You’re looking at your plant tag to see if it’s a plant you can grow. It tells you your plant wants partial sun. Do you know what means? Do you have the right sun requirements to grow this plant?
There are a lot of different definitions of sun levels, and they can be just as confusing to beginning gardeners as they are to seasoned ones.
I put the sun into the following categories: Full Sun, Partial Sun / Partial Shade, Dappled Sun, Full Shade.
It’s a good idea to know your sun. I recommend monitoring your garden beds every hour, from 9-5 to keep from guessing how much sun or shade your garden receives. It’s also best to do this during times specific plants are growing. Daffodils, for example, grow and flower best in full sun, yet they do well under the canopy of a deciduous tree. If you base the amount of sun in that bed during the summer, you would fail to recognize that the area under the canopy will be sunny in spring when the bulbs are blooming, and before the tree leaves out.
Although determining if a location will meet your plant’s sun requirements is not an exact science, it will give you a good idea of each garden area’s situation. When you go plant shopping, know what plants grow where, making better purchasing choices.
Below are some common standards for sun exposure.
- Full Sun: Fun sun means 6 full hours of direct sunlight. Those six hours could be from 8 – 3 or 12 – 6; anytime during the day. These hours can also be three morning hours, plus three afternoon hours.
- Partial Sun / Partial Shade: These two terms are often interchangeable to mean 3-6 hours of sunlight each day. While the terms are interchangeable, there is a default understanding. Partial shade typically refers to morning and early afternoon sun, while a plant listed as partial sun, relief from the intense late afternoon sun is needed. This shade could be from a structure or the shade from an old oak tree.
- Dappled Sun: Dappled sunlight is my favorite kind of sun, if I had to choose. Dapple sun is similar to partial shade. The plants are getting partial sun as it makes it’s way through the branches of a deciduous tree. Woodland plants and under plantings, even for many mosses, prefer dappled sunlight more so than partial shade.
- Full Shade: Full shade means less than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day, best if it’s morning light. But even in the absence of direct sunlight, full shade can be a bright light. Plus, full shade likes a filtered sunlight the remainder of the day. Every plant needs some sun; even those that thrive in full shade.
Know your sun!