The Importance of Understanding Available Sun for Your Garden

By Harry Harvey Apr16,2022


Gardening is a very complex activity. Apart from the moisture, soil structure, and other aspects, you need to understand the sun requirements for your garden. If it seems too complex you can search for “landscape companies near me” and let professionals beautify your garden. Otherwise, you need to understand the importance of the available sun for your garden. Let’s check it out.

The Details

  1. Exposure terminology – All plants need sunlight. However, they need it at varying levels. You’ll see those varying levels marked with nursery tags when you go shopping for a few plants. It’s important to understand what those terms mean.

If you see a plant tagged ‘full sun’, it means that plant needs as much sunlight as it can get. It requires at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day. Some nurseries use icons instead of naming the sun exposure. If you see the icon of the sun, it generally means that the plant requires full sun.

If a plant requires around 3 to 6 hours of direct sun exposure every day, it needs ‘part sun’. However, certain part sun plants can also be considered full sun plants. These plants would be tagged with a sun icon with a small fraction of it shaded.

When you see the ‘part shade’ tag you may get confused since it also requires around 3 to 6 hours of direct sun. However, the distinction lies in its requirement for protection against the intense midday sun that shines from 10 am to 3 pm. That means the plant needs to be at a location that gets the full sun at dawn or evening while being shaded for the most part of the day. The icon for part shade is usually the icon of the sun that is mostly shaded.

‘Full shade’ or just ‘shade’ refers to plants that need less than 3 hours of direct sun. For these plants, the ideal location is usually under the canopy of a larger tree. Full shade is represented with a fully shaded sun icon.

  1. Signs your plant is getting a lot of sun – Overexposing your plants to the sun is very easy since you just have to plant them on the ground with no obstruction or shade. If your plant is getting too much sun, there would be brown patches on the sides of the leaves. If you notice the damage early on and move it to a suitable location, the plant can be protected.

However, it can get confusing when you bring a plant from the nursery, start growing it indoors, shift it to a suitable location and still find burned brown patches on the leaves. When this happens it’s highly likely that the plant may have been kept in a shaded location before it was sold. The sudden change in exposure levels shocks the plant and may cause burning patches. That’s why you have to take a measured approach and slowly introduce the plant from indoors to the outside.

  1. Signs your plant isn’t getting enough sun – New gardeners also have a tough time figuring out if their plants are getting enough sun. Healthy plants are part of the ecosystem and would invite bugs to feed on them or make them their home. If you’ve been watering your plants regularly and there are no bugs anywhere near the plant, it may not be receiving enough sun exposure. Moreover, when the plant doesn’t get enough sun, it wouldn’t be able to make enough food. The leaves would transition to a dull green and yellow color till they fall off and the plant has a hard time growing new leaves.

Fortunately, most plants are extremely tough and if you can notice the signs quickly enough and take appropriate steps, you can revive them. Relocate the plant to a suitable location where it can get more direct sun. Within weeks the plant should start taking a healthy green hue, grow thicker stems, and more leaves.

  1. Figuring out exposure levels – While you know how to identify the different levels of sun exposure required by your plants, it’s more important to apply that knowledge to figure out the levels of sun exposure across your property. However, you’ll need to take a day off to figure this out. It works in your favor if you’re working from home. Otherwise, you need to dedicate a weekend to this activity.

Start by walking around your property every couple of hours throughout the day. Start early in the morning, go out again in mid-morning, walk around during the early afternoon, and other parts of the day till the sun goes down. Notice which areas remain sunny for the most part of the day and which areas remain shady. Instead of relying on your memory, take pictures with timestamps of different parts of your yard. This helps you create an exposure map of your property and accurately choose the location for each plant.

  1. Indoor Exposure – Apart from caring for your outdoor plants, you need to take care of your indoor plants as well. The same knowledge of sun exposure applies to them. However, adjusting the right levels of exposure to indoor conditions is a bit more difficult. The sunniest locations of your home are usually the south-facing windows unless there’s a large obstruction in front of them.

Place your full sun indoor plants at these windows. The next best location is east-facing windows, and most houseplants would love this location. If any of your houseplants require indirect sunlight, place them right next to your east-facing or south-facing windows.


Understanding sun exposure on various parts of your property and the varying needs of your garden plants is very important to keep them alive and healthy. That means you need to assess your property and do a lot of research on each plant in your garden. If that sounds too tiring or cumbersome you can search for “landscape companies near me” and leave it to the professionals.

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