Small Flowering Shrubs For Full Sun (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Small Flowering Shrubs For Full Sun

Small flowering, sun-loving shrubs add a pop of color and floral scents to any sunny garden landscape. Decorative shrubs for full sun that only grow a few feet tall bloom with flowers in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Small shrubs with lush green foliage and blossoms in shades of yellow, red, white, pink, and purple are ideal for brightening gardens in spring, summer, and fall.

Choosing the best dwarf shrubs for growing in full sun is vital. Intense sunshine and many hours of sunlight can cause flowers and leaves on some bushy plants to wilt and get scorched leaves. Typically, small shrubs for full sun can tolerate sunshine for most of the day. Shrubs for partial sun may require some light shade at midday.

This article is a guide to picking suitable small shrubs under 6 ft. (1.8 m) tall for sunny gardens. To identify sun-tolerant dwarf shrubs, pictures and descriptions of low-growing bushy plants will help you decide on the best ones to plant in your landscape.

What Are Shrubs for Full Sun?

Small shrubs for full sun typically require between six and eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Full sun shrubs generally require plenty of watering and some shade from the intense midday sun in hot climates. Dwarf shrubs classed as partial sun can get by with four to six hours of sunshine.

How to Choose Small Flowering Shrubs for Full Sun

When selecting small flowering shrubs for a sunny landscape, you should consider a few factors. The first factor is levels of sunlight. The planting location should get around six hours of sunlight. Next, pick small shrubs suitable for your USDA growing zone, soil type, and moisture levels. 

It’s also a good idea to think about the level of care needed to grow the dwarf shrubs. Generally, low-growing shrubs have compact growth and require little pruning. However, some sun-loving small bushes need regular watering and fertilizing to ensure healthy blooming throughout the season.

Types of Small Flowering Shrubs for Full Sun (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Small flowering shrubs provide eye-catching floral displays in sunny gardens. Small flowering shrubs for full sun can have evergreen or deciduous foliage. The colorful blossoms stand out against dark green leaves and accent taller landscaping shrubs. Smaller sun-loving shrubs are ideal for planting in groups, containers, border planting, or foundation plants.

Small Azalea Shrubs for Full Sun (Rhododendron spp.)


Flowering Azalea shrubs include small cultivars that will give stunning color to sunny gardens

Dwarf azalea shrubs are small sun-loving flowering plants with showy trumpet-shaped colorful blooms. Azalea flowers blossom in shades of purple, red, yellow, pink, and multicolored petals. The small, rounded shrubs thrive in sunny conditions, with some partial shade required in the hottest climates.

Small azalea shrubs typically grow 2 to 6 ft. (0.6 – 1.8 m) tall. There are also varieties of azaleas to suit growing in USDA zones from 3 to 10. The reliable flowering shrubs are ideal for landscaping borders, creating small hedges, or growing as accent plants. 

In a sunny landscape, azaleas are also spectacular when planted as foundation plants or growing in large containers on patios, decking, or balconies.

USDA growing zones: 3 to 7

Soil: Acidic, well-drained soil that is constantly moist

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade and dappled sunlight

Hydrangea Shrubs for Growing in Full Sun

Potted hydrangea

Hydrangea shrubs include sun-tolerant small cultivars with stunning flowers in a wide array of colors

Small hydrangea shrubs are deciduous flowering plants with large globose or umbrella-shaped flowerheads. Hydrangea flowers can be shades of blue, red, pink, purple, white, and multi-colors. In addition, small hydrangea shrubs feature large dark-green glossy leaves making up a large mound of lush foliage. Dwarf hydrangeas grow 2 to 6 ft. (0.6 – 1.8 m) tall.

Small hydrangeas typically have compact growth and large, showy flowers. The sun-loving flowering hydrangea shrubs tolerate some shade and bloom throughout the summer. However, in hot, humid climates like Florida, hydrangeas are classed as shrubs for partial shade.

