Landscaping & Yard CareOrnamental PlantsPlant Care Instructions

How Much Light Does That Plant Need?

Whenever a new plant is acquired for the garden, gardeners need to keep a few things in mind. To ensure a long, happy life for the plant, it must be hardy to your garden’s climate and it needs to receive the proper amount of sunlight.

Hosta is a plant the requires full shade.

Determining whether a particular plant will survive the winter cold and summer heat is usually quite simple. The growing zone for plants is typically listed on the plant tag if the plant has been purchased from a nursery. Growing zone maps can be found in nearly every seed catalog or online. 

But sometimes the light requirements listed on plant tags can be awfully confusing. What is the difference between “light shade” and “filtered shade”? And what exactly is “full sun”?

If a plant requires full sun, this means it should be planted in a spot where it will receive no less than six hours of direct sunlight each day. Most vegetable plants and many flowering plants require full sun.

Plants that require full shade should be planted where they will receive no direct sunlight. Locate plants with full shade requirements on the north side of your house or beneath

a shade tree. Hostas, ferns and many woodland wildflowers require full shade or filtered shade.

Filtered shade is often found beneath trees that have more open canopies. The area is mostly shaded, but some dappled sunlight does reach the ground beneath the trees. A plant that grows well in filtered shade will generally perform just as well in part shade.

An area that receives four to five hours of shade daily is considered to be part shade. A partly shady area may receive direct sunlight in the early morning or late afternoon but is in full shade the remainder of the day. A plant that typically requires full sun will survive in part shade but may not bloom well.

If an area receives two to four hours of shade during the growing season, this would be considered light shade. A plant that needs full sun will tolerate light shade, especially if they are shaded during the hottest part of the day. In particularly warm climates, full sun plants will appreciate receiving some light shade to help them deal with the heat.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of 2 books. You Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at and read his blog at

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