How much sunshine does the garden need? Full sunlight, partial sunlight, full shadow, partial shadow? These are discarded terms. The fact is that they are somewhat subjective and change according to many environmental factors. That is, you can follow some basic rules to understand them and confidently plant a healthy garden.

raised garden bed

How much sun does the garden need?

Like tiny solar panels, chloroplasts in plant cells drive growth. Plants have evolved for millions of years to adapt to their niche. Some have adapted to abundant sunshine and hot climate, such as cacti in the desert, while others have adapted to grow under the shadow of dense forest canopy. For example, if you put a "Japanese painted" fern in a sunny place in Phoenix, Arizona, it is not surprising that you will soon be completely burnt to coke. Research and experience tell us that the best place for plants to grow is determined according to the amount of light required for plants to thrive.

To make it easier for plant shoppers to choose plants, seed packs and garden labels provide basic growth information for thousands of different plants available for purchase. Similarly, the online catalog also emulates and labels the plants with general care requirements. These labels tell us everything a plant may need, from how much water it needs and when to feed it to how much sunlight or shade it likes.

But what does the suggestion of sunshine and shadow really mean? Let's define each of these terms.

Full Sun

Sufficient sunshine is like this: at least six hours of sunshine every day, preferably in the afternoon. No trees, buildings or shade of any kind - these plants need the energy of the sun to shine on their leaves all day long to thrive.

Full day plants usually include many bright and colorful flowers, such as Echinacea purpurea (also known as golden chrysanthemum), sunflower and marigold, as well as many trees, shrubs and grass.

Other common plants that are almost all day long are vegetables. Tomatoes, corn, pumpkins and other vegetables need a lot of solar energy to grow huge fruits, seeds, leaves and stems. If you want to grow vegetables, but your garden has less than eight hours of sunshine every day, please plant small fruit varieties. Cherry tomatoes such as "Sun Gold Hybrid" and ornamental plants such as "Mini Harvest Hybrid Blend" pumpkin are much smaller, and may grow under insufficient light.

raised garden bed

Partial Sun and Partial Shade

What is partial sunlight and how is it different from partial shadows? Generally speaking, plants that like partial sunlight are those that need about two to four hours of sunlight every day. These plants like sunshine and can usually tolerate afternoon sunshine - especially in northern gardens. Common plants may include Hosta plants, lamium and heuchera (also known as coral bell).

Similarly, some shade plants also need about three to six hours of sunshine every day, but they prefer to be sheltered in the afternoon sun. These plants may include "ostrich" ferns, pulmonaria and novelty.

When you see "partial sunlight" or "partial shadow" on the seed package, you know that too much sunlight may hinder their growth or cause serious burning.

Full Shade

Although this seems to be an obvious choice, plants that are best suited for full shade still require considerable light - that is, diffuse or mottled light. These are wild plants growing in canyons, north slopes and under the shade of trees. In nature, they usually receive a lot of bright, indirect light from the sun, and in the garden, they perform best in similar locations.

These locations also receive and retain moisture due to low ambient temperatures and lack of evaporation. For example, the north side of the house without trees is a good place for shade lovers like Bloody Heart. The shade produced by shade trees may also be considered as complete shade, but remember that trees and anything planted under them will compete for root space and water. Cyperus and other plants with fiber roots, such as "Feather Waterfall" Carex, are very suitable for these conditions. Speaking of sunshade, you have many choices.

When you begin to consider the requirements of plants for sunlight and shade, it seems to be a difficult task to find suitable plants in your garden, but according to the instructions on the seed package or label, your garden will certainly flourish.

December 06, 2022

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