12 Best Plants for Sunny Borders (Plus Growing Tips)

Plants for Sunny Borders

Defining the boundaries that separate your garden and lawn with plants that reflect your tastes is one of the easiest ways to create the outdoor space of your dreams. With that said, if your garden receives a significant amount of sunlight, you will have to choose plants that can thrive in these sunny conditions.

Not only will your border plants need to be able to withstand direct sunlight, but you will also want to choose smaller plants that will not overwhelm the look of your garden, as they define edges rather than visually dominate the space.

To help you make the right choices, we have listed 12 of the best plants for sunny borders!

The 12 Best Full Sun Border Plants

1. Veronica (Veronica officinalis)


Veronica, also known as speedwell, is a clumping perennial that features eye-catching flowers that tend to bloom in stunning shades of blue, pink, purple, or white. They usually grow to about six inches; however, under ideal conditions, they can grow closer to 12.

Not only do the spiked, upright flowers stand out, which is great for defining garden borders, they also do exceptionally well in full sunlight. They prefer well-drained soil and plenty of water.

2. Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)


This compact, bushy flowering shrub features masses of small, yellow flowers. The plant has a cute appearance that contrasts nicely with most other garden plants. They tend to grow about two feet tall and are easy to trim and shape.

They perform best in full sun and prefer moist soil; however, they are quite stubborn plants that can tolerate some pretty harsh conditions. They work well massed together to form borders and miniature hedges.

3. Mazus (Mazus reptans)


Mazus is a tiny but dense perennial plant. It tends to grow a concentrated collection of foliage that maintains its bright green color throughout the year. During the summer months, the plant becomes dotted with tiny blue and purple flowers.

It is a resilient little plant that does well in full and partial sun. While the roots should not be left soaked, they can tolerate high levels of moisture. Their small stature and rugged nature make them a perfect sunny border plant.

4. Garden Violet (Violet sororia)


This popular border plant produces stunning flowers when it is in bloom, and the deep green leaves look striking throughout the year. They grow to about six inches in height and are extremely versatile plants. While they can tolerate shade, they almost always do well in full sun.

They require moisture-retentive soil, and you should water them frequently. Whether you want to plant them in a garden bed or strictly as a full sun border edging plant, the decision is up to you.

5. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)


Fountain grass grows in beautiful mounds, which is why it is such a favorite for garden borders. The blades spray outwards in all directions, which explains the name. It will usually range in size from one to three feet.

As with most ornamental grasses, fountain grass is incredibly adaptable and will do well in most conditions. Well-draining soil works best, but it will grow in just about any variety. These are sun loving plants that thrive when the temperature is hot.

6. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is a popular herb plant that is well-known for its pinkish-purple color and fragrant aroma. It is easy to care for and does best in full sun, especially in hot and dry conditions. This plant is versatile, so it can work well to define sunny borders throughout your garden. While it requires relatively little maintenance, you should water it more frequently when first planted. Use well-draining soil and space them out, as the plants will fill in and become somewhat crowded as they grow.

7. Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora)


Also known as the moss rose, portulaca is a low-growing, groundcover plant that works incredibly well for sunny borders. Not only do the colorful flowers catch the eye and make a statement, but they will also help to attract butterflies to your garden.

They prefer well-drained soil and thrive in full sunlight. These plants also have a high drought tolerance, so they do not need to watering very often. In terms of maintenance, they do spread quickly, so you may need to cut them back to prevent them from spreading into other areas of your garden.

8. Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum superbum)


The flowers of the shasta daisy are one of those iconic summer images. They are also the perfect, low-maintenance perennial that works great for filling empty spaces and defining full sun borders. They prefer fertile soil, but they also need good drainage, as they are susceptible to root rot. They do best in full sun; however, they will tolerate full shade.

9. Miniature Roses (Rosa chinensis minima)


Miniature roses are just standard roses selectively bred to grow to a smaller size. They are available in a variety of colors. Despite their small stature, these plants are surprisingly robust, and they will grow quite quickly once the roots have taken hold. They work exceptionally well in a border and can add a nice splash of color to the edges of your garden.

Treat them as you would a full-sized rose bush, meaning full sun exposure, rich soil, and plenty of water. Regular fertilizing is also necessary if you want the roses to bloom.

10. Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)


Butterfly bush is a fast-growing, eye-catching shrub that features masses of small blossoms. The flowers grow in many colors, and they work well as a border plant, especially in full sun areas.

They require plenty of sun and fertile, well-drained soil. They also need to be watered regularly and need plenty of space to thrive, so they are a fairly high-maintenance shrub.

11. Petunias (Petunia atkinsiana)


Petunias are one of the most popular garden flowers because of their bright colors and lengthy flowering period. They also enjoy full sun and are very heat tolerant, so they work well as sunny border plants.

They require a thorough watering at least once per week and can do quite well in most soil; however, they do much better if the soil can drain and does not hold water for too long. These flowers also do well in planters and hanging baskets, so you can give your outdoor space a more harmonized look by using them for your sunny borders, as well other areas of your property.

12.  Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp)


The coreopsis is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, blooming plant that works incredibly well for sunny borders. It grows in upright clumps and features beautiful flowers during the summer months. The flowers will bloom in either red, orange, yellow, pink, or white, so there is plenty of variety amongst coreopsis plants.

They require full sun exposure, as well as well-draining, loamy soil. They grow about 1.5 to four feet tall, so be mindful of this when planning your garden. While they do require good drainage, they should be watered regularly, especially during the spring months when they are growing.