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Top 10 Shrubs for full sun

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There are many shrubs out there that make your garden truly shine. The problem is, if your garden is nothing but bright sunlight, you will need plants that can withstand the brightness. Thankfully there are plenty of plants that offer brilliant flowers and colours all summer, in full sunshine.

Below are the top 10 shrubs for your full sun garden positions

1. Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a truly enlivening shrub. Varieties like the LA Dreaming gives you a wide array of colours in the same plant. In fact, you can enjoy purple, blue, and pink all in the same plant without all the mess of having to change the soil, like you would need to do with other varieties. The length of their flowering cycle means you enjoy flowers late into the summer after other flowers have faded.

With hydrangeas you can choose the lime green arborescens, the oak leaf foliage of the quercifolia, or the giant ball blooms of the macrophylla-or mophead variety. Most hydrangeas are hardy, but they will start to wilt in the heat of the summer. They thrive in full sun or partial shade, and need watering about once per week at times of low rainfall or if growing in containers. If you have a mophead variety, you can change the colour of the blooms by amending the soil to be highly acidic (for blue colours) or highly alkaline (for pink colours), or somewhere in between for a purple mixture. 

2. Cistus

Cistus Purpureus Purple Flower

If you have a hot spot, with ample sun, consider the cistus. These plants thrive in poor or moderately fertile soil, but for best results, they need great drainage to accompany their full sun exposure.

They will do well in alkaline, chalky soil so if that is what’s lining your garden, don’t worry about amending it when you can grow cistus. These plants have drought-tolerant foliage a silver-green colour and the flowers appear like bouts of tissue paper, in pure white or pink shades. They are sure to fill your garden with extra brightness.

One of the more popular varieties is the ladanifer which has white flowers spotted with maroon, with gold anthers. With these, you cannot prune them the same as other plants, but after flowering, you can pinch back the new growth to encourage a bushier shape. 

3. Lavender

Lavender is a very distinct plant, not just because of its floral shape but its scent. These grow best in well-draining soil and full sun. Once they bloom you can cut away snippets for a floral arrangement, or just to lay on your pillow to help add a natural scent to the room. You should prune them after they flower so that they don’t grow too woody. Pruning should be done into the fresh green growth and not the old, wood stems otherwise you will not get new flowers next season. 

One of the hardiest varieties is English lavender, with its slender spikes of flowers atop green stems. Varieties like Grosso are dark purple while Lavandula x intermedia or Hidcote is quite common and reliable. 

4. Abelia

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This is a stunning shrub that gives pale pink flowers in the shape of a trumpet all summer long, with a rich fragrance. Even if you have a garden in a mild area with ample sun but lower temperatures, this will work well as it is hardy down to negative 10 degrees C. This is a semi-evergreen which means even after the summer flowers fade you can enjoy glossy leaves all winter long, with mild weather. The plant should be pruned every 3-4 years because it can grow out of hand, up to 4 metres tall. If you do this, make it in April or May. 

5. Buddleia

Planting Buddleia. plant in full sun or partial shade in any well-drained soil.

The butterfly bush, or buddleia, is aptly named because of its power to bring butterflies to your garden. This shrub is a widely known summer plant that offers beautiful flowers on long stems, each of which cascade downward into a sort of fountain. The cone-like arrangement of small, purple flowers will entice butterflies and your neighbours. Once the flower spikes are spent, you should remove them so that the plant can put its energy into new shoots and subsequently, new flower buds. 

Water the plant regularly, and in the summer you need only water it if you are not getting any rain. This plant should not be overly fertilised or it will encourage leaf production instead of floral production. 

6. Cotoneaster

You can find this in the form of a deciduous or an evergreen tree meaning that its semi-evergreen depending on the location with very simple leaves and clusters of flowers that are white or pink.

This plant is a summer shrub that gets covered in small white flowers. Once they all open, get ready for lots of bees. They have herringbone styled branches that form a sort of wall, and give extra privacy to your space. What’s more, summer isn’t the only time you can enjoy what they offer. In fact, Autumn is when the plant is done with flowers and in their place presents ample red berries which draw in birds. These plants need full sun or partial shade. They are very flexible when it comes to soil type, so long as the soil is well-draining. 

7. Leycesteria

Leycesteria formosa

During the summer, Leycesteria is a great border plant. It will soak up the sun and give you a sturdy frame that offers privacy and protection. It is often called the pheasant berry, with bright green stems that remain all season long even in winter. In the summer you get green leaves and strings of maroon flowers. The flowers here are quite unique because they are actually bracts inside of which are wine coloured berries.

Often referred to as Himalayan honeysuckle, these plants are natural magnets to all manner of wildlife including birds, bees, and butterflies. They draw in many birds, such as the pheasant and blackbird, hence the other nickname. They grow best in moist, well-draining soil with exposure to full sun. You can prune them hard, if they are outgrowing their space. Be advised though, they do reach 2.5 metres tall and wide easily. 

8. Hebe

Hebe Purple Shamrock is also known as the Hebe ‘Neprock,’ which is adaptable to soil conditions. It can survive in full sun, partial sun, or mostly shady places and flowers during the summer.

These shrubs don’t just offer flowers in summer. They can flower almost any month of the year, but they are nonetheless often overlooked by homeowners. As an evergreen, you not only get flowers, but green foliage all year, even beneath the snow. They naturally attract bees and butterflies when their flowers are in bloom. If you have a border garden, these will serve you beautifully, thanks to the rich colours. 

If you cut them while in bloom, they make excellent additions to flower arrangements. If you want flowers well into Autumn, try the Autumn Glory variety. If instead you want variegated leaves that boast green and purple, the Silver Queen is a great option.

9. Deutzia

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This is an emerald green shrub that boasts bright pink flowers which literally smother the plant when in full bloom. What’s more, some of the varieties are scented, adding something extra to your yard. Grow them in full sun or partial shade, and don’t worry about soil pH, as they are very tolerant of a range of soils. They need good drainage and if given these conditions will reach between 0.6 and 1.2 metres tall and wide. They attract bees so prepare yourself for an onslaught of bees during their blooming season. After flowering, be sure to prune them to keep the shrub tidy. 

10. Fuchsia

upright fuchsia ideal as centre pieces in hanging baskets

Finally, there are hardy Fuchsias. These are graceful blooms with a range of flower colours. The blooms flow downward, with layers to their design. Some varieties have panicles of flowers against large green leaves, others have slender flowers against grey pink leaves. They should be watered regularly, especially during the heat of the summer, but be sure not to overwater them or they will rot. There should be good drainage wherever they are planted, and fertiliser administered every two weeks during the growing season. 

With these plants, you can enjoy a stunning array of flowers all summer, no matter the soil conditions in your garden.

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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