What are the best plants for south-facing gardens? When planning a garden or adding plants to an existing garden, one of the most important factors to consider is sunshine.
If you have a south-facing garden, you are sure to get plenty of direct sunshine.
A north-facing garden will get far less direct sunlight. You will find that certain plants do not do well or may even die.
South-facing gardens can get up to 8 hours of direct sun per day. They also tend to get very hot in the mid-Summer months.
Thus, you need to make sure that the plants you choose can tolerate heat and that they love direct sunshine.
If you live in the southern hemisphere, you will have to reverse your thinking. In these regions, north-facing gardens get the sun and south-facing gardens are much cooler and shadier.
With that said, you can find many beautiful plants that thrive with at least 6 or more hours of direct sun per day.
Let’s take a look at some of them!
Best Plants for South Facing Gardens
- Chamaemelum nobile (Chamomile)
- Sedum spectabile (Ice plant or Stonecrop)
- Lophocereus marginatus (Mexican fence post cactus)
- Euphorbia characias (Mediterranean spurge)
- Gaura lindheimeri (Beeblossom)
- Santolina Chamaecyparissus (Cotton lavender)
- Helianthemum (Sun rose or Rock rose)
- Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed)
- Canna Lily
- Paeonia lactiflora (Chinese peony or common garden peony)
- Aquilegia (Columbine or Granny’s bonnet)
Read about the best plants for the south-facing balcony.
Best Plants for South Facing Gardens
Bougainvilleas come in many varieties with flowers ranging from deep red to pink, and purple. They grow vigorously and spread quickly.
According to the University of Florida Bougainvilleas are tropical plants. Its flowers are modified leaves that are called bracts.
Bougainvilleas make attractive hedges and can climb walls, tree trunks, and fences.
Most of all they love the sun and thrive in full sunshine. This makes them a great choice for your south-facing garden or patio.
A Bougainvillea plant wants at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Plant them where they are not obscured by walls or structures that will throw shade.
They can tolerate hot, dry locations.
Bougainvilleas do not enjoy soil that is wet for long periods of time and they do not enjoy the shade.
If your Bougainvillea gets too much shade, it will not be happy, and you should consider replanting it in a sunny spot.
Make sure your Bougainvillea gets full sun and it will delight you with the most stunning flowers through the summer and into fall.
2. Chamaemelum nobile (Chamomile)
I love daisy-like flowers and Chamomile is a classic! This pretty flower also has a lovely fragrance that will waft across your garden and into your home.
Chamomile is perfect for south-facing gardens as it thrives in positions with full sun.
Chamaemelum Nobile wants at least 6 hours of direct sun per day to keep it happy.
Plant your Chamomile in beds or in borders. It also looks fabulous in rock gardens.
Because the plant spreads fast and densely, you can use it as an interesting ground cover in place of the lawn.
Ensure that your Chamomile plants are not planted near walls or against the sides of buildings. These structures will throw shade onto the plants and take away valuable sunlight.
Chamomile offers flowers through the summer and into early autumn. Plant into average, well-draining soil. It does not require much maintenance and will tolerate dry conditions.
Chamomile offers an added bonus! You can pick the flowers, steep them in water and make a refreshing and healthy tea.
You may sometimes find that plants you choose just do not thrive well in your garden. One main factor to look at is the amount of sunlight that your plant is getting.
Some plants will not thrive in dark, shady conditions and want direct sunlight.
If you have a south-facing garden, you need to look for plants that love sunlight. The stunning Verbena is a great choice.
The Verbena genus contains about 250 species, and one of the most well-known is called The Tears of Isis. Over the centuries it has been used as a herbal remedy and in aromatherapy treatments.
Verbena thrives in full sunlight, making it ideal for your sunny south-facing garden. It wants at least 8 hours of direct sun every day.
Verbena prefers average well-draining soil and can tolerate drier conditions.
When your Verbena is thriving in full sunlight, you will be rewarded with beautiful pink, purple, coral, or blue-violet flowers.
They attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, bringing life and movement into your summer garden.
4. Sedum spectabile (Ice plant)
The beautiful Sedum spectabile, known as the Ice plant or Stonecrop, offers a fabulous show of clustered pink flowers against bright green foliage.
Sedum spectabile wants full sun, or at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. This plant will not grow in the shade, so your sunny south-facing garden is perfect.
Don’t plant your Sedum spectabile under a tree, as the shade from the tree will take away valuable sunlight.
It is hardy and grows vigorously through the summer into the autumn months.
This is a delightful plant to adorn your borders and walkways that are in full sunlight for most of the day.
This plant can tolerate very dry conditions and does not require much maintenance.
It is also disease resistant, making it a great choice for beginner gardeners.
As a bonus, it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Just what you need in your sunny garden.
5. Lophocereus marginatus (Mexican fence post cactus)
One thing you can be sure about when you plant a cactus is that it wants full sunshine. Think hot, dry desert and burning sun.
Your Mexican fence post cactus loves the sun and is happy to stand in 8 hours of direct sunlight all day long.
This makes the Lophocereus marginatus the perfect plant for your south-facing home garden.
