Embracing The Sun

By Mary Ellen Ellis | June 5, 2021
by Mary Ellen Ellis
June 5, 2021

I grew up with a love of plants and gardening, as well as an unfortunately shady yard. Since then, I have come to live in a house with sunny spots, shady areas, and a mix of both. It has been a great joy to embrace the full sun beds with some of my favorite plants. 

Annuals in the Sun

My absolute favorite annual I could never grow when I had so much shade is the pretty little petunia. I love the trumpet shape, the bright and cheerful colors, and the way they grow low to the ground. 

I have devoted a sunny bed in the front of the house solely to petunias. It’s a long, narrow strip of a bed, so the flowers spread out and fill the area like a carpet of color. I always choose a mix of colors, but my favorites are the bright pink petunias. It never gets too hot or sunny for these flowers. 

This year, for the first time, I plan to add some sunflowers to one of my sunniest beds. I know they thrive in full sun, so I have high hopes they’ll do well. My only real challenge will be to prevent deer from eating the seedlings. 

Perennials for Sunny Beds

Growing perennials in full sun has been a little tricker for me. I have some hostas in bed that gets too hot and sunny about mid-summer. It took me a while to realize what was happening. The tips of the leaves started turning brown. I thought initially they had some type of disease, but ultimately realized it was the sun and heat of the spot where they grew. 

Next, I tried day lilies. These do much better in the hot, sunny bed. They soak up the sun and thrive all summer. I also grow sedum in the bed, many that I put in to replace the failed hostas. Sedum is both attractive and low maintenance. In the fall, their pink flowers turn a deep shade of red. 

Finally, I put in black-eyed Susan. I love how cheerful these flowers are. And, they’re native to Michigan, so I feel good about growing them. The flowers attract butterflies and make a nice mass in the center of the bed. 

Sunny beds are a true joy to plan and tend. Shady spots present a conundrum, a problem to solve, but full sun areas of the garden are just waiting to be filled with any number of plants.

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