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Full Sun Plants for a Southern Garden

Every year it seems to be hotter out in the garden. I think maybe we forget how hot it was because of all the daydreaming about gardening we find ourselves doing on those cold, dreary, short winter days. Give these full sun plants a chance in your garden before you give up!

Are We There Yet?

You may be at a point where you wonder whether or not your plants are going to make it through this unrelenting heat. As you know, gardening is a daily experiment to see how to make your plants thrive in the environment of your backyard.

I am constantly experimenting with different plants in my yard. My latest endeavor is finding more of the best full sun plants that will do well in the southern humid oven that I call home.

I have lost more than a few plants over the years but always looking back, I could say that I didn’t show them the best of care.

The majority of my yard is full sun. I finally have a couple of trees that provide shade from the brutal heat that starts about noon and lasts well into the early evening. Making it through the time when its not shaded can be a bit tricky sometimes.

Get to Know Your Plants Before You Buy Them

Many times, we go to the nursery and pick a plant that we know nothing about its living requirements, totally based on how awesome it looks. I know I am beyond guilty of this offense.

I have found out that many times over the years, I get a great looking plant home only to lose it because it just isn’t the right plant for my area. Be it soil type, light requirement, or any of the many things that go into keeping a plant healthy, you can’t always have everything a plant needs to be successful.

Adjusting to the heat, water requirements, and fertilizers as well as light requirements can be a full time job in some areas. A great way to avoid this hassle is to pick plants suitable for your particular zone most of all.

Do Some Research

Doing a little research about a plant can save you money, time, and aggravation in the long run. Many times I will buy a plant anyway and manage to make it survive. Most people don’t want to take or do not have the time to dedicate to nurturing a plant that takes any type of extra care.

It can be tough to find true full sun plants. So after a few seasons of experimentation, I want to share with you several more plants that do well in the extremely hot and humid climate of Southern Alabama.


The first plant I want to mention is one I have had in my yard for several years now. It has survived a short dip into the 20’s although it is dubbed a zone 10 to 11.

In southern Alabama it will begin blooming in late Spring and continue to bloom up through the first few frosts. I did not cut this one back although it lost all of its leaves around February. Maybe I was lucky it survived the cold snaps, but it has come back more beautiful than ever this year!

Size: Can grow up to 6’ tall and 4’ around. Mine is about 3 years old as is roughly 3’ by 3’.

Butterfly Bush

These beautiful bushes love full sun! Although many species of Buddleia can be tall and gangly, there are a few nice compact bushy varieties. There are a few dwarf varieties that can be utilized in a small area.

There is no need to dead head, but it won’t hurt them. I have also noticed it doesn’t promote more blooming if you do, so it is totally up to you. Mine did not start blooming until late Spring. It goes through waves of blooming. It will be full of blooms, then they all die off, then it will flush again in a week or so.

Mexican Petunia

This beautiful specimen looks great all alone or in a bed full of them. Considered invasive in Florida because of its hardiness, know that this plant will do well in most any situation.

Mine is planted singly, in sun from sun up to sun down full sun location. Just a note : although considered a tough plant, I noticed my flowers were falling off before they bloomed until I gave it a sprinkling of slow release fertilizer. Maybe the spot was a little too tough after all.


These beautiful mini- bouquets of flowers come in several different colors to meet your taste. I have seen red, purple, yellow, and white. There are also multicolored ones with a bit of orange or red mixed in.

My Granny always considered these a weed to be pulled up back when I was a kid and they would grow wild out on our farm. My Dad hated the smell of them. So naturally, nostalgia has me planting these in my yard to remind me of my family that have passed away.

They do great in dry, full sun locations. Many different soil conditions as long its not soggy wet. I have even seen a plant come back to life in full shade, though with lots fewer blooms, after being thrown in the woods, left for dead.


The new kid on the block around these parts! This gorgeous perennial loves the heat, and loves full sun. It is one of the few flowers you’ll find with a real blue color to it.

They are great as ground cover and will flower all through the hot season with little care at all. They also like it dry, so you don’t have to water them every day. You can read about some other great ground covers here.

The flowers come out best in the early morning as this is a dwarf species of morning glory.

Princess Flower

This is a dwarf version of the fuzzy tibouchina plant that grows about 8 ft tall. The dwarf version gets about 3 to 4 feet tall. It will remain covered in beautiful purple unusual blooms from late summer, and well into early winter in the South.

I have lost a couple over the years from hard freezes in zone 8,but as the winter’s have gotten milder, these gems will die back to the ground and regrow throughout the season, ready to flower again in the Fall.

Give These Plants a Try

These are some of the newer additions to my garden that can take this southern heat. These full sun plants are great performers in the tough conditions of a midsummer garden. I hope my trials and pictures here can help you pick out the next beautiful addition to those tough to fill full sun locations in your garden!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Rosson

    these are great suggestions thanks! know from experience mexican petunias and lantana kill it every time!

    1. ErickDStyron

      thank you for checking out my website!

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