17 Full Sun Plants to Grow in May

Looking for some full-sun plants to add to your garden this May? There are plenty of options, depending on your location. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares her favorite plants that will thrive in full sun when planted in May!

full sun plants may


May is here, the sun is shining (most of the time), and the gardening bug has bitten us all. This is the time to transplant and divide your perennials. This can often leave new gaps or holes in your gardens that you will want to fill with new beautiful plants.

Heading to the garden center without a list or plan can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to have notes of what you are looking for and what the conditions are for your garden. Most garden centers are staffed with extremely helpful and knowledgeable people who can help you select the perfect plant.

Here is a list of 17 plants for your full-sun gardens that will bloom in May and throughout the summer season.


Top view, close-up of a flowering plant Iberis sempervirens in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, distinctly cruciform with four petals arranged cruciformly in dense, rounded inflorescences. The leaves are evergreen, small, lanceolate, dark green, smooth.
Candytuft, a beautiful creeping perennial, adds charm to borders with its abundant clusters of white flowers.

Botanical Name: Iberis sempervirens

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Size: 6 inches to 1 foot tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Candytuft is a creeping woody perennial that is a gorgeous addition to the front of any border. This plant produces a ton of pretty clusters of flowers. Candytuft is most well known for its white flowers, but there are also purple and pink varieties on the market.

This perennial is tolerant of rocky soil and would be really pretty in a rock garden as well as a sunny border. When the flowers have passed, give your candytuft a haircut to prevent the stems from becoming too woody.


Close-up of blooming Echinacea in a sunny garden against a blurred background. The plant has thin vertical stems and large daisy-like flowers. The flowers have central prominent copper-colored cones and long, thin, pink-purple petals. The leaves are lanceolate, narrow, pale green in color, with smooth edges.
Coneflower, a resilient and stunning plant, offers a range of vibrant daisy-like flowers with a distinct center cone.

Botanical Name: Echinacea spp.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Size: 2-4 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-9

If you are looking for a tough and beautiful plant, coneflower may be what you have been searching for. This tried and true perennial comes in a variety of brightly colored flowers. The flowers are daisy-like and have a deep-colored center cone.

Coneflowers grow in an attractive clump of lance-shaped foliage with tall flower stems that can reach up to 4 feet tall, depending on the variety you select.

Coneflowers self-seed pretty prolifically, so be sure to deadhead once your blossoms begin to fade. Deadheading will also encourage more blooms throughout the rest of the season. Once this perennial is established in your garden, it will be drought and heat tolerant.

Creeping Phlox

Close-up of a flowering groundcover Phlox stolonifera in a garden. The plant blooms profusely with small delicate five-petalled flowers of a pale purple hue. The leaves are small, thin, needle-like, dark green in color.
Creeping phlox is an ideal ground cover, features semi-evergreen foliage, and produces pink, purple, or white flowers.

Botanical Name: Phlox stolonifera

  • Plant Type: Perennials
  • Plant Size: 3-8 inches tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9

Creeping phlox is the perfect spring-blooming ground cover. The moss-like foliage is semi-evergreen and keeps the plant attractive even when it is not in bloom. The flowers arrive in early to mid-spring and can be shades of pink, purple, or white.

Once your phlox has stopped blooming, shear the spent flowers off if you wish to encourage a second bloom. Plant creeping phlox in your rock gardens or in your flower beds as a ground cover.

Hardy Geranium

Close-up of a flowering Geranium plant against a blurred green background. The flowers are small, five-petalled, bright purple with dark purple veins and a central thin protruding stamen. The leaves are green, lobed.
Hardy geranium is an easy-to-grow perennial with green, deeply cut leaves and purple or pink flowers.

Botanical Name: Geranium spp.

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-10

Hardy geranium is a magnificent perennial that is easy to grow. The leaves are bright green and deeply cut, similar to zonal geranium leaves but smaller. The flowers are typically purple but can be found in pink as well. Grow hardy geraniums in your perennial beds, as a border plant, or even in containers and hanging baskets.

This perennial grows best in full sun but does require moist and well-draining soil. Give your geranium a haircut after it is done flowering to encourage a second bloom.

Hens and Chicks

Close-up of a Sempervivum Hens and Chicks plant in a garden among stones. Hens and Chicks is an adorable and hardy succulent. The plant forms beautiful rosettes of elongated, oval, pointed-tipped fleshy bright green leaves with dark purple tips.
Sempervivum forms offset plants around the main rosette and thrives in hot, dry spots.

