When it comes to good gardening, making sure your plants are positioned correctly is high on the list. A question that is commonly asked is “how much light do plants need?”. All plants need light to survive, so read on to discover more about the relationship between the two.
Understanding how much light your outdoor plants need will ensure that you position them correctly in your outside space. Whether you have flower beds or grow all of your plants in pots, you need to pick an area of your garden that allows them to receive adequate sunlight to thrive.
Of course, different plants require different amounts of light and while all plants will need access to some light in order to flourish, you’ll find that the amount varies greatly amongst different plant species. Some types of plants can do well in shaded areas while others need a lot of sunlight in order to bloom.
So what are some of the things you need to determine to understand how much light your plants need? Here are some things to consider.
Quantity of light put simply, is how much light reaches the leaves of your plants. More precisely it is the amount of light that hits the leaves. The higher the quantity, the more energy your plant will absorb, allowing it to grow faster. Any plant that produces flowers or fruits will likely be a light-loving variety. Flower pigments are made of molecules that need water, sugars, various nutrients and C02 but they’ll only grow if the light intensity is appropriate. If the quantity of light falls short of the requirements, the plant won’t flower, or will try but will give up halfway through the process.
The quality of the light a plant receives is determined by the colour and type of light. Light arrives in different wavelengths, each has a corresponding colour. Plants receive and absorb light differently than people. Plants appear green to the human eye because they reflect green light, this means that plants are rejecting green light because they can’t absorb it. Instead, plants require yellow, orange, red, blue and violet light which they can absorb and use to nourish them, this is also true of invisible light such as the ultraviolet light that comes from the sun.
Plants that require bright light need to be placed in a full sun position. This means there shouldn’t be anything that blocks the sun from reaching that plant. If your plant label says it likes full sun, make sure that no other plants or items (such as garden furniture) are acting as a barrier between that plant and the source of light it receives.
Plants that thrive in low light conditions still need light to be able to reach them but they won’t require direct sunlight so can be placed away from a direct source of light and will be fine with any barriers that create shade.
If you aren’t sure how much light your plant is getting you can do a shadow test. Here you take a sheet of white paper and hold it up to the source of light. Then put your hand just above the piece of paper. If you can see a sharp shadow on the paper you know it’s in a sunny spot. If the shadow is faint, less light is getting through.
It’s important to understand that light is food for plants. If your garden doesn’t get much light, you need to carefully select hardy, shade-loving plants that can handle this.
It’s also important to bear in mind that the sun will move across your garden from morning to evening. So plants that are in full sun in the morning may be in full shade by lunchtime depending on the aspect of your garden. Monitor this and select the best spots for your plants according to how much light they require.
English ivy is an attractive plant with pretty leaves that can trail, hang or creep along almost any surface.It will thrive indoors or outdoors and is happy in a shady spot.
Fatsia japonica is an evergreen shrub with lovely lobed leaves that bring structure and interest to your outdoor space. This versatile plant prefers dappled shade but won’t decline in a sunny spot either. Expect pretty white flowers and an abundance of black fruit come autumn.
The sun-loving Canary Island date palm is evergreen and sports lovely pinnate leaves and bright yellow flowers followed by red-yellow fruits.
2. English Lavender
English Lavender is a hardy, fragrant shrub that produces purple spiked flowers in the summer months. It likes full sun and doesn’t require a lot of water either.
3. Festuca Glauca
Blue Fescue, or Festuca glauca, is a hardy ornamental grass that thrives in a light spot in the garden. It’s low-maintenance so just put it in the sunshine and let it do its thing!
4. Olive Tree
The Olive tree is perhaps the biggest sun-worshipper of all and loves to bask in a sunny, well-lit spot. This Mediterranean tree produces silver-grey foliage, pretty white flowers followed by black fruit during the warmer months. However, don't expect olives. as they won’t grow in the British climate.
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We hope our tips have helped you understand how to determine the amount of light different plants require. If you would like to know any further information on the topic or want some assistance choosing the best plants for your outdoor space, please get in touch with us here - our team is on hand to help you!
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