Sun vs. shade: Know before you plant
Updated On: May 17 2012 10:18:04 AM CDT
By Erica Glasener, Networx
When it comes to gardening successfully, selecting the right plant for the right place is key. To determine what the right place in your landscape is for your plants, you need to familiarize yourself with what conditions individual plants need to thrive. Look for labels when you purchase plants that state the desired amount of light required i.e.: full sun, shade or part shade. These are broad terms and the intensity of the sun varies according to what part of the country you live in and what season it is. Afternoon sun is brighter than morning sun and certain plants are more likely to be stressed by afternoon sun.
Full sunshine, especially in coastal areas, is unfiltered sunshine for 6 or more hours per day. In mountainous areas, full sun is usually from morning until sunset. In other areas, full sun is unfiltered sunlight for 8 or more hours per day. Roses are an example (with a few exceptions, some roses will grow in partial shade) of plants that require full sun to thrive and produce the maximum number of blooms.
Part sun or part shade in coastal areas is when sunlight is filtered all day through mature pines that are tall or hardwoods including oaks, maples or tulip poplars or, sunlight that shines directly for 3 hours during the time between sunrise and noon.
In mountainous areas, part sun means 5 hours of direct sun between sunrise and noon. In other areas, part sun is defined as direct sunlight for part of the day or partial sun all day (such as under high pine trees). Deciduous woodland is perfect for growing spring flowering bulbs like daffodils or spring ephemerals like trilliums and spring beauties. The sun bakes the soil all winter and in early spring before new leaves emerge on the trees. Many perennial wildflowers are spring ephemerals (with a short growth cycle). They grow, bloom and set seed in spring and then die back to the ground in summer when light is reduced and they are shaded from hot sun. Daffodil foliage stays around a bit longer until it turns yellow and then brown before it disappears.
For gardens that receive part shade in the spring (under deciduous trees) early flowering shrubs are also a good choice, so that they receive enough light when they are setting flower buds and blooming. Remember that most blooming plants require a minimum amount of sunlight to flower. If your garden is dark from shade, not much will grow or bloom.
Full shade in coastal gardens occurs when an area is shaded all day by evergreen trees including live oaks and magnolias. In mountainous regions full shade means that plants only received occasional direct sun during the day or dappled shade (all day) under deciduous trees like dogwoods, redbuds or crabapples. Even without flowers your shade garden can be colorful if you use plants with variegated foliage including selections of ferns, variegated Solomon's seal and plants like Carex ‘Evergold’ with grassy-like foliage that is green and white. For maximum impact, plant combinations that include different types of foliage and flowers for every season.