All About the Flowers: Sun, Type, Use

The sun is out, and plants are starting to put on noticeable growth which means flower buds are transforming into beautiful blooms.

We are here to help you grow what makes you feel good. So here is your guide to the magnificent variety of flowering plants that are waiting to bring you happiness this season, and beyond.

Sun Exposure – Why Does it Matter and What Does it Mean?

When growing any plant, especially if it flowers or fruits, it is important to find out the plants preferred sun exposure. Making sure you grow it where it receives the right amount of sun will help the plant reach its full potential, and ultimately make you happy too.

Every plant you see at a nursery will (or should) have a label or tag with the plant information. On that tag, the preferred sun exposure will be listed; sometimes it is typed out, sometimes there are symbols.

So before choosing your plants, you should have an idea of how much sun exposure your growing area receives.

  • Full Sun – at least 6 hours a day of direct sunlight; shown as a full yellow sun symbol.
  • Part Sun – No more than 4 hours a day of direct sun or dappled sun created by tall trees; the tag may list a full sun symbol and a sun that is half yellow and half black.
  • Part Shade – The plant benefits from afternoon shade or all day dappled sun; shown as a sun that is half yellow and half black, sometimes with an additional sun that is full black.
  • Shade – No more than 2 hours a day of sunlight, best if it is morning or early afternoon sun exposure; shown as a black sun.

Annuals vs. Perennials

We’re going to keep it really simple here.

Annual Plants

These are what you enjoy for one growing season. But don’t stray from their relatively short-lived show! Some annual plants offer beneficial functions like attracting pollinators, pest traps, and enhancing flavors of edible plants. These benefits make them great for interplanting in the vegetable garden, as well as growing in containers.

Perennial Plants

These you can plant once and they’ll come back in their season of interest, year after year. Herbaceous perennials in particular are plants that will appear to die back to the ground, mainly in late fall, and leave just a short stub of growth barely emerging above the soil line through winter. When spring returns, new growth begins to rise.

There is great diversity in these two groups, and we’re here to help you navigate all the options!

Creating Colorful Containers

Once you’ve determined the amount of sun your growing area receives, the search begins! Consider a mix of annuals and perennials so your containers will look lively year-round.

When it comes to planting containers, utilize the thriller-filler-spiller strategy for a fabulously voluptuous look.


These are plants that add a vertical element to create drama and viewed from all sides. Use either flowering or foliage plants, or ornamental grasses.


Choose plants with a rounded or mounded form to create a full container look. Plant these in front of or around the ‘thriller’ plant.


Place these close to edge of the container so they gracefully spill down and hang over the edge of the planter.

Sun-Loving Combinations




Shade-Loving Combinations




Find our more care tips on container gardening in our blog, Growing Guidance for Container Gardening with Shrubs and More.

Planting a color bowl is a super fun activity to do with your kids, your friends, or your Mom. Watch this video to see what to do from start to finish!

Note: A very important step didn’t get featured in this video, and that is to WATER. It’s best to water the plants before planting, then water the whole container after you have planted and filled with soil!

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