Light Conditions for Planting and What to Plant in Them

By Beth Luck, Tin Roof Garden

Full sun: at least 6 to 8 full hours of direct sunlight. Many sun-loving plants can tolerate more than 6 hours per day but need to be watered regularly to endure mid-summer (July through August) heat. Annuals that tolerate full sun: verbena, lantana, geraniums, petunias, marigolds, thunbergia. Perennials that tolerate full sun: yarrow, silver mound, butterfly weed, coreopsis, cone flowers, salvia.

Partial sun/partial shade: these terms are often used interchangeably to indicate 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight, preferably morning and early afternoon sun, daily. Morning and early afternoon sun are less harsh than the afternoon sun, especially in the summer months.
Annuals that tolerate part sun/part shade: bacopa, ivy, torenia, fuschia, impatiens, begonias. Perennials that tolerate part sun/part shade: Jacob’s ladder, hostas, coral bells, perennial geranium, lamium.

Dappled sun: less light than the limited direct exposure of partial shade. This is the sunlight that makes it through a canopy of deciduous trees. Think of the plants you would see growing in the woods, ferns, lady slippers, trillium, etc.
Annuals that tolerate dappled sun: fuschia, ivy, begonias, coleus, streptocarpus, cyclamen.
Perennials that tolerate dappled sun: hostas, coral bells, columbine, ferns, brunnera.

Full shade: less than 3 hours of direct sunlight daily, with filtered/dappled sun during the rest of the day. Full shade does not mean no sun. There are not many plants, except mushrooms, that can survive in the dark.
Annuals that tolerate full shade: ferns, ivy, cyclamen.
Perennials that tolerate full shade: ligularia, bergenia, ivy, ferns.

Tips regarding planting and sunlight:

  • When you are planning out a garden, keep track of the amount of sun the location receives throughout the day and pick plants according to the descriptions above.
  • If you are planting in the spring before the trees have leaves, make sure to take into consideration where trees, when they do get leaves, will shade your plantings and for how many hours per day.
  • Spring sun is not as intense as summer sun, it still being a bit further away, and this is why shade-loving plants can be planted in spring in locations that might receive more light while the sun is low and there are no leaves on the trees.
  • Plant according to the light conditions you expect to see at the end of May and throughout the rest of the summer.
  • The amount of change in light conditions throughout the growing season due to the movement of the sun does not affect the growth of a plant if it is planted in the correct location from the start.

For more information, stop in Tin Roof Garden at 5310 Friedeck Road, Eau Claire, visit http://tinroofgarden.com/, or call 715-834-4232.