Top Ten Plants for Sunny Borders

By Jessica Mcnamara

Apr 12, 2021

Garden plants in a sunny border

We do love a south-facing garden that gets plenty of sunlight, but it can be a problem for certain plants, causing them to struggle. We do have some fantastic news though, there is a wide range of plants that positively thrive in your sunny garden design. We have picked our favourite sun-loving border plants for a garden flower show below:  



Consider Verbena for your sunny garden borders or garden paths, these will provide long-lasting purple flowers and perform during the hottest days of summer heat. Verbena ensures summer flowers when planted in the sunniest and possibly driest garden border. If humidity is high in your area in summer, choose perennial verbena for a brilliant summer display.   
Verbenas require regular watering, limited application of complete, slow-release fertiliser and the occasional trim for optimum bloom. 


Cosmos have colourful daisy-like flowers that sit atop long slender stems. They bloom throughout the summer months, attracting bees, birds and butterflies to your garden. Cosmos bring an unruly explosion of colour to your garden.   

Cosmos come in pink, red, white, lavender, orange or chocolate petals which are beautifully spaced around a yellow central disk and over lush green foliage.   

They are a perfect choice for children’s gardens and novice gardeners because they are easy and quick to grow.  

These cosmic gems flower best in sunny borders. They need moderate amounts of water and tolerates poor soil conditions. Plant tall varieties at the back of borders or as a central focal point and use smaller varieties as mid-sized plants in mixed beds.   



Lonicera forms masses of delightful tubular white flowers that produce a lovely fragrance when they bloom in spring, often followed by red or black berries and purple-flushed green leaves. Honeysuckle is well known for attracting birds, bees, and other wildlife to your garden due to its nectar/pollen-rich flowers.  

Lonicera prefers fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Growing lonicera on a sunny border will enable the plant to produce its strongest fragrance. For the most beautiful display train it against a sunny wall, ideally near a path or entrance where you will appreciate its heady scent.   



Nicotiana, also known as tobacco plant, will bring a touch of class and make a statement at the back of a lightly shaded or sunny border. Growing nicotiana in your summer borders adds a variety of colour and form. Various sizes of the nicotiana flower can be used at the front or the back of a border and provide a sweetly fragrant experience on calm days.   

Nicotiana grows moderately too quickly and too much fertilization can lead to excessive growth causing them to get leggy and cease flowering on top.   

Plant seeds into a sunny or partially shaded area of the garden with well-drained soil in late spring. Some species may be short-lived providing attractive blooms for the early days of summer while others may bloom until taken by frost.  The nicotiana flower grows in shades of white, pink, purple, and red.   


Stunning bright yellow flowers with dark centres. Generally, less tall and bushier than their giant annual cousins. Although the blooms are smaller, they are more abundant, and flower over a longer period.  

Expect flowers from mid-summer right through till the first frosts. Helianthus late-flowering nature makes it a useful addition for extending the season of colour in the summer border.   

These tough, easy to grow low maintenance plants are perfect for any garden border. Plant in any well-drained garden soil in a sunny spot, during the autumn or mid-spring. Their beautiful blooms attract many beneficial insects, such as butterflies and bees.   



Gerbera Daisy produce lots of brightly coloured flowers over several months. Most Gerberas can flower any time of year and come in a variety of colours including reds, oranges, purples, yellows, white or cream. There are now smaller flowered hardy varieties that are perfect for beds, borders and containers outside.   

Plant hardy gerberas in a sunny, warm, sheltered position. They need fertile, moist but well-drained soil.   



Petunia is one of the most popular summer border plants, flowering throughout summer until the first severe frosts of Autumn. Growing petunias can add long-term colour to the summer landscape and brighten dreary borders with beautiful pastel colours.   

The compact, wild varieties are perfect for planting in beds and borders. There is great variety in petunia flowers: a wide range of colours; both single and double blooms; smooth or ruffled petals; a solid single, striped, veined or picotee-edged colours; and even fragrance.   

Proper petunia care is simple and easy. Keep the soil moist by watering regularly during prolonged dry periods in summer. Don’t overwater, as too much water will cause the plants to become leggy with few flowers.  

Petunia requires as much sunlight as possible to promote multiple blooms. Care of petunias will include regular fertilization with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer designed for blooming plants.   



The wide daisy-like blooms of Gazania provide fantastic summer colour and happily tolerate both full sun and wind. Gazanias, also known as treasure flowers for their jewel-bright blooms love sunshine and if they don’t get enough of it, will close up.   

Gazanias come in shades of rose, red, pink, bronze, gold and orange and sit on top of cool green foliage.   

Gazania loves a hot, sunny position in the garden. Gazania needs moderately fertile soil and well-drained. Deadhead gazania regularly to ensure plentiful blooms.   



Acanthus is a Mediterranean plant that prefers a sunny well-drained position, but they don’t like rich soil so avoid over-feeding or you won’t get flowers. Clump-forming perennial boasting strikingly elegant spikes of hooded, creamy-white flowers adorned with dusky purple bracts.   

Acanthus is an excellent, architectural plant that’s justifiably popular. It thrives best in dappled shade and although it will take full sun, the leaves may scorch. Plant it en-masse under trees or as a specimen plant in a mixed border and give it plenty of room to spread itself out.   

Ensure that the plant is watered well during hot, dry spells. Lift and divide large clumps in autumn or spring.   



One of the most popular perennial plants for sunny borders. It's bright and showy, cup-shaped flowers appear in late spring on wiry, branching stems. They have semi-evergreen foliage and offer flowers usually of yellow, orange and red. Most Geums reach a height of 50cm so are perfect for the front or middle of a border.   

 They are almost evergreen hardy perennials that form clumps, providing excellent ground cover and suppressing weeds. The best perennial border plants around!

Slow growing, reliable and drought tolerant. Although short-lived, they can be divided and replanted every three years to keep them going.   

Remove spent flower stems promptly to extend the bloom period. Full sun is preferred for best flowering, needs regular moisture and average well-drained garden compost. 

There are many reasons for adding ornamental grasses to your sunny borders. Warm-season grasses wait until the weather starts warming up and are ideal for filling in spaces after spring bulbs and early-flowering perennials have died back. Cool-season grasses take over once fall blooming has ceased and many remain evergreen throughout winter. There are a number of other reasons to include ornamental grass in the border or landscape.

Consider planting a fruit tree! Apples, pears, cherries and peaches grow well if trained flat against a warm, protected wall that will foster early ripening.