Full sun plants: the best plants for sunny gardens & balconies


I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real country kid. At home, I love tending my small vegetable garden and spending time out in nature. When not outdoors, I love to write. Beyond gardening and writing, however, I am particularly passionate about wildlife.

Favourite fruit: currants and raspberries
Favourite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes

Some like it hot. Whether on a south-facing balcony or in a garden bed without shade – these ten plants feel right at home in full, direct sunlight.

yellow creeping zinnias
Some plants truly love the sun [Photo: mahey/ Shutterstock.com]

Sunshine is essential for plants. Even so, there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Many plants get sunburnt, wilt or even die if they get too much sunlight. But what would summer be without sunshine and flowers?

Fortunately, there are many sun worshippers in the plant kingdom who cannot get enough light and warmth. The following ten plants love direct sunlight and thrive grown when on a balcony, terrace or in the garden

Tip: A lot of sun and heat equals a lot of evaporation. So, these plants need a soil that stores water well. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Flower Compost is a great choice.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

1. Sneezeweed

Sneezeweed (Helenium), also known as Helen’s flower, really only wants one thing – lots of sunlight. You will not be disappointed if you give this plant a home in your garden. Its countless blossoms, which range in colour from yellow to red, are a match for the heat of the sun, and it attracts beneficial insects such as bees. Not only that, but sneezeweed can withstand cold temperatures. In fact, the plant is frost-hardy down to -20°C, making it ideal for gardens that experience colder winters.

orange sneezeweeds flowers
The sneezeweed can withstand even the hottest days in full sun [Photo: Aul Zitzke/ Shutterstock.com]

2. Petunia

A classic among balcony plants is the petunia (Petunia). It enchants every garden with its beautiful flowers, which bloom continuously from May to October. With an abundance of varieties and colour variations, there is something for everyone. Petunias are popular among gardeners because they are easy to grow and need very little care when grown in a suitable location. A true sun lover, it prefers spots with lots of sunlight, but also some shelter from the rain. Learn everything there is to know about caring for petunias.

Petrunia flowers in the sun
Petunias love sunny spots and are beloved on balconies

3. Creeping zinnia

The creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) always looks good whether in a bed, container or on the balcony. It loves to be in full sun and truly shines in its glory. With its abundant bright yellow flowers, creeping zinnia is a visual treat that delights many. To top it all off, creeping zinnia is also robust and easy to care for, making it perfect for beginners.

yellow creeping zinnia
With its numerous, bright yellow flowers, creeping zinnia is a feast for the eyes [Photo: LianeM/ Shutterstock.com]

4. Citrus trees

Citrus trees (Citrus), such as oranges (Citrus x sinensis), lemons (Citrus x limon) and limes (Citrus x aurantiifolia), were once only available to the aristocracy and the rich. After all their upkeep was time-consuming and costly. Today, however, the exotic fruits are found in more and more hobby gardens. These trees, when grown in pots, will instantly transform any terrace or balcony into an exotic paradise. The most important thing to bear in mind when caring for all types of citrus trees is the location. Especially in summer, these trees require sunny locations and enjoy basking in the sunlight from morning to night. If you live in a region with cold winters, however, it is best to keep your citrus trees indoors during winter because they generally do not tolerate icy temperatures.

lemons growing on a tree
Citrus trees thrive in warm, sunny weather due to their Mediterranean origin [Photo: blue caterpillar/ Shutterstock.com]

5. Geranium

The geranium (Pelargonium) is, and always will be, the reigning monarch of balcony plants. With a large selection of varieties, there are options for every taste. Geraniums come in both upright and hanging varieties with flowers in a large range of colours from pure white to bright pink. Geraniums are native to South Africa and can withstand heat and drought if properly cared for, so it is no wonder that they love a spot in full sun.

vibrant purple geranium flowers
The geranium is ideal for south facing balconies [Photo: Julian Popov/ Shutterstock.com]

6. Peppers and chillies

Peppers and chillies (Capsicum) thrive in direct sunlight as well. They have similar locations and care requirements because they both belong to the same plant genus. Therefore, both plants are typically planted along south-facing walls where they can take advantage of full sunlight for the better part of the day. Furthermore, with over 3000 chilli varieties, they are not just for the tough. There is something for everyone’s taste, from mild to fiery.

pepper plant with red bell peppers
Peppers love the blazing sun [Photo: By Suriyun/ Shutterstock.com]

7. Gladioli

When the majestic gladioli (Gladiolus) begin to bloom in July, they quickly capture everyone’s attention. The gladiolus grows up to one and a half metres high and shows off its splendour of beautiful blossoms on both sides of its stem. On top of that, gladioli come in every colour imaginable, and they quickly form a colourful sea of flowers. As a summer flower, the gladiolus loves full sun and thrives in a sunny spot in the garden. However, the plant should be kept indoors over winter, as it is particularly sensitive to frost. Also, the gladiolus has a high potassium requirement – our Plantura Flower Food can help.

Flower Food, 1.5kg
Flower Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for flowering plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • For healthier plants with beautiful & long-lasting blossoms
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly
pink and white gladiolus blooms
Gorgeous in the summer, gladioli are only outshined by the sun itself [Photo: Muellek Josef/ Shutterstock.com]

8. Lantana

Are you tired of looking at the same old potted plants? Then lantana (Lantana camara) might be just the thing for you. Lantanas are very unique because their flowers change colour as they mature. They can, for example, be delicate yellow when they first bloom and become a crimson red in autumn. Lantanas thrive best when planted in sunny locations – preferably in full sun.

yellow, red and pink lantana flowers
Lantana’s colourful blossoms love to get plenty of sunshine [Photo: Darkfoxelixir/ Shutterstock.com]

9. Globe thistle

The globe thistle (Echinops ritro) is definitely not a wallflower: It is remarkable in the garden, with its extravagant globe flowers that almost seem to float above the ground and is no less than the classic garden flowers. Furthermore, not only humans are captivated by the globe thistle’s unique beauty; bees and other beneficial insects also enjoy flying and foraging among the enchanting flowers. Luckily, despite its extravagant appearance, the globe thistle requires little care. Give it a spot with plenty of sunlight, and the plant will be very happy.

dark purple globe thistle blooms
The globe thistle is anything but ordinary; it is quite extravagant [Photo: John Williams RUS/ Shutterstock.com]

10. Lavender

Bright sunshine and lavender fields as far as the eye can see – lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is for many the epitome of a summer in Provence, France. Lavender loves bright sunshine and can therefore be planted in the blazing sun without a second thought. It is a favourite among hobby gardeners, not only for its beautiful violet flowers, but also for its intense fragrance and medicinal plant properties. Possibly best of all, lavender is an anti-mosquito plant.

vibrant flowering lavender
Even in extreme heat, lavender blooms continuously throughout the summer [Photo: Fesus Robert/ Shutterstock.com]

If your garden is mostly cool and shady, rather than full of sunshine, take a look at this article on plants for shady spots.

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