Botanical Name: Sempervivum spp.

  • Plant Type: Succulent
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches tall, 6 inches to 2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-11

This succulents name is right on point. Growing from the main rosette or the hen, sempervivum will form a mat of offsets of chicks. Many varieties of hens and chicks come in an array of colors. If you have a hot and dry spot in your garden, this is the perfect plant for you.

Regarding maintenance, hens and chicks could not be easier to care for. You should have great success if it has sandy and dry soil. This succulent will produce flowers in the summertime, and you may notice the rosettes dying after flowering. Do not worry! The baby chicks should fill in the gaps.


Close-up of blooming irises in a sunny garden, among dark green foliage. The flowers have a unique structure with three upright purple petals known as standards and three drooping white petals called waterfalls. The leaves are thin, long, smooth, with pointed tips, dark green.
Irises are beautiful and easy-to-care-for plants with long, grass-like foliage and large, colorful flowers.

Botanical Name: Iris spp.

  • Plant Type: Perennial, Bulb
  • Plant Size: 1-8 feet tall, 1-2 feet tall. Size varies greatly between species
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-10

The iris genus is large, and many species are available for home gardeners. No matter which species is right for you, you will be rewarded with beautiful and easy-to-care-for plants. The foliage on the iris’ is long and resembles tough grass blades. The flowers are colorful and large, with about six large petals.

The iris is easy to care for and loves well-draining soil that can be kept moist. Plant irises in border gardens, mixed perennial gardens, and even containers.

Lesser Periwinkle

Close-up of a flowering Vinca minor plant against a blurred green background. Periwinkle flowers (Vinca minor) are delicate and charming. They have small, five-petalled flowers that are blue or purple, although white varieties are also found. The flowers are flat and collected in inflorescences at the tips of the stems. The leaves are small, lanceolate, dark green in color with smooth edges.
This evergreen groundcover vine blooms with purple or white flowers.

Botanical Name: Vinca minor

  • Plant Type: Perennial, Vine
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-9

This evergreen groundcover vine will be covered in purple or white flowers when May rolls around. This perennial will slowly creep and fill any area that you want to be covered and is in the full sun. The leaves are small and remain glossy green all year long.

Lesser periwinkle is a plant it and forget it type of plant. Once these plants are established in your garden, they require nothing from you. They are heat and drought-tolerant and do not require any deadheading or trimming. Plant lesser periwinkle on a slope, in a rock garden, or anywhere you need ground cover.


Close-up of blooming marigolds in a sunny garden. Marigold flowers are bright, including shades of yellow, orange and red. Marigold flowers are distinctly shaped with multiple layers of petals, giving them a full and dense appearance. The petals of marigold flowers are textured and fringed, and are double with a prominent central disc surrounded by divergent petals.
Marigolds are popular annuals in various colors that thrive in full sun and tolerate drought once established.

Botanical Name: Tagetes spp.

  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Plant Size: 1-4 feet tall, 1 foot wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 2-11 as an annual

Marigolds are popular annuals that are available in shades of yellow, orange, red, and white. There are a few different varieties. The size of the plant, as well as the size and type of flower, vary between varieties.

African, French, and Mexican marigolds are the most popular species. All marigolds have the same aroma. Some people love it, while some people don’t. These annuals love full sun and are drought-tolerant once they are established in your garden.

Plant marigolds in your flower beds or in containers. I love to plant marigolds around my vegetable and herb gardens to help keep critters away. Deadhead spent flowers to prevent these plants from going to seed and to promote more blooms.


Krupnyy plan tsvetushchikh Tropaeolum majus v solnechnom sadu. Rasteniye obladayet yarko-oranzhevo-krasnymi trubchatymi tsvetkami i krupnymi okruglymi list'yami zelenogo tsveta s belymi prozhilkami i slegka volnistymi krayami. Tsvety nasturtsii imeyut unikal'nuyu formu, s pyat'yu lepestkami, chasto okruglymi ili slegka udlinennymi. Lepestki slegka vz"yeroshennyye. Tsvety Tropaeolum majus, shiroko izvestnogo kak nasturtsiya, yarkiye i privlekatel'nyye. Eti tsvety byvayut raznykh tsvetov, vklyuchaya ottenki zheltogo, oranzhevogo, krasnogo, a inogda dazhe dvukhtsvetnyye kombinatsii. Tsvety nasturtsii imeyut unikal'nuyu formu, s pyat'yu lepestkami, chasto okruglymi ili slegka udlinennymi. Lepestki mogut byt' gladkimi ili slegka vz"yeroshennymi, i obychno oni derzhatsya nad listvoy na dlinnykh steblyakh. Tsvetki imeyut otchetlivuyu shporu szadi, chto dobavlyayet im vizual'noy privlekatel'nosti.
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Close-up of blooming Tropaeolum majus in a sunny garden. The plant has bright orange-red tubular flowers and large rounded green leaves with white veins and slightly wavy edges. Nasturtium flowers are uniquely shaped, with five petals that are often rounded or slightly elongated. The petals are slightly ruffled.
Nasturtium is a beautiful trailing annual with circular leaves and funnel-shaped flowers in various colors.

