19 Container Plants For Full Sun

Container plants that can tolerate full sun make great houseplants or ornamental plants. Have you considered growing them?

There is no shortage of great plants that thrive in full sun areas of your yard when it comes to container gardening. If your planters get at least eight hours of sunshine every day, you can opt to grow any of the following ornamental grasses, succulents, or flowering ornamentals. Plant them alone or mix plants to create gorgeous displays of color. 

Benefits of Container Plants that Require Full Sun

Many people love container gardening because they have fewer insect problems, the weeds are minimal and easier to control, and container gardening gives people with limited yard space a chance to garden. But there are also other benefits to growing plants that need at least 8 hours of sun in containers versus in-ground.

  • Tall plants can create privacy screens to create a barrier between your yard and the neighbors.
  • Plants that thrive in full sun can be grown in containers to create shade for a patio or deck. 
  • Plants are easy to move to different spots if they need a break from the heat.
  • You can grow things typically unsuitable for your climate and easily transfer them indoors for the winter.

Considerations When Taking Care of Plants that Require Full Sun

  • Plants grown in containers need water more often than in-ground plants.
  • Plants need fertilizer more often since they deplete nutrients more quickly.
  • Containers can get very warm depending upon the material, so be mindful in hot climates of using metal planters or dark colors that absorb heat so you don’t scorch the roots.
  • Even though they need full sun, plants can still get sun-scorched during the most intense part of the day. They can benefit from being shaded during the hottest part of the day.

Container Plants That Thrive in Full Sun

Lantana (Lantana camara)

USDA Zones: 7 to 11

Lantana plants are adorned with cheerful flower clusters in a rainbow of single colors and multiple hues, blooming nonstop from spring through the fall in the North. In warmer climates, they grow as evergreen shrubs and bloom nearly year-round. These plants are loved by pollinators, and the sandpapery texture and pungent aroma of the foliage keep deer away.

Blooming flower of a yellow orange lantana

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)

USDA Zones: 9 to 11

The maroon grass blades and rosy plumes on purple fountain grass look stunning as a single specimen planting or add an unexpected twist to a mixed container planting. This attractive grass withstands the heat of summer, always looking great. Growing up to 4′ tall, you can use a row of containers to create a living privacy screen for your outdoor living space.

A full grown ornamental purple fountain grass on a garden

Agave (Agave spp.)

USDA Zones: 6 to 11

Agaves are unique as they reach maturity; they flower once and then die. Although for most varieties, it takes many years for maturation and flowering to occur. Choose to plant one of these striking plants in a container to enjoy the spiral of foliage beginning from a nearly invisible central stem. They make a stunning companion to tall, feathery ornamental grasses.

A classical style white planter for agave plant

Echeveria (Echeveria spp.)

USDA Zones: 9 to 11

With their stunning rosette shape in various colors, echeveria are popular succulents since they closely resemble flowerheads. Varieties come in a delicate pastel color palette, and plants range from a couple of inches tall to about 12 inches when fully mature. They occasionally send up long arching stalks with several aster-like blooms when grown in full sun.

succulent plants arranged in a large ceramic terracotta pot

Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa caucasica)

USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Most commonly found in shades of cool violet-blue, pincushion flowers get their name from the cushion-like center surrounded by delicate, fuzzy foliage. Flowers smell of honey and span no more than three inches across. The graceful flowers add an airy touch to bright containers. Plants grow with upright stems to 20″ tall and about 15″ wide.

A beautiful flower of purple scabiosa

Canna Lily (Canna spp.)

USDA Zones: 8 to 11

Growing cannas in containers is a magnificent way to create a showstopping landscape regardless of your winter climate. These beautiful plants boast immense paddle-shaped variegated leaves in hues of green or bronze, and showy blooms sit atop tall reedy stems. Flowers come in pink, red, yellow, and orange shades from late spring to frost. In colder climates, overwinter containers indoors. 

Canna Lily in an outdoor flower garden

Zinnias (Zinnia elegans)

USDA Zones: 3 to 11

Not only are zinnias one of the easiest flowering annuals to grow, but they also attract butterflies to the garden with their wealth of color. Zinnias grow well via direct sowing of seeds and need little care beyond deadheading. These highly self-seeding plants grow as annuals and wow gardeners in almost every color imaginable.

blooming flowers of pink zinnias

SunBelievable Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

USDA Zones: 4 to 9

If you love sunflowers but don’t have the space for mammoth species, you owe it to yourself to give these compact seedless beauties a try. They love the heat and are slightly more drought tolerant than other container plants. Give these annual plants a sunny location, and you’ll be rewarded with continuous blooms from spring until the fall frost.

blooming sunflower plant under the heat of the sun

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)

USDA Zones: 9 to 12

Standing out from other flowering ornamentals, the dynamic kangaroo paw boasts bright red blossoms (reminiscent of a kangaroo claw) atop tall stalks with sword-like foliage. Their unique flowers attract birds and other pollinators to the garden. Its compact size and upright stems make it perfect as an annual container planting in bright, sunny spots.

