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Tree health care professionals of Florida explain levels of sun exposure and what plants and trees require.

Does Full or Partial Sun Exposure Really Affect Plant Growth?

When a person decides to go pick out a few new plants for their yard, they can be overwhelmed by all of the horticultural instructions that come with each plant. Shade, soil, moisture level, and nutrients are all part of what helps plants grow, and, of course, different species of plants grow best in different conditions. There is not a panacea for plant growth, but almost every plant needs some amount of sun. 

Defining Terminology

When you are looking at the information tag on a plant, it will usually describe the plant’s sunlight preferences in one of four ways: full sun, partial sun, partial shade, and full shade. Likewise, some plants can go from partial sun to partial shade or some other combination. 

What do these terms actually mean, though? The guidelines surrounding these terms are actually quite specific.

  • Full Sun: This involves 6 to 8 hours a day of direct sunlight. Most flowering and fruit-bearing plants need full sun to produce the aforementioned flowers and fruit.
  • Partial Sun: This level of sunlight requires 4 to 6 hours of direct sun. These tend to do better getting sun first thing in the morning or in the very late afternoon. They can be scorched or wilted by direct exposure to the 10 am to 2 pm intense sunlight.
  • Partial Shade: These plants can take a couple of hours of direct sunlight in the morning, but do better when sunlight is filtered through the leaves of a tree.  This can also be called “dappled sunlight.”
  • Full Shade: Plants that require full shade are those that do best in woodland areas. A forest floor carries all the nutrients and the sun can only reach these plants through the branches of the trees.

What Does It Mean for Plants?

Plants are often quite adaptable when it comes to sun exposure as long as they have the other things they need. There are certainly exceptions to this. If a plant says full sun, planting it underneath a shade tree will likely just lead to a slow death for it. Again, fruit trees, vines, and flowers will not produce if there is too much shade around them. 

They need full sun to reach their full potential. So, while there is some wiggle room for planting, sun exposure is an important factor in choosing what to plant.

Choosing the Right Plants and Trees for your Yard

After determining the sun exposure that your yard gets, you can proceed with picking out the appropriate plants for your yard. Listed below are a few examples of aesthetically pleasing landscaping plants according to their sun requirements.

Full Sun:

  • Petunias
  • Russian Sage
  • Marigolds
  • Peonies
  • Black-Eyed Susans

Partial Sun:

  • Begonias
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lavender
  • Wood Lilies

Partial Shade:

  • Hostas
  • Ferns
  • Lungworts
  • Solomon’s seals

Full Shade:

  • Violas or Johnny Jump-Ups
  • Canadian Wild Ginger
  • Toad Lily
  • Brunnera

About Any Town Tree

Locally owned and operated out of Naples, FL, Any Town Tree is a full tree service company that does everything from trimming to stump grinding. Call our reliable staff for information on our free quotes and reasonable rates today.