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04/05/2014 at 16:51

Hello All. Can you advise? 

To cut it short, does the term "partial sun" describe the length of time a spot is hit by the rays of the sun or is it that the area is obscured somewhat? By trees perhaps, as is my case. Is it a time or density factor?

I know my herbs for example like full sun, but sadly by half past 4, the trees all but hide the suns rays.



04/05/2014 at 17:14

Michael, A fully South Facing Garden would get full sun  from sun  up to sunset, in some seasons that would be almost desert conditions with the need for sun loving plants.

My Garden is South facing although the house on the East side blocks off the sun until around 09-30 then it gets the sun all day until the last rays at sun set.

On the South boundary is a 4 foot fence so that border is sheltered from the sun until around 15-00 hours so is partial sun. The front lawn is on the East side so gets the sun from sun up to around 11-00 hours, partial sun. The North side of the house has  a wall away from the house that gets the first sun, then is blocked until 15-30 hours until sun set so partial to full sun and my Herb bed is in that plot and thrives, Partial to full sun I call it and the ground is very dry, I need watch the watering.

Full sun is all day or nearly all day, Partial sun can vary from a few hours or depending on what will cast a shadow on that part of the garden. Shade is my South fence behind which the sun only reaches at the end of the day for a hour or so.

Hope this helps.


04/05/2014 at 17:31

Yes.....confusing isn't it?

Partial sun  can also be dappled shade, viz., shade created by taller plants.  Sun just for the morning or just for,the afternoon is partial sun, in my book.  Less than say 2 or 3 hours daily would be shade. 

04/05/2014 at 17:38

Thank you Frank, thats a great and informative answer.

I fear then ive been looking at things a tad different. I mean yes i do get full sun on my plants at some point but only from about 11 til half past 4. After this time theres a faint glimmer of sun peeping through tree foliage.

I really should be looking for partial sun classed plants then. Damn.

04/05/2014 at 18:59

Do you know Michael, i take no notice of sun or not, I plant what i like, where i like, almost everything is lovely and grows well. my bergenia, pulmanaria, hostas and that bleeding heart thingy, cant remember the name, all shade plants grow beautifully in the full sun. I do have piccys to back that up.

04/05/2014 at 19:20

and I grow things that 'should' be in full sun in partial shade. Equal success.

04/05/2014 at 19:22

Michael.........I tend to go along with Verdun.....I think that sums it up basically.

What you need to take into consideration is whether your garden is fully established and therefore you know where your trees, shrubs, etc shade (or not ) your other planting.

If you are still working on planting your garden, then you can move stuff according to your aspect , plant stuff specifically for the effect you want.

And don't forget, even established gardens need an overhaul sometimes if you have made a mistake in planting...........gross errors soon become obvious when you get up in the morning, look out at your garden and maybe think...."Now why on earth did I put that there ??"

We all do it........some more than others

04/05/2014 at 19:28

11am until 4.30pm is fine, they get sun during the sunniest part of the day.

04/05/2014 at 20:21

To be honest ive not really planted much other than bulbs (novice stuff) that have done fairly well during this spring. I do however have lots and lots of potted items to later find a permanent spot for in the ground. All my pots contain full sun catergories and ive been known to juggle them around during certain parts of the day in an attempt to follow the best rays (my neighbours must think im mental)

Im sure though Lizzie is quite correct, albeit 11 til 4:30 seems a relatively short period, it is the best part of the day and the pots do get a decent uninterupted soaking from the sun during this period..... when it decides to show itself  

And yes plants do adapt surely?  This is the 1st year that ive taken it so seriously and i do so want my plants to have a good start in life. Overmothering?

04/05/2014 at 20:35

I think gardening is a bit like having children.

The first one you need everything, new if you can and when you go out you take everthing but the kitchen sink.

When number 2 comes along, you make do with what you have

Days out involve a bag with some bits in.

