The Best Full Sun Texas Plants (WIth Pictures) – Identification Guide

The Best Full Sun Texas Plants (WIth Pictures) - Identification Guide

Choosing the best full-sun plants for growing in a Texas garden landscape can be challenging. Sun-hardy shrubs, perennials, and flowers that thrive in Texas must be drought-tolerant plants and withstand hot, dry conditions. The good news is that many native Texas plants perform well when they get more than six hours of direct sunshine daily. Additionally, many full-sun Texas plants are easy-care and bloom throughout the summer in the Lone Star State with minimal care.

This article is a guide to the best full-sun plants to grow in Texas. Descriptions and pictures of heat-tolerant plants that thrive in the hot and dry Texas climate will help you choose the best varieties to add vibrant colors to your garden landscape.

The Best Full Sun Plants for Growing in Texas

Although cacti are common in Texas desert regions, many flowering plants thrive in hours of sun. The best plants for prolonged sun exposure include the Texas bluebonnet, cape plumbago, hardy hibiscus, Texas aster, and the Texas coneflower. However, many more shrubs and perennials thrive in Texas growing zone—USDA zones 6 through 9.

Full Sun Plants for Texas Climate

The varied climate in Texas makes finding flowering plants for full-sun conditions challenging. The west of Interstate 35 in Texas, including the Panhandle and along the Mexican border, is classed as arid desert. However, the eastern part of Texas, from San Antonio and Dallas to Arkansas, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico, is a subtropical, humid climate.

However, a big difference exists between temperature ranges in North Texas and along the Gulf Coast. For example, the Panhandle and areas south to San Angelo and Fort Worth are in USDA zones 6 and 7, where winter temperatures can drop between -5°F and 10°F (-20°C and -12°C).

Most Central and Southern Texas areas are in USDA zones 8 and 9. These include cities like Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, and Galveston. In these zones, shrubs and perennials must endure plenty of sunlight and humid conditions.

However, full-sun shrubs and flowering desert plants growing in the west of Texas must withstand extended periods of drought and heat. But in northwest Texas and the Panhandle, cold-hardy plants may have to tolerate freezing temperatures in winter.

Full Sun Texas Plants (With Pictures and Descriptions)

Let’s look in detail at some of the best plants to grow in full sun in Texas.

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)

Texas bluebonnet is a native full sun flower suitable for north and central Texas

Texas bluebonnet – also the state flower of Texas – is a Texas native wildflower that blooms in full sun and well-drained soil. The low-growing Texas bluebonnet is one of the best outdoors Texas plants because it thrives in full sun. It is identified by its attractive clusters of pea-sized, blue-purple flowers growing in spikes and featuring a white tip. Also called Texas lupine, the plant grows 12” to 24” (30 – 60 cm) tall.

Texas bluebonnet is an ideal flower for growing in a sunny wildflower or cottage garden. The low-maintenance plants thrive in full-sun conditions in North and Central Texas north of San Antonio and Houston in USDA zones 6 to 8.

For a stunning visual display, you can grow the blue-purple flowers as a border plant or in large groups. The hardy, low-maintenance plant blooms during drought conditions.

Hardy Hibiscus ‘Texas Star’ (Hibiscus coccineus)

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus is a heat and sun-loving Texas flowering shrub with attractive red flowers

Hardy hibiscus ‘Texas Star’ is a full sun flowering shrub for Texas gardens with stunning five-petalled red flowers in a star shape. Identifying features of the hardy hibiscus are its large protruding red stamens with yellowish tips, deep green, shiny, palmately divided leaves, and upright habit. This southern tropical shrub grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall.

The Texas Star hibiscus is a vigorous, fast-growing red-flowering shrub. The showy flowers measure 3” to 5” (7.5 – 12 cm) in diameter and bloom in summer and fall. This hardy native Texas plant thrives in the Lone Star State’s hot, humid summers. It’s suitable for USDA zones 6 to 9.

The hardy hibiscus perennial shrub is also on the list of tropical full-sun shrubs for Florida.

