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Light Tips for Gardening

Sunny Garden Conditions

A garden with some sun exposure is a good thing; but you can't stop there. Read on to learn more about sunny garden conditions and how to get the right amount of light to your plants.

Gardens with an eastern exposure are shaded in the afternoon.
Gardens with an eastern exposure
are shaded in the afternoon.

  • Consider differences in sun intensity when planting on the east and west side of shade-casting trees or buildings. Even if east- and west-facing sites receive the same number of hours of sun, they will not produce identical results.
    • Gardens with an eastern exposure are illuminated with cool morning sun, then shaded in the afternoon. They are ideal locations for minimizing heat stress in southern climates or for plants such as rhododendrons that can burn in hot sun.
    • Gardens with western exposure are shaded in the morning and drenched in hot sun in the afternoon. Sunburn, bleaching, and sometimes death of delicate leaves can result, especially in warm climates and when growing sensitive young or shade-loving plants. Afternoon sun can also cause brightly colored flowers to fade. However, the west side of a building is the ideal place for sun-loving plants.

  • Try exposing flowering shade plants to a half day of morning sun to encourage better blooming. Extra light can also keep the plants more compact, tidy, and self-supporting.

  • Providing 6 to 8 hours of direct sun a day is sufficient for most plants that need full sun. The term "full sun" doesn't actually mean plants must be in bright light every moment of the day, only most of the day. The 6 to 8 hour minimum must be met, however, even during the shorter days of spring and fall for perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Whether sunny or shady, all gardens need some light to help them grow. Use the tips in this article to help you find the right balance.

Some Plants for Sunny Conditions
These plants prefer the sun:

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.