will feed hungry butterflies, hummingbirds, and other early birds of the season.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Water Needs: constantly moist to boggy soil
  • Soil Needs: rich soil
13
of 20

Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

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Milkweed is a gorgeous flower that is often used in cut flower arrangements. Its lance-shaped leaves and colorful cluster of small flowers stand on their own as a bouquet. It's also well-known as the favorite food source of monarch butterflies.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: poor to average soil
14
of 20

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

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Purple coneflowers are a sight common to prairies and gardens alike. Their daisy-shaped purple (or sometimes white) flowers with distinctive pincushion-shaped centers. Echinacea is also a name familiar to herbalists, as the herb has been long-used by Native Americans for a variety of infections, wounds, and maladies.

Coneflowers attract butterflies and bees for their nectar. Let them overwinter to allow birds to forage for seeds they've missed in the summer. What the birds miss will self-sow.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: any type of soil


15
of 20

Sedum (Sedum spp.)

Sedum (Sedum X "Autumn Joy")

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Also known as stonecrops, sedums come in a wide variety of species, from clump-forming ground covers to perennials with 1- to 2-foot stems. Most are usually commercially available as hybrids, with the most popular being “Autumn Joy” (pictured here). The flowers are usually densely packed, emerging in spring as green buds and opening up to red to orange blossoms.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Water Needs: well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: average to rich soil


16
of 20

Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)

Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)

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The most common sunflower is the annual H. annuus, which can range from foot-tall varieties to towering giants that may need staking. In many regions, perennial species like H. angustifolius and H. maximiliani will bloom in late summer, attracting bees attracted to their pollen, then birds and small mammals harvesting their seeds.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Water Needs: moist but well-draining soil
  • Soil Needs: average soil
17
of 20

Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

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Growing up to 8 feet tall, swamp rose mallow is a North American member of the hibiscus family, with dinner-plate sized flowers that will make a bold display in late summer. It is a vigorous shrubby perennial that can stand on its own without staking. Once past its bloom, its dried seed pods are attractive as well.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Water Needs: consistently moist
  • Soil Needs: average soil
18
of 20

Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.)

Tickseed (Coreopsis)

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Sometimes called tickseed, coreopsis are as low-maintenance as you can get. Drought-tolerant and heat-loving, coreopsis do best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Birds will feed on their seeds, while pollinators are attracted to their long-blooming flowers.

Coreopsis come in a variety of colors, usually yellow or reddish-orange. Dead-head the flowers to stimulate a second bloom, but allow some to go to seed so that they self-sow.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
  • Water Needs: moist but well-draining soil, yet drought-tolerant
  • Soil Needs: rich but not too-rich soil
19
of 20

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

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Many honeysuckles are fast-growing invasive vines from Eurasia that can destroy a forest habitat, but trumpet honeysuckle is a somewhat tamer North American native. It produces an abundance of red-tubular flowers to which hummingbirds are specially adapted. Let it climb a fence or trellis, as it can easily grow 15 feet in a season.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Water Needs: medium, drought-tolerant
  • Soil Needs: can tolerate clay soil
20
of 20

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

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Virgin's bower is a vine that can grow 20 feet in a season. Like many clematis species, virgin's bower prefers its feet in the shade but its head in the sun, so tuck it at the shaded base of a fence post, trellis, or arbor. Goldfinches enjoy lining their nests with its seed plumes.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Water Needs: evenly moist to wet soil
  • Soil Needs: rich soil

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.