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10 Native Full-Sun Plants and Flowers That Thrive in the Heat

We're living through one of the hottest summers on record. Here are 10 full-sun plants and flowers that thrive in the heat.

Written by
Jenna Mignano

We're living through one of the hottest summers on record—and so are our plants. For those of us who love to garden, this weather has the potential to interfere with the health of the plants that comprise your personal landscape.

In terms of honoring footprints and local ecosystems, seeking out native plants for your garden is a must. Aside from thriving within your natural climate without immense amounts of maintenance, many common landscaping plants not only non-native, but invasive, which can lead to environmental harm.

Though non-native plants are often picked for their beauty, there are plenty of native flowering plants that can decorate your garden, bring you joy, and survive the rising temperature. Here, 10 full-sun plants and flowers found across North America that thrive in the summer heat.

10 Native Full-Sun Plants and Flowers

1. Sunflower

As the name suggests, these iconic flowers love to soak up the sun! In addition to their bright brand of beauty, sunflowers enjoy a very deep history in North America: Indigenous peoples were growing them as crops as far back as 4,500 years ago.

The plant has the added benefit of producing edible seeds that can be snacked on, used for oil, and more. Sunflowers are distinctive and beloved: the flower is one of the most versatile plants you'll find on this list in terms of habitat and is found in all 50 states, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. Who knows—your flowers may grow tall enough to provide some shade.

2. Prickly Pear Cactus

Although one look at those spines is enough to make anyone wince, there are many benefits to planting prickly pear cacti if you live in an environment which supports their growth. These full-sun plants will thrive in much of the southern and western United States.

The best part of this cactus is that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor—the prickly pears are edible (and lend to a mean margarita)! There are several types of prickly pear, all with their own distinct vibrant color and flavor. What's not to love?

3. Wood Lily

Found throughout most of the United States and half of the Canadian provinces, wood lilies are a stunning species native to North America that grows in environments with half to full sun. Though they grow widely, a relatively dry environment is crucial to their survival.

Although these lilies are lovely, keep in mind that, according to the ASPCA, wood lilies are toxic for cats when ingested. So plant with caution if you own some furry friends (or have some four-legged neighbors).

4. Carolina Rose

The Carolina rose, also known as the pasture rose, is simple to care for. They're found throughout the eastern United States, come in various shades of pink, and have five petals.

Caroline roses bloom in the spring and prefer medium to wet soil. They're perennial plants, meaning that you'll be able to watch as these delicate, full-sun flowers return to grace your garden each year.

5. Black-Eyed Susan

If you're looking for a little something to brighten up your garden, the black-eyed Susan is the perfect option. Black-eyed Susans can be found in much of the central U.S. and bloom through late spring to early fall.

Black-eyed Susans are relatively hardy, though they're not fans of soggy soil. Rather, they have the capability to tolerate dry soil for several weeks—with more frequent drought years on the horizon, this yellow flower can keep your garden feeling fresh.

6. Blue Flag Iris

These vibrant blooms are a sure star in any garden. Many irises, like the blue flag, are native to North America. The perennial blooms from late spring to early summer in the northeastern U.S. and Canada, and can handle both full and partial sun. Irises prefer damp environments, but overall are very tolerant and resilient enough to withstand both floods and droughts.

7. Trumpet Honeysuckle

Trumpet honeysuckle is a vine that can grow up to 15 feet in length. Honeysuckle is found throughout much of the United States, their unique shape providing the perfect vessel for hummingbirds looking to snack on some nectar. Honeysuckle actually prefers a very sunny environment (good news!) but will also tolerate shade.

8. Texas Lantana

Lantana urticoides, commonly known as Texas lantana, is a flowering plant native to Mexico and Texas. These fiery flowers can survive some serious heat and do just fine in drier soils.

Texas lantana generally grows to be between three and four feet tall, and they bloom from July to frost. If you're looking for a plant that's strong enough to beat the heat, the lantana will not disappoint!

9. New England Aster

The New England aster plant is found in the eastern and central U.S. Unlike many of the other flowers listed here, the aster blooms from late summer to mid-autumn.

New England aster can grow anywhere from three to six feet tall, and benefits many pollinators and insects. They love moist soil and, of course, full to partial sun. As for aesthetics, their light purple hue certainly has the capability of bringing variety to any garden.

10. Rock Rose

Rock roses are vibrant flowers that can resemble tropical hibiscus. It is native to Texas, California, and Mexico. Given that they make their homes in some of the hottest and driest land that North America has to offer, they are clearly quite drought tolerant.

Rock roses come with many benefits, attracting pollinators, remaining in bloom for extended periods of time, and showing up season after season.