15 Flowering Shrubs for Full Sun

Flowering shrubs that can tolerate full sun can add a vibrant touch to your garden. Here are 15 ones you should consider growing.

A yard filled with plenty of bright, intense sunshine isn’t a sentence to only growing euphorbias, succulents, or sun-loving sunflowers. Many flowering shrubs thrive in spots you may think are too intense to grow anything well. In all honesty, a lot of glorious sunshine helps them photosynthesize and produce the resources they need for healthy growth and beautiful blooms. 

The following fifteen shrubs are known to thrive in full sun, giving you gorgeous options for landscaping with flowering ornamentals. 

Things to Consider When Choosing Flowering Shrubs

When choosing shrubs, start by looking at plants suited for the USDA growing zone of your home. Ensuring they are compatible with the climate ensures they can withstand the summertime highs and low winter temperatures. This is one area where buying from local nurseries is helpful—good nurseries will only carry plants known to grow in the local climate.

Other factors to consider:

  • The shrub’s height when fully mature.
  • Your soil’s texture and its drainage.
  • Your soil’s pH level. 
  • How much upkeep specific plants need.
  • If you need plants that are deer or rabbit resistant.

15 Stunning Full-Sun Flowering Shrubs

1. Forsythia

USDA Zones: 4 to 8

Forsythia is a fantastic choice for a sun-loving flowering shrub if you’re looking for early-season blooms. In northern climates, the bright yellow blossoms are some of the earliest plants to bloom in spring, shortly after the snow melts, signifying that warm weather is on its way! These low-maintenance, quick-growing plants grow up to ten feet tall.

The yellow leaves of a Forsythia

2. Black Lace Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’)

USDA Zones: 4 to 7

Black Lace Elderberry gives your garden a touch of drama with its dark tones and lacy, delicate leaves. Growing 6 to 8 feet tall—and similar width—the intense purplish-black foliage is adorned with delicate pink blossoms in early summer. This tough plant adapts to a range of challenging growing conditions adding a unique, stylish addition to your yard.

A blooming purple flower of Black Lace Elderberry

3. Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

USDA Zones: 4 to 8

Mock oranges bring a delicious aroma of orange blossoms to your yard when they open in late spring or early summer. Plants come with either single or double fragrant white flowers, making them a beautiful addition along a walkway or close to the patio where you can enjoy their scent. The mock orange isn’t a true orange, but still a great shrub to plant.

A beautiful mock orange flower under the sunlight

4. Weigela (Weigela spp.)

USDA Zones: 4 to 8

Related to honeysuckle, weigela bears clusters of red, pink, white, and yellow tubular flowers in the spring to draw in hummingbirds and butterflies. Plants tolerate a variety of soil textures, preferring slightly acidic pH levels. Traditional species are old-fashioned favorites, but many new cultivars are available now. Popular types include Wine Weigela, Magical Fantasy, and My Monet.

A beautiful rose colored weigela flowering plant

5. Lilac (Syringa spp.)

USDA Zones: 2 to 7

Another highly favored spring beauty, the fragrant Lilac, comes in many sizes and shapes, from dwarf plants that do well in containers to large varieties that reach 10 or 12 feet tall. Flowers can be purple, pink, or white and are the most prolific when these iconic plants are in spots with more than 8 or 10 hours of sunlight daily.

A close up picture of a blooming lilac under the sun

6. Fairy Magnolia (Michelia x ‘MicJUR01’)

USDA Zones: 7 1o 10

An evergreen shrub in the Magnolia family, Fairy Magnolias have a more compact, bushy growth habit than traditional magnolias, and burgundy buds erupt to create a blanket of stunning, fragrant flowers in spring. These quick-growing show-stoppers are great for windbreaks, privacy screens, and lightly fragrant flowers come in three colors: Cream Fairy, Blush Fairy, and White.

The leaves of a fairy magnolia plant

7. Butterfly Bush (Buddleja spp.)

USDA Zones: 5 to 9

Gardeners with fruit trees or vegetable plants should consider planting a butterfly bush since it is a butterfly magnet. Flower heads form on bushes all summer long until the first fall frost if you regularly deadhead spent blossoms. Plants are low maintenance and rarely need pruning but can be cut back almost to the ground in the fall.  

A beautiful butterfly bush flowering plant during summer.

8. Sunshine Blue Bluebeard (Caryopteris incana)

USDA Zones: 5 to 11

Blooming in late summer or early fall, Sunshine Blue Bluebeard brightens the latter part of the season with dazzling blue flowers adored by butterflies. Bright yellow to golden foliage brings season-long color to the sunniest planting spots. In colder climates, the plants die back to the ground in winter but resprout from the roots in spring.

Beautiful flower details of a Sunshine Blue Bluebeard plant

9. Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

USDA Zones: 4 to 9

An unusually cold-hardy species in the Hibiscus genus, the Hardy Hibiscus or dinner-plate hibiscus blooms in late summer to display flowers up to 10-inches across. Plants stay moderately short, reaching 5 to 7 feet in height, and prefer moist areas of the yard. Cooler springs tend to slow bud growth, but a layer of mulch on the soil helps.

A red hibiscus rose under a nice sunlight

10. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

USDA Zones: 5 to 9

An easy shrub to grow, even for beginners, Rose of Sharon blooms in shades of white, pink, red, lavender, blue, or bicolor with either single or double flowers. The exotic flowers appear in midsummer, beckoning butterflies and hummingbirds. These sun-loving shrubs tolerate drought, air pollution, poor soil, heat, and humidity.

A bush of white hibiscus syriacus under the heat of the sun.

11. Cut-Leaf Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

USDA Zones: 3 to 8

Cut-leaf staghorn sumac is an excellent shrub if you’re looking for fall and winter color. In the fall, plants feature foliage in a blend of orange, gold, and red, and in the winter, plants showcase bright red seed pods and brown fuzzy stems. This shrub forms colonies, which is helpful if you have ample space to fill. 

A red staghorn sumac during autumn season

12. Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)

USDA Zones: 4 to 8

Korean spice viburnum deserves a spot in your flowerbed where you can appreciate the spicy scent of its waxy pink flower clusters in early spring. Bright red berries change to black in the fall, and the foliage deepens to a stunning reddish burgundy. These extremely cold hardy shrubs grow slowly to reach about 6 feet tall and wide. 

A flowering plant called pink korean spice viburnum

13. Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica)

USDA Zones: 3 to 8 

Spirea are easy to grow and tough as nails, thriving in full sun. Look for varieties with gold or bicolor leaves or shades of burgundy-purple. Blooms range from crimson-red to hues of pinkish-yellow or white, appearing in late spring. Plants only grow 2 to 3 feet tall, making them a good choice for foundation plantings or along a fence.

pink flowers of a japanese spirea with green bushes background

14. Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles spp.)

USDA Zones: 4 to 9

Blooming just as the forsythia blooms taper off, the Flowering Quince is another early spring bloomer in sunny climates. Flowers come in brilliant orange or red hues, adding a welcomed pop of color to the landscape following the doldrums of winter. Plants are a member of the rose family, displaying thorny stems and leaves similar to roses.

Rich color orange gradient petals of a flowering quince

15. Summerwine Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

USDA Zones: 3 to 7

Arching branches of the summerwine ninebark bear leaves in shades of copper, burgundy, gold, and near-black (depending on the variety) to create fountains of color in your planting bed. Light pink button-sized flowers appear in late spring, giving these plants color in all seasons. Plants grow about 5 to 8 feet tall and nearly as wide.

A blooming flower of Summerwine Ninebark with a unique dark wine colored leaves.
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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