What Are Sun Worshipers (Flowering Shrubs for Sun)

 What Are Sun Worshipers (Flowering Shrubs for Sun)

Roses are the most popular sun-loving flowering shrub. There are so many different types of roses (hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, miniflora, etc.) and rose cultivars that they need and deserve an article of their own, so they are not discussed here.

Some sun-loving flowering shrubs are not evergreen, but some are. Below, I'll discuss some of each. Just a handful of the stunning flowering shrubs that might enhance your environment are listed above. Some are tropical. Most of them are not.


Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is available in blue/purple & white. My personal favorite is the blue plumbago. They are considered perennials because they cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. In zones 8b and 9a, it may die back to the ground in a hard freeze but will return to the roots once temperatures begin to warm.

They need sun, acidic soil, and good drainage. It is generally disease-free, and its main problem is overwatering. Plumbago is native to South Africa but can be found along the US Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. The plus for them is that they are very easy to propagate.
In areas where it does not die back in the winter and must start over each spring, it can grow up to 6 feet tall. They can hide an unsightly sight or provide a beautiful privacy screen.

Loropetalum (Chinese Fringe Plant)

Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense) is available with flowers that are often seen in fuchsia, dark red and white. If you choose loropetalum for your landscape, make sure you have room to grow it into a large, beautiful shrub.

It is available in several sizes, but the dwarf variety will also grow 6-10 feet tall. So, keep in mind that the word "dwarf" is relative when it comes to shrubs and trees. This plant may have beautiful flowers and leaves, is evergreen, and is inexpensive, so it is widely cultivated in many regions.

It is used by builders and developers who often plant a very large number of shrubs in a small space. They often use loropetalum because it is inexpensive (retail prices start around $16 for a 1-gallon pot), plus they get a discount from the contractor.
Our landscaper placed fourteen of them in a small area in front of our former home in Florida. This would require frequent mowing, thus providing a high maintenance landscaping package, which we did not want. I moved one to the side yard, one to the back yard, and gave the other twelve away.

Panicle Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are the most sun-tolerant of the hydrangeas, making them a favorite among those of us who lack shade in our yards. They are available in shades from off-white to “Living Pink and Rose,” “Vanilla-Strawberry,” and many more. Keep in mind that these are trademarked varieties, so while you can't advertise and sell them, you can safely give cuttings to a friend, relative or neighbor.

It is perhaps the most cold and heat tolerant of the hydrangeas, and is also drought tolerant. In zones 3 to 6, they can get full sun all day, but in zones 7 to 9, they should be protected from strong afternoon sun.
Hydrangeas bloom on new wood. For this reason, any pruning should be done in late winter, after the danger of freeze has passed, but before new growth begins. Pruning too late will kill the flower buds.

Confederate Rose

Confederate rose (Hibiscus metamorphos), also known as "Giant Rose Mallow," is just one of a group of hardy hibiscus shrubs. The gorgeous flowers are double and can reach 4-6 inches in diameter. It is another large shrub: usually 6-15 feet (180-450 cm) tall and 6-10 feet (180-300 cm) wide.
These large, showy flowers start their lives white, shown below, and change color to beautiful pink (above) over the course of three days. When they die and begin producing seeds, they turn an almost dark blue-pink color.

Hardiness of Confederate Rose

While it is hardy in zones 7-11, in zones 7-8 it usually dies back to the ground in the winter, then returns by the roots in the spring. In both zones 9 and 10, it behaves like a perennial and rarely dies unless there is a hard freeze, which can and sometimes does happen in zone 9a.
Confederate roses need full sun and moist but well-drained soil. It is deer resistant, but can be attacked by aphids, mealybugs and scale insects.

Forsythia (Yellow Bells)

Forsythia (Forsythia viridissima) Common name, yellow bells, add brilliant early color to the spring garden. It is a slender shrub that blooms in late winter, then produces bright green leaves that turn beautiful colors in the fall. I was surprised to learn that it belongs to the same plant family (Oleaceae) as olives.
Forsythia can be grown in zones 5-9. Even as far north as Birmingham and Atlanta, it usually opens in February. This shrub can reach ten feet tall and ten feet wide. It needs full sun and plenty of room to grow in the garden.


Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) is a long-lived evergreen shrub with beautiful waxy flowers and a pleasant intoxicating scent, but it can be overwhelming if you plant too many plants together. Gardenia is often referred to as "Cape Jasmine." It is hardy in Zones 8-11. These shrubs can easily reach 8-10 feet tall and about 6-8 feet wide.

Gardenias generally do not need pruning unless they are planted in a space that is too small for their large, bushy growth habit. It blooms in the spring, so do not prune any time after August, or you will remove next year's flower buds that have already begun to form.
To prepare for freezing winter temperatures, mulch the soil heavily. Cover if temperatures are expected to reach 15 or below.

There are others, too many to cover here

There are many sun-loving flowering shrubs. Some are tropical. There is not much. Unfortunately, there is no space to discuss all of these matters here. Among these:

Azalea (Rhododendron spp.) Zones 6–9
Hardy Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllu) Zone 4–7
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) Zones 4–9
Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) Zones 3–8
Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) Zones 4–9
Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) Zones 3–8a
Lilac, Zones 2–7
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) Zones 5–9
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Zones 9–11
Weigela (Weigela spp) Zones 4–8
Sunshine Bluebeard (Caryopteris incana) Zones 5–11

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