So you are thinking about planting something, but the tag has you confused. What does it mean when the packet says the plant requires partial shade? Should the area receive more shade than sun, more sun than shade or equal parts? And what is “dappled” shade?
Here’s a quick primer to decode the messages on those seed packets and plant labels. Before you begin planting your garden, it’s important to determine what areas are full sun, partial sun, shade and partial shade. You can do this by watching your yard throughout the day and taking notes on which areas of your garden or potential garden site receive sun, shade, or both, and for how long.
Full Sun: Plants requiring full sun should be placed in an area that receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Many sun-loving plants will tolerate upwards of 6 hours, but will need to be watered regularly in order to endure the heat.
Full-sun plants can also tolerate partial shade, but will produce fewer flowers or fruits/vegetables than in full shade.
Roses are a good choice for full sun, as they need at least 6 hours of full sun a day. Jackson & Perkins is having a tag sale on roses – up to 65% off.
Also try herbs including basil, chamomile, parsley, rosemary, and sage in areas that receive full sun. An inexpensive and easy way to grow a herb garden is to start from seeds.
Partial Sun/Partial Shade: These two terms are often used interchangeably. Partial sun or partial shade means that the area should receive 3-6 hours of sun each day, preferably in the morning and early afternoon when the sun isn’t at its hottest.
Perennials such as columbine, bleeding hearts, foxglove and day lilies grow well in partial sun or partial shade.
Dappled Shade: The sun is blocked by large-leaved deciduous trees such as Maples, but light is still able to enter the area.
Plant poppies and many varieties of ferns in dappled shade areas.
Full Shade: Full shade means fewer than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, full shade does not mean no sun; the area should receive filtered or dappled sunlight throughout the rest of the day.
Both hostas and lily-of-the-valley do well in full shade areas.