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)

Cape plumbago is a beautiful evergreen heat and sun tolerant climbing plant for central and south Texas

Cape plumbago is an evergreen vining plant with clusters of lilac-blue flowers measuring 1” (2.5 cm) across. The delicate, five-lobed, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom profusely on arching branches from spring through summer. Also called cape leadwort, the sunny plant thrives in USDA zones 8 to 11 in full sun or partial shade.

Cape plumbago grows 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall and spreads 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m) wide. The blue-flowering evergreen vine with its spoon-shaped leaves is ideal for cascading over retaining walls, borders, ground cover, or a beautiful trellis plant.

Related reading: Ground cover plants with blue flowers.

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’)

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’)

Texas gold columbine is a yellow flowering perennial plant that is suitable for full sun and partial shade

Texas gold columbine is a sun-loving, drought-tolerant perennial with bright yellow flowers. Identifying features of the Texas flowers are their long, backward-pointing spurs, fern-like foliage, and long blooming time. This native Texas plant is fast-growing with clumping growth. Its golden-yellow showy flowers brighten sunny gardens in North and Central Texas.

The large yellow flowers with the dramatic spurs measure 3” (7.5 cm) across and bloom profusely on nodding stems.

Texas Gold columbine is a low-maintenance plant growing 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall. The easy-grow perennial, with its masses of large yellow flowers, grows well in heat, direct sunlight, and well-drained soils. Suitable for growing in USDA zones 3 to 8, Texas gold columbine also performs well in partially shaded gardens.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)

Turk’s cap is a red flowering heat tolerant shrubby plant that is evergreen in south Texas

Also called Texas mallow or sleeping hibiscus, Turk’s cap is a red-flowering full sun herbaceous perennial shrub for Texas gardens. The ornamental shrub is identified by its unique, bright red, bell-shaped flowers resembling a Turkish turban. The flowers bloom from late spring through fall. These deep red to scarlet flowers contrast with the dark green, glossy leaves.

In southern areas of Texas, Turk’s cap has evergreen foliage. The small bushy plant grows 2 to 5 ft. (0.6 – 2.4 m) tall and 6 ft. (1.8 m) wide. The drought and heat-tolerant plant needs protection from direct sunlight on hot afternoons.

Turk’s cap is an excellent choice for a sunny garden or landscape as a container, border, or ground cover plant. It is winter hardy through Texas and is suitable for growing in USDA zones 7 to 10.

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush is an orange-reddish flowering shrub that grows best in full sun in south Texas

Firebrush is a fast-growing tropical shrub with clusters of orange-red tubular flowers. The showy flower clusters create an explosion of red hues on the small shrub. These flowers contrast nicely with the whorls of evergreen leaves. The drought-tolerant, easy-to-care-for Firebrush shrub performs best in full sun in southern states.

Also known as scarlet bush or the firecracker plant, this sunny shrub grows into a flowering mound 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall and wide. The best uses for this Texas shrub in a sun-drenched landscape are as a specimen plant, shrub border, or foundation planting.

Firebrush is suitable for planting in USDA zones 9 to 11.

Texas Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

Texas Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

Texas aster is a purple flowering plant that prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade

Texas aster is an attractive plant for Texas gardens that blooms during drought conditions with masses of purple or blue daisy-like flowers and dull yellow centers. Blooming in the fall, Texas aster flowers create mounds of lavender colors contrasting nicely with the delicate fragrant foliage. The blue-purple rays measure 1” (2.5 cm) across, and the dark green leaves are 4” (10 cm) long.

Texas aster is suitable for growing in USDA zones 5 to 9, where its preferred sun exposure is at least six hours of sunlight. The starry flowers grow 1 to 3 ft. (0.3 – 1 m) tall and wide. You can grow the Texas aster plant in full sun or partial shade for mixed borders, cottage gardens, ground cover, or to hide a foundation line.

Texas Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata)

Tickseed (Coreopsis)

Tickseeds are hardy drought tolerant and heat loving flowers that are common in sunny areas in Texas

Texas tickseed is a low-maintenance native Texas plant with bright yellow ray flowers. The large golden-yellow daisy-like flowers have eight yellow slightly lobed petals surrounding a yellow-orange central disc. The showy flowers measure 2” (5 cm) across and bloom from late spring through summer on slender, erect stems.

