Fun in the Sun with Annuals

May 06, 2023

If you’re anything like most home gardeners, you love to soak up the sun’s warm rays. Guess what? –Many annual flowers adore the sunshine, too. Sunlight helps flowers produce the carbohydrate energy that they need to bloom, grow, and beautify your yard or home! Annual flowers are divided into groups by the amount of light they require to thrive.

Shade annuals need 1-4 hours of sunlight or filtered light (like that coming through the canopy of a tree). This typically means up to 4 hours of morning sun. Gardeners often use cardinal direction to reference the amount of light a location receives in reference to their home. North-facing areas receive primarily indirect sunlight and shade throughout the day. Areas of east-facing exposure see up to 4 hours of direct morning sun that is softer than the hot afternoon sun.

Sun annuals require at least 4 hours of morning sun, up to all day sun. Locations with southern, eastern, and western exposure are ideal for sun annuals. If well-maintained, sun annuals typically have exceptional flower power and large blooms. We will highlight some of these today and explore some favorite shade annual flowers in another post.

Sun Annuals List

Petunias & Calibrachoa

These two flower cousins are tried and true favorites. For magnificent color in a variety of hues, their mounding-trailing growth habit makes them an excellent and reliable filler for your garden bed. With faithful bloom picking and trimming, these will give you flower power all summer long. For the time-conscious gardener, look for Proven Winners Supertunia and Superbells that are “self-cleaning” (meaning they don’t require dead-heading, i.e. removing old blooms).


Canna are the showstoppers of the annual flower garden, standing from 3-5’ tall. En masse, their warm-toned flowers are stunning as a tall backdrop to a garden bed, or a central feature in a patio planter.


For a firework-like “pop” of reds, pinks, or whites, pentas are a top pick. Very heat tolerant and pollinator-friendly!


With its succulent-like leaves and large bright blossoms, portulaca is known for being one of the most drought tolerant annuals–perfect for the busy gardener. Portulaca is a great choice for

rock beds and areas with rocky or sandy soil. Look for the colorful Colorblast series when you peruse the greenhouse tables.


Lantana can withstand 100+ degree weather and wind. Lantana blooms are self-cleaning, and it grows in a vigorous mounding/ trailing habit, great for filling in a space. It can be found in bright colors, from reds, oranges, and yellows, to purples and whites. Look for the Heartland series at your local garden store.


Another succulent mimicker, mezoo (also known as Dorotheanthus) displays small, pink star-like flowers and an unbeatable heat tolerance. Its trailing growth habit makes it perfect for the edge of a garden bed or in a hanging basket on your porch. Like lantana, mezoo blooms are self-cleaning.

These tough and sun-loving flowers are sure to help you have fun in the sun in your garden this spring!

Written By "Greenhouse Grace" Wilcox, Horticulturist