Full Sun Japanese Plants – Planting A Japanese Garden In Full Sun

A Japanese Style Garden With A Bridge Over Water
(Image credit: Yuliia_Hrozian)

Theme gardens are fun to create and a delight to enjoy once you’ve completed the design and construction work. If you have a love for Japanese aesthetic, a garden that embraces those elements can be a wonderful way to celebrate the culture. There are many different factors to consider, but including plants that thrive in the sun and are native to or popular in Japanese gardens will be essential. 

All About Sunny Japanese Gardens

If you’re considering creating a Japanese garden in your sunny yard or sun-drenched bed, you’ll need the right plants. But there is much more to this style of garden than simply plant choice. These are some of the elements you may want to include along with the full sun Japanese plants: 

  • Streamline plantings and pay attention to space between plants. 
  • Don’t overcrowd plants -- minimalism is key.
  • Consider all elements of the garden and find balance between them, including trees, rocks, the house, walkways, and even the view from your garden. 
  • Embrace the moss in your garden and let it grow. 
  • Make contemplation and serenity the guiding themes in your Japanese garden. 

Choosing Full Sun Plants for a Japanese Garden

To create a Japanese garden in full sun, you will need to select plants that won’t dry up or wilt in the intense light. Here are some native and typical Japanese garden plants that will love your sunniest garden spots:

  • Iris. If you have a boggy or wet area of the garden, embrace the water-loving iris. There are plenty of Japanese varieties. 
  • Lotus. For a Japanese pond garden, you must include lotus. These pretty water flowers love the sun. 
  • Azalea. This flowering shrub is a staple in Japan, and while it will tolerate shade, it also loves sun. 
  • Creeping sedum. Moss growing between rocks is a staple of Japanese gardens, but if you don’t have cool, shady areas it may be tough to grow. Creeping sedum varieties thrive in the sun and will fill in spaces between rocks and walkways with shades of green. 
  • Japanese maple. Popular as an ornamental tree in many gardens, this small tree comes in beautiful shades of red and pink. 
  • Ornamental cherry. Few trees are more associated with Japan than cherry. The spring flowers are unparalleled. A weeping cherry will provide some shade for other Japanese plants that can’t tolerate full sun. 
  • Bamboo. This tall, fast-growing grass relative adds an Asian element to any garden space. While some varieties prefer shade, you can find clumping bamboos that love the sun. And, unlike running bamboo it won’t rapidly take over your yard.
Mary Ellen Ellis

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.