Beautiful flowers of a red kangaroo paw flowering plant

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

USDA Zones: 3 to 9

An easy-care perennial, the blanket flower loves lots of sunlight and adds a touch of cheeriness to containers. Bright yellow and orange, daisy-like flowers bloom through the heat of summer until the first autumn frost if deadheaded. Blanket flowers are native to the US prairies and parts of Mexico and drought-tolerant, making the blanket flower perfect for containers.

The vibrant flowers of a Gaillardia aristata blanket flower.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

USDA Zones: 8 to 11

Rosemary is known for its culinary uses in the kitchen. Still, with its pine-scented needle-like leaves and flushes of delicate flowers in the spring, it’s also an excellent container plant. Native to rocky coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea, plants are sturdy and robust. In colder climates, bring containers inside to overwinter for year-round enjoyment.

A rosemary planted on a terracota pot

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

USDA Zones: 5 to 9

Even if you don’t have an herb garden, lavender is a lovely plant to grow in containers. Space them around your patio to enjoy lavender’s revered scent and beautiful purplish-blue flowers. These beauties need very little water and naturally help to repel pesky mosquitos and other nuisance insects. English lavender has the strongest scent and is the hardiest of the lavender types.

A beautiful and growing lavender plant on a purple pot

Cordyline (Cordyline fruticosa)

USDA Zones: 9 to 12

The eye-catching evergreen cordyline comes in various colors and variegations, from green, pink, red, orange, and chocolate brown. Cordylines reach upwards as they grow, forming a tiered rosette of foliage. They bloom in early summer producing cup-shaped, sweet-smelling pink, white, or pale lavender-colored flowers. Also called the ti plant, it is thought to bring good luck.

healthy red cordaline plant on a garden

Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa)

USDA Zones: 9 to 11

Also known as globe amaranth, this unique plant provides constant blooms that resemble clover blossoms from early summer until frost. Gomphrena is most glorious in September and October when loaded with hoards of globe-shaped flowers. It is a low-maintenance annual that thrives in blistering heat. There’s a whimsical notion it was planted at the gates of Hades!

Blooming globosa pink flower on a garden with a green leaves background

Verbena (Glandularia × hybrida)

USDA Zones: 2 to 10

Native to North America, verbena thrives in hot conditions, making it popular in home gardens. Verbenas spread nicely as they grow and bloom through the entire spring, summer, and fall, drawing in butterflies with the nectar-rich flowers. Verbena plants come in various colors and look beautiful, winding their way through nearby plants.

Closeup pic of a purple verbena flower

Petunias (Petunia × hybrida)

USDA Zones: 9 to 11

While many think that petunias are over-rated as garden plants, they do hold plenty of merits when you’re looking for full-sun plants. Available in just about any imaginable color and various sizes, the popular petunia makes for stunning displays alone or when grown with other plants. Wave petunias cascade beautifully over the sides of tall pots. 

blooming red petunia flower in the garden

Dahlias (Dahlia pinnata)

USDA Zones: 8 to 11

Gardeners in zones 3 to 7 grow dahlias as annual plants, but they grow as tender perennials in warmer climates. Related to sunflowers, daisies, and mums, dahlias are available in more than one hundred varieties in every flower color and size. Blooms can be small lollipop-style pompons or grow to be the size of dinner plates. Most plants grow on average three to four feet tall.

Beautifully matured pink dahlia

Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)

USDA Zones: 4 to 8

Containers planted with blue oat grass bring a cool blue-gray to your yard, creating a soothing, rustling sound as the breeze blows through the thin spiky blades. Plants grow three feet tall and are tolerant of salt and drought. Blue Oat Grass won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Aware of Garden Merit in 1993 and was selected in 2004 for Great Plant Picks.

Fully grown Blue oats grass in an open garden

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis × acutiflora)

USDA Zones: 6 to 9

One of the most adaptable ornamental grasses, the ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass creates an eye-catching display in containers. Feathery stalks with tall flower plumes emerge in the spring as reddish-brown, turning a rich shade of gold in fall. Five-foot tall bunches stay upright to keep a tidy appearance and survive winters outdoors in containers down to zone 6. 

Feather reed grass growing bushes
Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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