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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Landscape

Sun Lovers

When doing it yourself, landscaping and gardening can be frustrating to get right in the absence of a professional—even the plants (considered the ‘easy’ part). How many times have you had plants die from too much or too little water, or from being overexposed to the sun? The truth is, there are different plants for every corner of your yard. Plants for shade, plants for morning sun and afternoon shade, and plants for areas of the yard where no shade is possible. We reserve these spots for the sun lovers.


You don’t have to live in the warmest regions to have plants that thrive in the sun, but here in the Bay Area we get plenty of sunny warmth. In fact, in the summer it sometimes gets too hot! We typically have heat waves that exceed 100 degrees and last for 3 to 5 days a few times a year. So, if you’ve struggled with the heat drying out your plants, then these suggestions should be very helpful. Whether you’re looking to add a pop of color or an eye-catching component to your walkway or fence line, there's a sun-loving plant for every sunny location!  


Finding the right plants for your garden is crucial to achieving the landscape of your liking. When it comes to plants that love the full sun (6+ hours of sun/day), there’s a wide variety of options from which to choose. With so many attractive options for plants that thrive in different levels of sun exposure, there’s something for every designer’s goal. However, with everything from brilliant-colored roses and vibrant coneflowers to lush grasses and fragrant jasmines, lavender and lilacs, this blog is not meant to be comprehensive.


Important tip: start with the proper planting technique. Prepare a hole that is twice as deep as the root ball.


There are many plants that have a sunny disposition, and Jefferson Landscape and Design have several favorite sun-loving garden plants. Here are just a few examples. Keep in mind that while some plants will require you to cut the dead flowers off when they’re done blooming if you want them to achieve their aesthetic potential, most plants are low maintenance provided 1) they get watered regularly with a drip system (yes, even in a drought) and 2) they are strategically planted so they are allowed to mature at their maximum potential. That you need to get a gardener to use a hedge trimmer and cut your plants up into squares and balls is a misnomer.


Butterfly Bush Varieties (Buddleias)

Showy shrubs that are easy to grow, any of the Butterfly Bush features large clusters of pink and purple flowers for months once established in a sunny area.  The possibilities are endless, and no deadheading, special protection, or fussing is required. Plant and watch your garden become a beacon of activity for pollinators.


Hibiscus Varieties  

All Hibiscus love the sun. If you’re dreaming of being on vacation in Hawaii, having hibiscus plants in your landscape is sure to bring familiar purlieus with its striking tropical blooms. Hibiscus requires moist but well-drained soil. In terms of watering, it is hard to over-water hibiscus, so keep the soil nice and moist. Prune your hibiscus plant as soon as the flowers fade to encourage new vibrant flowers to appear.  



While not a personal favorite, many of our clients love it. And Lavender is a surprisingly versatile sun-loving plant. Not only does it look good with its gorgeous purple blooms, for some, its smell is intoxicating. Lavender can be grown in cool or warm climates as long as it gets plenty of sun throughout the day. Lavender is very drought-tolerant and will thrive even in the driest of climates. It has many uses other than looking stunning in your garden; it is also known to be very relaxing and is frequently used to ease cases of anxiety, stress, and poor sleep.  


Sage and Salvia Varieties

The upright stems from sage keep your gorgeous bright purple flowers upright even in the highest of high temperatures and drought conditions once established. Peaking midsummer into fall, sages and salvias love abundant sunlight and is are an excellent addition to a pathway. Perennial salvia is a hardy, reliable performer, and pollinators love it. These come in a variety of colors with five times as many names, but they arrive in pinks, blues, reds, oranges and purples and are typically avoided by deer and rabbits.


Also known as the cigar plant or firecracker plant, this is a favorite of hummingbirds. A cuphea plant is annual in most USDA hardiness zones, but perennial in some. Plant it in well-drained soil with medium moisture. Available in orange and white or purple and pink.



Another hummingbird favorite, this perennial, also called beardtongue, has tubular-shaped flowers in pink, red, or purple tones and pretty foliage with a burgundy tint. Some types self-sow, so you'll have more plants in coming years.


Vinca (Groundcover)

Once established, vinca, also called periwinkle, is very heat- and drought-tolerant. It comes in a multitude of colors, from pink and salmon (hard to find) to white and purple (more common).



Native to tropical environments and a pollinator’s favorite, this flower prefers full sun. Lantana tough and very forgiving and will tolerate both drought and blazing temperatures. It can be purchased as a trailing groundcover or a bush.


Other Favorites:

·         Azaleas (Southern Indica varieties only)

·         Choisya Ternata (Mexican Mock Orange)

·         Syringa Vulgaris (Common Lilac)

·         Camellia Sasanqua

·         Tibouchina Urvilleana (Purple Princess Flower)

·         Podocarpus (Maki, Gracilior or ‘Fern Pine’, ‘Yew Pine’)

·         Tecoma Capensis (Orange Cape Honeysuckle)

·         Ceanothus

·         Leptospermum (Australian Tea Tree)

·         Bambusa or ‘Clumping Bamboo’ (Alphonse Karr, Golden Goddess)

·         Phoenix Roebelenii (Pygmy Date Palm)

·         Viburnum ‘Japonicum’ and Viburnum ‘Tomentosum’ (Summer Snowflake)

·         Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Little Grapette’

·         Hebe varieties

·         Liriope Muscari (Big Blue Lilyturf)

·         Plumbago (Royal Cape)

·         Plumbago ‘Auriculata’  (White)

·         Tagetes Lemmonii (Mexican Marigold)

·         Alyogyne Huegelii ' (Blue Hibiscus)

·         Correa ‘Carmine Bells’

·         Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’

·         Trachelospermum Jasminoides (Star Jasmine)

·         Coleonema (Sunset Gold, White Diosma, “Breath of Heaven”)

·         Cordyline ‘Red Sensation’

·         Flax varieties


To name just a few…


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