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The 10 Best Sun Perennials

Apr 4

The top ten sun perennials are chosen based on four criteria. The plants that were chosen were:

  • When cultivated in a sunny location, they produce well.
  • Are hardy to at least zone 5 and have attractive color
  • From one end of the growing season to the other, are in bloom (collectively)

It's important to note that the perennials on this list aren't drought-tolerant. Some of the plants listed below will thrive in dry circumstances, but not all. It's a different issue for a perennial to tolerate dry soil than it is for it to perform well in the sun with enough water. Beginners frequently mix up these two traits.


Salvia perennialis

Salvia comes in a variety of forms. Some are perennials, but others, like the common red salvia, are annuals. 'Caradonna' is the perennial variety in the photo. It features black blooms similar to 'May Night,' but the spikes are thinner and more delicate in appearance. Both are different in color from 'Blue Hill,' which has lighter blooms that are more blue in hue, as the name suggests.


Daisy from Montauk

Late-season flower color comes from Montauk daisies. You can maintain the leaves compact and postpone blooming until the fall by pruning them back in the summer. If white flowers aren't your thing but you enjoy daisy-style blooming, Black-eyed Susans are another perennial for the sun.


Delphiniums are a standout among the plants on this list. They stand out not just because of their vibrant colors, but also because of their height. The cultivar in the photo is 'Summer Skies,' but you may also plant 'Black' Knight, which is a darker variety. Hollyhocks (though they are only short-lived perennials at best) and Italian bugloss are two more tall sun perennials that are well-suited for display along a fence line or in the rear row of a tiered flower bed (another short-lived plant).


Bachelor Buttons are a perennial favorite

Centaurea montana is a form of bachelor button that grows year after year. 'Amethyst Dream' is one of the cultivars. These plants are not to be confused with Centaurea cyanus, which is a kind of annual bachelor button. The delicate structure of Centaurea montana's blooms is one of its distinguishing characteristics (their color would be a close second; this perennial for the sun also comes in blue). When you combine them with a bloom with a rougher texture, like the Stella de Oro daylily, you get a stunning contrast.



Although the typical purple coneflower is the most well-known, various hues are available. Take care, though, because mosquitoes love to eat the petals. However, goldfinches prefer the seeds, therefore many people consider this a worthwhile trade-off.


Stella Daylily

The Stella de Oro daylily blooms for a long time and needs very little maintenance. Simply put, this sun-loving perennial is a worker. Of course, if you're not a fan of workhorses, you could find this daylily's popularity to be a deterrent (some find it "overused"). However, if you don't mind growing the same plant as someone down the street, allow this workhorse full reign and it will keep plowing—with little oversight from you.


Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia is known by a variety of names, including red hot poker. Because not all kinds of this plant are red, it has several names. 'Redhot Popsicle,' a red cultivar from the Popsicle family, is one example. With their oddly-shaped flower spikes, these South African natives, which are hardy to zone 5, add a unique aspect to the garden.



When it comes to old-fashioned favorites, the bearded iris is frequently mentioned. They are highly fragrant blooms, which is part of why they have been so popular for so long (well, at least some kinds). It's no surprise that they've been revered for decades because they're such aesthetically stunning blooms. One of the most attractive cultivars is 'Batik,' which has bicolored blooms.

Sedum Chocolate Drop

While not all of the sun perennials on this list can withstand dryness, 'Chocolate Drop' sedum can. That's hardly unexpected, given that this plant is a succulent. Many species of this genus prefer a sunny location with dry soil. The prickly pear cactus is another example.


In contrast to succulents, this plant need wet soil in order to flourish. One of spring's beauties is a patch of creeping phlox cascading down a hill and/or spilling over a stone wall (the season in which this ground cover blooms). Joe-Pye weed flowers closer to the end of the growth season than other weeds. Allow the hummingbird magnet, bee balm, to beautify a sunny location in your landscape in the interim.