Botanical Name: Tropaeolum majus

  • Plant Type: Trailing annual or Short lived perennial
  • Plant Size: Can trail up to 10 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: 9-11, grown as an annual elsewhere

Nasturtium is a beautiful trailing annual that can be added to hanging baskets, window boxes, beautiful ground over, or herb gardens. The leaves are circular in shape and attractive. The flowers are funnel-shaped and come in a variety of colors, including orange, white, red, yellow, and deep red.

These edible flowers thrive in full sun and poor soil. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong blooming throughout the growing season. Skip fertilizer applications. The fertilizer will promote foliar growth but not the flowers.

Oriental Poppy

Close-up of Papaver orientalis flowering plants in a sunny garden. The plant bears large, attractive, cup-shaped flowers, with four to six bright red, corrugated, papery petals. In the center of the flowers there is a contrasting dark stigma surrounded by a cluster of stamens.
Oriental poppies are stunning perennials for sunny gardens, with large red flowers accentuated by a dark center.

Botanical Name: Papaver orientalis

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-8

These boldly ornamental perennials are a gorgeous addition to your sun-filled gardens. The large flowers of the oriental poppy come in bright colors and some pastel colors, all accented by a dark center. The flowers will last for up to two weeks, but after that, the entire plant will go dormant, so be sure to plant your poppies in an area of your garden where you do not mind having gaps.

Plant oriental poppies in rich soil that is moist and well-draining. If you live in a hot and humid area, you may have difficulty getting oriental poppies to grow. They prefer warm and dry climates. Oriental poppies are carefree, requiring little water and only a trim once the flowers pass.


Close-up of two different types of flowering petunias in the garden. Petunias have large funnel-shaped flowers, with smooth, rounded and corrugated petals. One type of petunia has bright pink petals and a darker throat and veins. Another type of petunia has dark purple petals with a white border.
Petunias, beloved annuals, are versatile for flower beds, window boxes, hanging baskets, and containers.

Botanical Name: Petunia spp.

  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Plant Size: 6 inches to 1 foot tall, 2-3 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 2-9 as an annual, 10-11 as a perennial

Petunias are an extremely well-loved annual used in flower beds, window boxes, hanging baskets, and large containers. Petunias bloom in every color under the sun. There are even many bi-colored varieties. This annual creeps and trails while producing trumpet-shaped blossoms.

Deadheading your petunias is crucial if you want your plants to continue to flower all season long. Keep the soil moist, and fertilize about once a month. If your petunia looks leggy or ragged, give it a bit of a trim, and it will rejuvenate.

Pot Marigold

Top view, close-up of blooming Calendula officinalis in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, daisy-like, bright orange, with several layers of thin petals. The leaves are lanceolate, smooth, dark green.
Pot marigold is a popular and low-maintenance annual with vibrant daisy-like flowers in yellow and orange.

Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis

  • Plant Type: Annual, Herb
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 2-9 as an annual, 10-11 as a perennial

Pot marigold, also known as calendula, is a popular annual that gardeners love for its ease of care, and its brightly colored flowers. These flowers are daisy-like and come in shades of yellow and orange. These flowers can reach up to 4 inches in diameter, making a stunning display in your flower beds.

Once these plants are established in your gardens, they will require little water. Plant pot marigolds as a trap crop around your veggies or beloved perennials. These plants excrete a sticky sap that will catch aphids, whiteflies, and other small insects, preventing them from getting to your other plants.

Rose Campion

Top view, close-up of a flowering Lychnis coronaria plant in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, five-petalled, have deep petals of deep pink, which gives them a fringed and ruffled appearance. The stems and leaves of the plant are silvery gray.
Rose Campion is a low-maintenance plant for sunny gardens, featuring pretty magenta flowers.

