Friday, April 16, 2010

Seeing the Light

What kind of light do your plants get?
Not all kinds of shade are created equal. Understanding the difference in the kind of light your garden receives will make your plants very happy.

Degrees of Shade
Full shade, also known as deep shade, generally falls under the canopy of a tree or under the eaves of a building. The sky is largely blocked, and plants get only indirect light. Few garden plants tolerate full shade.

Partial Shade means full sun for part of the day and shade for part of the day. Timing alters the effects of partial shade. If the sun comes in the middle of the day, when sunlight is most intense, plants that prefer shade may struggle.

Dappled Shade, also called filtered shade, is a mix of sun and shade that occurs when sunlight passes between leaves or through an arbor or overhead lattice. Many plants that like full sun or full shade will also grow in dappled shade.

The plants themselves are the best measure to tell you if they need more or less light. Look for burned foliage, underwhelming growth or flowering, or a plant leaning toward the light. Being aware of the particular kinds of shade in your garden will help you achieve more success for your efforts.

Steve Aitken, Fine Gardening (

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