Also called lanceleaf tickseed, this heat-loving, drought-tolerant plant thrives in full sun and well-drained soil throughout the Lone Star State. The flowers grow 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall and wide. This native Texas flower is ideal for planting in a wildflower garden to brighten a border or add yellow color to a foundation line.

Grow Texas tickseed in USDA zones 4 through 9 in well-drained soil.

‘John Fanick’ Phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’)

‘John Fanick’ Phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’)

‘John Fanick’ phlox is a beautiful Texas flowering perennial that is heat and drought tolerant and is great as a landscaping plant

‘John Fanick’ phlox is a hardy perennial landscaping plant that thrives in full sun. The plant produces masses of fragrant, pink and whitish-lavender flower clusters. The pink-flowering phlox cultivar has everything you need from a Texas plant—tolerance to humidity, drought, and heat. The flowering garden plant grows in clumps of upright flowers measuring 1 to 3 ft. (0.3 – 1 m) tall and wide.

Named after a Texas horticulturist, the showy clusters of pinkish flowers bloom throughout summer. This phlox variety is an ideal plant in Texas landscapes as a border, container, or foundation plant. ‘John Fanick’ phlox is suitable for growing in USDA zones 4 through 8.

Egyptian Star Flowers (Pentas lanceolata)

Egyptian Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata)

Egyptian star flowers are low maintenance, heat and sun tolerant plants that are a great addition to south Texas gardens

Lush Egyptian star flowers are woody shrubs that grow 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide. The star-shaped pink flowers on red stems make a beautiful addition to tropical landscapes in southern Texas. You can plant the attractive ornamental shrubs in beds and borders or containers.

Egyptian star flowers are easily recognized in a sunny Texas landscape due to their clusters of dainty star-shaped flowers in shades of pink, red, white, and lavender. These showy, fragrant flowers bloom throughout summer, where their rounded pinkish flowerheads contrast with evergreen foliage in warm climates.

Egyptian star flowers are suitable for growing in USDA zones 9 to 11.

Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

Texas lantanas are great Texas summer flowers that thrive in full sun and are heat tolerant

Texas lantana is a sun-loving perennial shrub for Texas gardens that has spectacular clusters of red, orange, and yellow flowers. Even in the hottest Texas summers, the small, tubular flowers thrive in full sun. The colorful blossoms contrast nicely with the aromatic lanceolate, rough leaves before developing into black berries.

Texas lantana shrubs grow 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) wide. The deciduous native Texas shrub with orange flowers thrives in hot, dry conditions. Additionally, it’s ideal for planting in full sun. The low-maintenance plant is perfect for a mixed border, cottage garden, ground cover, or wherever you want long-lasting blooms.

Texas lantana is suitable for growing in Central and Southern Texas in USDA zones 8 through 11.

Texas Petunia (Ruellia simplex)

Texas Petunia (Ruellia simplex)

The sun loving Texas petunia is a fast growing purple flowering plant that is evergreen in central and south Texas

Texas petunia is a shrubby perennial plant with trumpet-shaped lavender to violet flowers. The small bushy plant grows 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and 3 ft. (1 m) wide. In Central and South Texas, the purple-flowering plant is evergreen and thrives in moist, well-drained soils in full sun.

Also called Mexican petunia, this non-native plant has vigorous growth, and its spreading rhizomes can become invasive.


Zinnia elegans

Zinnia flowers add a stunning pop of color to sunny gardens in Texas

Zinnias are a large group of heat-loving, drought-tolerant annual flowers that bloom through the summer. The large eye-catching flowers can be double flowers with rounded flowerheads or open, disc-shaped flowers in shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, and purple. These low-maintenance flowers grow 2 to 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m).

Suitable for growing in all areas of Texas, from Amarillo in the north to the Gulf of Mexico, zinnias add plenty of color to southern front and backyards. The versatile annuals are ideal for planting in sunny mixed borders and containers.

Texas Coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)

Texas Coneflower (Rudbeckia texana)

Texas coneflowers are tall flowers that thrive in Texas heat and sun and add vertical accent to landscaped gardens

Texas coneflower is a yellow-flowering hardy perennial plant that thrives in Texas sun and heat. The showy golden yellow flowers are easily recognizable due to the drooping yellow petals and protruding conical center. These sun-loving flowers grow at the ends of erect stems growing up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall.