Botanical Name: Lychnis coronaria

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardness Zones: 4-10

Try rose campion if you are looking for a less popular but equally as beautiful plant for your sunny garden. Also known by the name Lychnis, this plant is so easy to care for and has pretty little flowers. These flowers will be magenta, white, or a combination of the 2 colors. The foliage is soft and silver in color.

Rose campion will bloom for a very long period of time, especially if you deadhead spent blossoms regularly. This plant will self-sow pretty prolifically, which is great if you are okay with this plant spreading a bit, but be sure to deadhead if you want to keep this plant in check.

Scarlet Sage

Close-up of blooming Salvia splendens in the garden. The flowers are rich red in color, collected in dense vertical inflorescences. The tubular flowers have two lips, with the upper lip being smaller and the lower lip being larger and more pronounced. The leaves are dark green, heart-shaped with smooth edges.
Scarlet sage adds vibrant red or purple hues to flowerbeds, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Botanical Name: Salvia splendens

  • Plant Type: Annual, Perennial
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: Perennial in zones 10-11, grown as an annual elsewhere

For a bright red or purple addition to your flowerbeds or window boxes, head to your garden center and grab some scarlet sage. Also known as annual salvia, scarlet sage is a tender perennial in warm climates or an annual in cooler climates. The leaves are medium green and large. The flowers rise above the foliage in spikes of tube-shaped flowers.

Scarlet sage requires no deadheading and grows best in moist and well-draining soil. Plant scarlet sage where you would like to attract pollinators; this plant will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.


Close-up of blooming Matthiola incana plants in a sunny garden against a blurred green background. The flowers are small, double, pink with ruffled, velvety petals. These flowers are collected in inflorescences on tall spikelets.
Stock is a beautiful and fragrant annual with single or double flowers arranged on spikes.

Botanical  Name: Matthiola incana

  • Plant Type: Annual, Short-lived perennial
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 7-10, grown as an annual elsewhere

Matthiola incana, commonly known as stock, is a gorgeous and fragrant flowering annual. The flowers are either single or double and are arranged on a spike, making them a gorgeous choice for cut flower arrangements. The flowers come in a variety of shades of pink, purple, and white.

Stock is an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plant that thrives in a variety of soil types. This annual does especially well in full sun but is tolerant of light shade as well. Stock does well as a flower bed planting, but it is really pretty when planted in windowboxes or containers.

Sweet Pea

Close-up of a flowering plant Lathyrus odoratus in a sunny garden, against a blurred background. Flowers are collected in inflorescences on a long thin stem. The flowers are small, bright pink, and butterfly shaped with a distinct upper petal, two side petals (wings), and two lower petals that fuse together to form a boat-shaped structure.
Sweet peas, whether climbing or bushy, feature pretty pastel flowers with a delightful scent.

Botanical Name: Lathyrus odoratus

  • Plant Type: Annual, Vine
  • Plant Size: up to 8 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 2-11 as an annual

Sweet peas are gorgeous climbing annuals or bushy annuals, depending on which variety you choose. The vines can climb up to 8 feet in height, whereas the busy varieties will top out at about 3 feet tall. The pretty pastel-colored flowers are highly aromatic and should be planted where you can enjoy their beauty and their scent.

Use a support such as a trellis or an archway for your sweet peas to climb. Plant your sweet peas in rich soil that can be kept moist yet well drained. Fertilize this annual every couple of weeks to encourage growth.

Zonal Geranium

Close-up of blooming Zonal Geranium in a sunny garden. The plant has rounded clusters consisting of several individual flowers tightly packed together. These individual flowers are small in size and have a characteristic funnel or trumpet shape. The petals are bright pink with a white base closer to the center.
Zonal geraniums, popular annuals, feature vibrant flowers and scalloped foliage.

Botanical Name: Pelargonium spp.

  • Plant Type: Annual, Perennial
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Hardiness Zones: 9-11, grown as an annual elsewhere

Grown widely as an annual, zonal geraniums are a garden staple. This flowering plant produces large clusters of brightly colored flowers atop green scalloped foliage. Plant zonal geraniums in your flower beds or in windowboxes and containers for a classic garden look.

Regular deadheading is required for repeat blooms. Removing any leaves that have begun to turn brown is also recommended. Water these pretty flowers regularly, and plant them in full sun for the best results.

Final Thoughts

When you are growing plants that require full sun in your garden, it is important to make sure the area actually receives full sun. This is 6 or more hours of sun per day. Do your best to keep these plants well-watered throughout the growing season unless they are drought-tolerant. This will help get your plants through the summer heat without a hitch. Happy planting!

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