In a sunny landscape, you can easily grow small hydrangea shrubs along a foundation line, as a deciduous flowering hedge, or in containers. Their spectacular flowers make hydrangea shrubs ideal as accent plants in small gardens.

USDA growing zones: 3 to 9 (check individual cultivars)

Soil: Average, evenly moist soil that drains well

Sun exposure: Full sun or dappled shade

Small Flowering Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

Potentilla fruticosa shrub

Potentilla fruticosa is a small shrub with pretty yellow flowers for full sun or part shade

Shrubby cinquefoil is a sun-loving, compact, bushy shrub identified by its bright yellow flowers and small pinnate bluish-green leaves. The attractive feature of potentilla shrubs is their masses of yellow flowers covering the plant. With a long blooming season, this easy-care shrub blooms from spring until fall.

Shrubby cinquefoil grows 2 to 4 ft. (0.6 – 1.2 m) tall and up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide. The low-maintenance small shrub is ideal for an informal hedge, foundation plant, grouping in borders, or as a single specimen plant.

USDA growing zones: 3 to 7 

Soil: Most soil types, including poor soils, as long as they are well-drained

Sun exposure: Full sun or part shade

Sun-Loving Flowering Dwarf Spirea Shrubs

Flowering Spirea Shrubs

The stunning flowers of dwarf spirea shrubs create an attractive front of house landscape for full sun

Small spirea shrubs thrive in full sun and produce spectacular blooms of conical flower clusters. The flowering spikes on spirea shrubs blossom in shades of white, red, purple, and pink. In addition, the deciduous leaves turn warm hues of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. 

Flowering Spirea shrubs are hardy and easy to care for in a sunny garden. The small flowering shrubs grow 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and wide. These bushy landscaping plants are ideal for hedges, borders, foundation plantings, or adding color as a specimen plant. 

USDA growing zones: 3 – 8 

Soil: Average moisture, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun

Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

erica carnea winter heath

The ornamental small winter heath shrub is grown for its evergreen foliage and purple flowers and is suitable for full sun

Winter heath is a hardy, low-growing shrub with purple flower spikes that bloom throughout winter. The small evergreen shrub for full sun is characterized by upright stems with small needle-like leaves. The tops of the leafy stems bloom with masses of urn-shaped flowers. 

Winter heath grows 1 to 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall. Its spreading and clumping habit makes the colorful shrub ideal for ground cover in sunny locations. Other landscaping uses for winter heath include planting in groups, along borders and driveways, or growing in containers. 

Some winter heath cultivars also bloom with small white, bell-shaped flowers.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 7

Soil: Acidic, sandy, well-drained soils with medium moisture

Sun exposure: Full sun in most areas and part shade in the hottest climates

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

The low growing sweetspire flowering shrub is great for landscaping sunny compact spaces

Virginia sweetspire is an eye-catching small white flowering shrub with arching bottlebrush flowers 4” to 6” (10 – 15 cm) long. When in bloom during spring, Virginia sweetspire is a mass of creamy white flowers. For best blooming and dense, compact growth, plant small sweetspire shrubs in full sun. 

The creamy white dwarf shrub grows up to 3 ft. (1 m) tall. Also called Virginia willow, the sun-loving deciduous perennial shrub has three-season interest in landscapes. In the fall, the foliage turns impressive purple to rich red colors. 

Plant Virginia sweetspire in groups as a flowering hedge, shrub border, foundation plant, or to create attractive ground cover. Because the small shrub thrives in wet soils, it grows well around ponds or streams. 

USDA growing zones: 5 to 9

Soil: Medium to wet, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun to shade

Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)

Fothergilla gardenii

Dwarf fothergilla flowering shrub can grow in full or partial sun

Dwarf fothergilla is a sun-loving ornamental shrub identified by honey-scented, white bottlebrush flowers measuring up to 2” (5 cm) long. The spiky white fragrant flowers contrast with the lush green foliage. The perennial low-growing shrub also has attractive fall colors when its leaves turn red, yellow, or orange. 