The Mexican fence post cactus can grow very tall outdoors. It may even reach up to 20 feet (6m) when mature.
The Fence Post name tells it exactly like it is – they make great fences, barriers, and boundaries.
This cactus thrives in direct sunlight. It cannot get enough light, so any south-facing garden is perfect. It is also drought tolerant and you won’t have to worry about soil or watering.
For beginner gardeners, planting cacti in your south-facing garden is an easy choice. They are hardy and thrive in the most difficult conditions.
6. Euphorbia characias (Mediterranean spurge)
If you are like me and don’t love a winter garden that is bare and drab, choosing evergreen plants is a must. They offer color and life all year round and make me happy.
A fabulous evergreen plant that loves south-facing gardens is the Euphorbia characias, commonly called the Mediterranean spurge.
It grows as an upright, compact shrub and is ideal to fill in beds, borders and even to create a focal point in the middle of a garden.
When it comes to light, your Mediterranean spurge wants full sunlight to be at its best.
It offers yellow-green flowers in a bottle-brush shape that grow amongst the bright green foliage. Flowers last through the late spring into summer and fall.
Plant your Mediterranean spurge where it will not be shaded by trees, fences, or structures in your garden. Make sure that it gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine daily.
Your plant is drought tolerant but can do with watering if conditions are exceptionally hot. Do not allow it to stand in continuously wet soil.
7. Gaura lindheimeri (Beeblossom)
If you are worried that beautiful delicate flowering plants need loads of attention, the Beeblossom will put your mind at ease.
It only wants loads of sunlight and is perfect for your south-facing garden. This lovely white bloom is hardy and needs minimal care and maintenance.
This plant looks stunning in rock gardens, next to water features, alongside paths and walkways. It looks glorious when growing in large groups in beds.
The beautiful butterfly-like white-pink flowers are sure to add a beautiful ambiance to your living space.
Gaura lindheimeri thrives best in full sun. Make sure you choose a spot that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun per day.
Avoid spots where trees and fences will throw shade on your plants and take away valuable sunlight.
Apart from sunlight, you do not need to worry too much about care.
The Beeblossom is not fussy when it comes to soil, watering, or feeding. Plant it in sandy, loamy soil that is well-draining and it will be happy.
8. Santolina Chamaecyparissus (Cotton Lavender)
Cotton Lavender is an attractive shrub with eye-catching white or grey leaves. It creates a fabulous contrast when growing next to green plants.
This plant thrives in hot dry conditions. It does want shade or damp conditions.
That makes the Cotton Lavender ideal for your south-facing garden.
The cotton lavender produces masses of beautiful golden-yellow flowers in summer. You can use it as a filler in beds and borders. It is also ideal as a low hedge.
The leaves of the plant have a pleasant mild aroma that will waft into your home.
To ensure that your Santolina Chamaecyparissus attains its full potential, plant in a dry sunny spot where it will get maximum sun throughout the day.
Cotton lavender does require some maintenance. When you see that the flowers are dying off, snip them off the stems.
They can damage the foliage as they decompose. If you want to maintain the compact bush shape of the plant, you can do some light pruning in spring to keep the branches neat.
9. Helianthemum (sun rose or rock rose)
Another lovely plant that thrives in full sun is Helianthemum, also known as the sun rose or rock rose. Because their native habitat is the Mediterranean regions, they love hot sunny days.
Your south-facing garden is the ideal spot to plant Helianthemums. South-facing gardens get full sun during the day and you can take advantage of this by choosing plants that thrive in hot, sunny, and drier conditions.
Helianthemums offer an abundance of flowers in tones of white, yellow, red, peach, pink, and orange. To create a focal point in a garden, why not plant many different colors?
The flowers last only for a day, but a healthy plant will continue to offer a stunning display through the summer months.
Plant your Sun Rose in a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of direct sun every day. This plant does not enjoy being in the shade and will not survive cold, damp, and shady positions.
You also do not need to worry about watering. Helianthemums are happy in drier soil and can even tolerate less than fertile soil. They are ideal for beginner gardeners.
Plant your Helianthemums where it will get full sun. Avoid areas under trees or near walls where the shade will fall onto the plants.
They are great for rockeries and beds. Use them to fill in dull spaces in your garden where you want a smaller, eye-catching, colorful shrub.
Apart from ensuring that your plant gets ample sun, there is very little care needed for these beauties.
10. Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed)
Tropical milkweed is a stunning plant that offers clusters of red-orange flowers with yellow hoods. They bloom throughout the summer into fall, adding color to any home garden.
The shrub is also evergreen, so in winter you won’t be looking at bare branches.
Asclepias curassavica loves hot sunny climates and is ideal for your south-facing garden. It wants at least 8 hours of direct sun every day to grow at its best.
Don’t plant your Tropical milkweed in the shade, it will not be happy and may even die.
South-facing gardens get loads of sun and are perfect for plants that require low maintenance and are not fussy about the soil they grow in.
This plant is perfect for a cottage garden. It also looks lovely as a backdrop in borders and will grow in containers on a sunny patio.
It is a fast-growing plant and can reach heights of up to 4 feet (1.2m).
Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are attracted to the large amounts of nectar in the flowers of the tropical milkweed. They will bring sound, color, and movement into your garden.
As always, for plants that want full sun, ensure that you are not planting it under a tree or near a fence or wall that will throw shade as the sun moves overhead.
This will reduce the number of hours of direct sun that the plant gets and will affect its growth.
Tropical milkweed is not fussy about the soil. Just make sure it is well-draining and not constantly damp.
11. Canna Lily
Growing Canna lilies does require a little more attention than other plants. If you are a gardener who is happy to spend time and adhere to some basic rules you will be rewarded!
The Canna lily is a sun-loving plant and will thrive in a south-facing garden. Although it can tolerate some shade, full sun will allow it to produce its most spectacular colorful flowers.
The Canna lily brings a tropical vibe to your south-facing garden. It has large exotic banana-shaped leaves in tones of deep green.
The flowers vary in color from vibrant pink to cream, yellow, orange, and red.
When grown in full sunlight, they will bloom from mid-summer to the start of the first frost.
Ensure that your plant gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day.
Canna lilies look spectacular as a focal point in your garden when massed in groups. They are also great to plant in containers on south-facing patios.
South-facing gardens attract more sun than north-facing gardens and deciding which plants to choose is simple!
Ask your local nursery about perennials that want at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day.
As I mentioned earlier, Canna lilies do require some attention. But don’t stress. Ensure that you fertilize every alternate month during the growing season.
Give them water at least once a week. They do enjoy a richer soil. You can add organic compost or mulch to your flower bed and they will bloom beautifully.
12. Paeonia lactiflora (Common garden peony or Chinese peony)
The Peony flower symbolizes romance, good fortune, and prosperity! Even more reason to grow them in your home garden.
And, because they love the sun, they are a perfect choice for a south-facing garden.
The Peony is a shrubby plant with dark green glossy foliage. It produces lush showy flowers in late spring and throughout the summer. The flowers are known for their beautiful fragrance.
The are many varieties of the Peony, the most popular being the Sarah Bernhardt and the Festiva Maxima.
Ensure that your peony plants get at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun every day. They won’t do well in dark shady spots.
That is why they are perfect for a sunny south-facing garden.
You can plant them along paths, walkways, next to water features, in borders or beds. They look great against fences but ensure that the fence will not throw too much shade onto the plants and deprive them of the sunlight that they need.
When it comes to soil, Peony plants enjoy rich, fertile, medium moisture and well-draining soils.
Before planting, prepare your spot with rich organic compost and some mulch to retain moisture.
Once established give them a watering once a week and feed with fertilizer once again during the growing season.
Peonies make a delightful display in a south-facing garden. Make sure you include them in your shopping list when heading off to your local flower market.
13. Aquilegia (Columbine or Granny’s bonnet)
Columbine is an attractive garden perennial that loves the sun. It is the perfect choice for a sunny south-facing garden.
If you have a garden that faces south, you need to take advantage of the many hours of full sunshine you get and choose plants that thrive in hot sunny conditions.
The Aquilegia, known as Columbine or Granny’s bonnet offers delicate lacy foliage interspersed with eye-catching clouds of bell-shaped flowers.
Flowers vary in hue from bright yellow to white, red, blue, violet, and pink.
If planted in full sun, your plant will bloom profusely for 4 to 6 weeks from mid-spring through the summer.
Ensure that you choose a spot that does not get shade and is exposed to at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.
In a south-facing garden, this should be an easy choice. These gardens are blessed with light and sun, offering the perfect conditions for Columbine to flourish.
Columbine is not fussy about soil, but it does prefer average, medium moisture, well-drained soil. It will not be happy in soil that remains constantly wet.
Aquilegia is easy to grow in your south-facing garden and is a great choice for beginners. Plant them in borders, rock gardens, and beds.
They are also a fabulous addition to cottage gardens. If you don’t have a garden but have a sunny south-facing patio, plant them into decorative containers. They will look stunning!
As an added bonus, Columbine will attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds into your living space.
Everyone knows Lavender! It is a beautiful herb that soothes the mind with its aromatic fragrance and stunning bluish-purple hues.
Lavender is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. That makes it perfect for a newbie gardener.
You can plant it and forget about it and simply enjoy the charm that it brings to your living space.
Lavender also enjoys sunlight, so your south-facing garden is the ideal spot to plant it. Lavender wants 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. It will not be happy in shady, dark spots.
Soil is also not a concern. Start your plant in well-draining soil and add some organic fertilizer. Ensure that your soil is not constantly damp as the roots will rot and your plant will die.
After that, you can neglect it and it will not mind! You do not even need to worry about regular watering. A real bonus for gardeners who don’t enjoy fussing too much over their plants.
Ensure that your Lavender plant does not fall into shade. Your south-facing garden is the ideal spot to find full sunlight all day.
You can also grow lavender in a decorative container. It will flourish on a south-facing patio.
Create a beautiful me-space spot with a bench, a water feature, and loads of lavender that wafts beautiful scent into the air. This is your perfect little garden retreat after a busy day!
Read about the best plants for a southwest facing garden next.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.