Gardens that face south get the most sunlight throughout the year. This can be a great blessing for plants that love to soak up the sun. However, it’s not the best position for every plant. Some need a little shade or may wilt in the intense heat of the noon-day sun. Choose your plants wisely to optimize the light and heat of a south-facing garden or bed.
Best Plants for South-Facing Gardens
There are plenty of plants that tolerate south-facing light, and many that will thrive. You need plants that enjoy full sun but also do well in the heat. During the summer, even in northern climates, sunny, southern areas can get very hot. Here are some great choices for your south-facing border, bed, or lawn:
- Sunflower: A classic plant for bright, sunny locations, the sunflower comes in a number of varieties and sizes for nearly any garden space.
- Sedum: The various cultivars of this striking perennial come in different colors and grow clusters of delicate flowers. Sedum stands up very well to heat and sun, and may flop over if grown in too much shade.
- Mediterranean herbs: Herbs like certain varieties of lavender, thyme, sage, and rosemary are native to the hot, dry, sunny Mediterranean region. They will thrive in your south-facing area, even without a lot of watering.
- Chamomile: Another herb that loves full sun is chamomile. It will not tolerate dry soil as well as Mediterranean herbs, but it produces delicate, daisy-like flowers and has a delicious scent.
- Dahlias: For a sun-loving annual, try dahlia. These flowers originate in Mexico, so they are comfortable in hot, dry areas. There are numerous varieties with all kinds of colors, flower shapes, and sizes.
- Helianthemums: Also known as sunrose, helianthemums are low-growing shrubs great for borders, where the flowers will spill over the edge.
- Honeysuckle: Honeysuckle plants love sun and heat and make a great choice for a south wall or fence to climb on. In addition to pretty flowers, you’ll also get a sweet, delicious aroma.
South-Facing Plants in the Southern Hemisphere
If you are a Southern Hemisphere gardener, gardens that face south are shadier and cooler. Instead of plants that tolerate or thrive in sun and heat, you will need some shade-tolerant options such as:
- Hellebore: Also known as winter rose, hellebore is a great south-facing plant for Southern Hemisphere gardens. They produce a range of pretty flowers that can grow under trees and in shady beds.
- Hostas: Known more for foliage than flowers, hosta plants include several varieties with leaves in all shades of green and variegated colors. They thrive in shady areas.
- Lily-of-the-valley bush: This shrub will tolerate shade and is low maintenance. Lily-of-the-valley-bush produces clusters of white flowers that resemble those of lily-of-the-valley.
- Impatiens: This is a great shade-tolerant annual. Use impatiens to fill in spaces between perennials in your south-facing beds.
- Crocus: Even though crocus plants do best in full sun, shady spots are okay during the summer months because they bloom so early in the year.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.