As a small, dense, bushy, spreading shrub, dwarf fothergilla has many uses in a sunny landscape. You can plant the shrub as a low, flowering hedge, foundation planting, or perennial border. For the best flowering effect, plant the small shrub where it gets the most sunshine possible.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 8

Soil: Moist, rich, acidic soils that have excellent drainage. 

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial sun

Lavender (Lavandula)

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) requires full sun and well-drained soil

Lavender is an aromatic small shrubby plant with erect stems of purple or lilac flowers. Apart from its woody fragrance, lavender is identified by its slender gray-green leaves, spikes of purple flowers, and floral aromas. Thriving in full sun, lavender blooms throughout the summer and grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall. 

Landscaping uses for lavender include planting along a foundation line, in containers, herb gardens, rock gardens, and creating purple ground cover in sunny spots

USDA growing zones: 5 to 9

Soil: Light, sandy soil that is dry to medium and has excellent drainage

Sun exposure: Full sun



There are several varieties of dwarf flowering forsythia shrubs that are great for small sunny gardens

Forsythia is a compact spreading yellow-flowering shrub that blooms with masses of yellow flowers in early spring. Several yellow forsythia cultivars are small shrubs with brightly-colored four-petaled flowers and dark green leaves. The full-sun-loving shrub has a three-season aesthetic appeal in a sunny landscape.

The eye-catching feature of forsythia shrubs in a winter landscape is their early blooming time. The striking yellow flowers appear in late winter on bare stems. 

You can plant small yellow forsythia shrubs in mass plantings, as a perennial flowering hedge, in mixed borders, or along a foundation line. 

USDA growing zones: 5 to 7 

Soil: Well-drained soils with medium moisture

Sun exposure: Full sun or part sun

Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

Rhaphiolepis indica

Indian hawthorn is a small evergreen sun loving shrub with pink or white flowers. This image shows Rhaphiolepis indica cv. ‘Ballerina’

Indian hawthorn is a small sun loving flowering evergreen shrub with attractive pinkish-white spring flowers growing on a rounded bush. The clusters of tiny, fragrant blossoms contrast with the dark-green, leathery, serrated lance-shaped leaves. As a prized landscaping shrub, dwarf Indian hawthorn grows 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) tall. 

The beauty of Indian hawthorn is that it’s easily grown in sunny gardens. The robust small shrub with sun-tolerant flowers and foliage is ideal as a flowering hedge, shrub border, foundation planting, or a potted plant in a container garden.

USDA growing zones: 8 – 11 

Soil: Consistently moist soil that drains well

Sun exposure: Full sun

Small Viburnum Shrubs for Full Sun

Dwarf Walter’s viburnum obovatum

Dwarf Walter’s viburnum obovatum is a low growing evergreen shrub with white flowers in spring followed by small reddish-black fruit in summer

Dwarf viburnum shrubs are identified by their spectacular clusters of star-shaped white flowers, bright red fruits, and green, ovate leaves. The small ornamental shrubs provide color in all three seasons in sunny climates. Landscaping features of the small shrub include white flowers in spring, coppery leaves that turn green in summer and wine-red in the fall, and clusters of red berries.

Small viburnum shrubs grow 1 to 5 ft. (0.3 – 1.5 m) tall and wide. Due to their tolerance to heat, humidity, and sun, the shrubs are popular in Florida landscapes. In addition, the wonderful fragrance of the shrubs adds to their aesthetic appeal growing in shrub borders, hedges, screens, and along a foundation line. 

USDA growing zones: 4 to 8

Soil: Medium moisture, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun or partial shade

Shrub Roses (Rosa)

Shrub Roses (Rosa)

Shrub roses include many small cultivars with various flower colors and shapes that are suitable for full sun

Shrub roses are small shrubs producing some of the showiest flowers in a sun-drenched landscape. Rose flowers are characterized by their multiple ruffled petals growing in rosette shapes, thorny woody stems, and intense fragrances. Shrub roses usually bloom throughout the summer. The shrubby woody plants grow 3 to 6 ft. (1 – 1.8 m) tall.