Yellow Texas coneflower flowers measure 1.77” (4.5 cm) tall and 0.60” (1.5 cm) wide. Ideal for planting in xeric landscapes, rock gardens, or mixed borders, Texas coneflowers add vertical accent, color, and texture to sun-drenched gardens.

You can grow Texas coneflowers in USDA zones 7 to 10 in well-drained soil. The plant is native to eastern Texas, where it grows naturally in wet prairies and blooms from late spring until late fall.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American beautyberry is a decorative shrub for sunny Texas gardens that provides interest with its summer flowers and purple berries

American beautyberry is a bushy shrub native to the sunny regions of the southeastern United States. It’s famed for its clusters of vibrant violet to magenta summer berries. Apart from its bright purple berries, identifying features of this deciduous shrub are its arching woody stems with small pink, violet, or white flowers contrasting with green, fuzzy leaves.

American beautyberry is a fast-growing shrub with a loose, open habit. The small flower clusters boom in early summer, followed by brightly colored berries in the fall and winter. Ideal for USDA zones 6 to 11 and full sun planting, this heat and drought-tolerant shrub grows 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall.

Texas Firecracker (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

Texas firecracker is a red flowering shrub for sunny and dry locations

Texas firecracker is a heat-loving tropical shrub that produces slender, bright fiery-colored tubular flowers. This native perennial shrub has red-orange flowers measuring 2” (5 cm) long and resembling honeysuckle blossoms. The masses of flowers contrast with the small lance-shaped leaves in summer and fall.

Texas firecracker grows 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and 4 ft. (1.2 m) wide. Ideal for hot, sunny Texas landscapes, the shrub thrives in heat and tolerates cold, drought, and humidity. Grow the flowering shrub as a specimen plant, accent shrub, flowering hedge, or in mass plantings. It’s also perfect for xeriscaping and low-water gardens in USDA zones 7 through 10.

Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii)

Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii)

Gregg’s mistflower is a native Texas flower that is drought tolerant and loves sun and heat

Gregg’s mistflower is a sun-loving perennial that thrives in all areas of Texas apart from the Panhandle. Identifying features of the native wildflower are its fuzzy pale purple flowers growing on erect stems, palmate leaves, and low growth. Also called palm-leaf mist flower, the native plant grows 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall.

Ideal for USDA zones 7 to 10, Gregg’s mistflower is a useful landscaping plant for growing in full sun to partially shaded garden beds, borders, or containers. The plant thrives in hot, dry conditions and is drought-tolerant once established.

Yellow Bird of Paradise Shrub (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Yellow Bird of Paradise Shrub (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Yellow bird of paradise shrub produces attractive flowers and is a great addition to sunny gardens in central and south Texas

The yellow bird of paradise shrub is an unusual sun-loving, drought-tolerant ornamental shrub with spectacular five-petaled yellow flowers. The unique feature of the showy flower clusters is their bright reddish-pink wiry stamens. Yellow bird of paradise shrub grows 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 – 3 m) tall and wide.

The fast-growing shrub is perfect for sunny landscapes in Central and South Texas. In addition, the resilient fast-growing shrub is ideal as a flowering hedge, accent shrub, wall-side border, or container plant.

Yellow bird of paradise shrub is suitable for growing in USDA zones 8 through 11.

Texas Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)

The pink flowering Texas rock rose shrub thrives in dry and sunny conditions

Texas rock rose is a native ornamental sun-loving perennial shrub with showy pink flowers. The highlight of the Texas rock rose is its hibiscus-like flowers with five papery pink or rose petals and prominent yellow stamens. These attractive 2” (5 cm) pink flowers contrast with the velvety dark green foliage that forms irregular bushy mounds.

The showy Texas shrub grows 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and wide. The low-maintenance ornamental plant is an ideal drought-tolerant shrub for rock gardens, xeriscapes, or informal mixed borders. It also performs well as a foundation planting on the sunny side of a house.

Texas rock rose is suitable for growing in USDA zones 7 through 10.

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