When number 3 comes along, you're not so fussy, second hand will do,( i bought a cot for 50p for my grandson) days out are a couple of nappies and a pack of wet wipes,

so back to gardening, you need to do every right at first, just like the baby, buy all the gear, most of which you wont use, as the years go on its bung it in and hope for the best, plants, like children will mostly come good in the end, whatever.

04/05/2014 at 22:23

...... then they propagate and have children of their own...... 

04/05/2014 at 22:24

Michael, five and a half hours in my book is full sun, light is the essential be it dappled or full. My Herbs recommended in books as full sun and dry soil well drained and not too rich thrive. The soil is dry and the sun is shaded by the house for half the day so are the books wrong no, I have learned over many years what I can grow where and it works, our own experience is what counts. There are plants that need full sun but if we had an overnight frost they do not want early morning sun, that is what kills the plant thawing too quickly. Gardening is the proverbial minefield what works is because your position is right in my case out of the bitter Northerly winds and a brick wall to take in heat and give it back. There will be lots of advice and most of it will be correct for that persons particular garden, we can only take the bits that appertain to our own environment.


05/05/2014 at 06:35

get can seeven established gardens need an overhaul sometimes if you have made a mistake in planting...........gross errors soon become obvious when you get up in the morning, look out at your garden and maybe think...."Now why on earth did I put that there ??"

We all do it........some more than others


Couldn't agree more   just checking the sun rising now and can see where the deep shade is and, ofcourse, as we move into summer the  sun gets higher anyway so shady areas of the garden also change. 

Hmm. Have a feeling that my herbs are going to be too shaded by full summer, they are a bit leggy from last year. Should I move them? Maybe into pots? 

Time for a cuppa and a rethink.

05/05/2014 at 07:27

Take Alan Titchmarsh's advice and lie in a hammock (or sit in a deck chair - if you're not as post as Alan!) on a sunny summer's day, and watch what happens as the shadows move around the garden. When rude remarks are made by family members, suggesting that you're a lazy so and so, politely explain that you are conducting valuable research.

Are there areas in the shade all of the time - deep shade - where you cannot read a magazine easily: If so, even shade loving plants will struggle here unless you can improve light levels a bit.

Light shade beneath the canopy of a tree produces an attractive dappled effect, where it's pleasant to sit and enjoy a cold beer on a hot day: shade loving plants and choice woodland species will enjoy it here. Make sure there is some shelter from strong winds.

Areas that are in shade for about half of the day: partial shade plants will be happier here.

If an area is in full sun throughout the whole day: full sun is the plants to choose for here.

 To complicate matters light levels change throughout the year. Deciduous trees will have shed their leaves in winter and there will therefore be more light underneath them in the winter and spring than in full summer. Bulbs often flower in the spring to take advantage of the higher light level in the spring and then enjoy the cool of shade as they recover underground in the summer ready to put on another show the following spring.

So, in summary:

  • Full Sun - prefer, or even requires, as much sun as is available.
  • Partial Shade - tolerant of (or even prefers) limited or indirect sunlight.
  • Shade - will grow in a site receiving low light, such as under a tree canopy.

Whilst some plants that prefer full sun will tolerate some shade (and visa versa) your garden will look its best if you plant the right plant in the right place.

17/05/2014 at 11:20

Thank you all for this. It really does make a good and informative read 

17/05/2014 at 11:31

Excellent thread.

Now to do some Alan Titchmarsh style research.  

17/05/2014 at 15:16

----as we speak 

17/05/2014 at 15:32

This is a highly informative thread and much wisdom on display. Lyn I love that analogy with having children,so true 

17/05/2014 at 15:57

all my babies, and plants awaiting a home, are standing where the sun has gone by midday whether they are sun or shade lovers. They get fried in the sun and I have to water too much

17/05/2014 at 16:02

That was beautifully written Scott 

Award yourself a cup of tea and a cake 

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