There are varieties of shrub roses to suit all sunny garden landscapes. The easy-grow dwarf flowering shrubs perform well in beds and borders. Due to their thorny stems, they are suitable for planting under windows for security. In addition, their repeated blooming makes them excellent cut flowers throughout the season. 

USDA growing zones: 5 to 9

Soil: Rich, fertile, moist soils with excellent drainage

Sun exposure: Full sun

Cavatine Dwarf Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)

Cavatine Dwarf Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’)

The small flowering Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’ shrub looks beautiful in any sunny front or backyard

The ‘Cavatine’ dwarf Japanese Pieris cultivar is famous for its masses of brilliant white flower clusters covering the small shrub. Up close, pictures of the small shrub’s flowers show they are urn-shaped like lily-of-the-valley flowers. These snow-white flowers contrast with the plant’s dark green lanceolate leaves. 

Small Japanese Pieris shrubs grow around 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall. The leathery foliage and white flowers thrive in three to six hours of direct sunlight. You can plant these attractive flowering shrubs to form a low border, add color to a mixed bed, or plant them in the front of your house.

USDA growing zones: 5 to 8

Soil: Fertile, acidic, well-draining soil

Sun exposure: Full sun to part shade

Dwarf Chenille (Acalypha Reptans)

Dwarf Chenille (Acalypha Reptans)

Dwarf chenille is a low growing evergreen flowering ground cover for full to partial sun

Dwarf chenille is a spreading evergreen shrub with attractive crimson red flower spikes, ovate, serrated leaves, and trailing stems. The low-growing shrub creates a carpet of green and bright red colors as it thrives in full sun. The exotic shrub performs best in hot, humid climates. 

Dwarf chenille grows 1 to 1.5 ft. (0.3 – 0.45 m) tall. Its red conical blossoms measure up to 3” (7.5 cm) long. 

The easy-to-grow, versatile shrub is ideal for flowering ground cover, foundation planting, or growing alongside a driveway or sidewalk. However, the trailing shrub does just as well in containers and hanging baskets

USDA growing zones: 9 to 11

Soil: Humus-rich, fertile soil that drains well

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial sun

Dwarf Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)

Callistemon viminalis little john

Callistemon viminalis ‘Little John’ (in the picture) is a small evergreen red flowering shrub for full sun to light shade

Dwarf bottlebrush shrubs are low-growing bushy plants with bristly, bright red flowers. The red-blooming evergreen shrub has a rounded habit, bluish-green pointed oval leaves, and blood-red flowering spikes. Thriving in full sun and tropical climates, the small shrub is perfect for compact sunny gardens. 

Small bottlebrush shrubs grow 3 ft. (1 m) tall and 5 ft. (1.5 m) wide.

The Callistemon viminalis ‘Little John’ cultivar is suitable for planting as a low evergreen hedge, foundation planting, or a container to add a pop of color to a patio or decking area. 

USDA growing zones: 8 to 12

Soil: Well-drained, acidic, moist soil

Sun exposure: Full sun to light shade

Dwarf Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Chickasaw Crape Myrtle

Chickasaw crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Chickasaw’) grows up to 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall and has masses of pink flowers

Dwarf crape myrtle shrubs with their masses of showy white, red, or pink flowers are stunning landscaping shrubs for full sun. The fast-growing small shrubs are ideal for planting in tropical landscapes. Identifying features of crape myrtle are their summer-long show blooms, reddish-green leaves, and compact growth. 

Small crape myrtle bushes grow 3 to 5 ft. (1 – 1.5 m) tall and wide. The sun-loving shrubs are easy to grow and are drought tolerant in hot climates. This small flowering shrub is perfect for containers, foundation plantings, or as a specimen plant to add visual appeal to a semi-tropical garden. 

USDA growing zones: 6 to 9

Soil: Medium moisture in average, well-drained soils

Sun exposure: Full sun

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