Sun, Shade, Partial Sun, Partial Shade – What does it mean?

Often these terms are confusing even for a seasoned gardener, so below are some 20170502_182451guidelines to shed light on the subject, and help you plant with confidence.

Full Sun: 6 hours of direct sunlight anytime during the day. It could even be 3 hour in the morning, then 3 more in the afternoon, but 6 hours total is the minimum.

Partial Sun: 3-6 hours of direct sunlight, but provide some relief from hot afternoon sunshine.

Shade: Less than 6 hours of sunlight, is considered a shady area.

Partial Shade: 3-4 hours of morning or early afternoon sunlight, then shaded or getting indirect light in the late afternoon.

Dappled Sun: Similar to partial shade, some sunlight makes it through the branches of deciduous trees.


Full Shade: Lessen than 3 hours of sunlight. Morning sunshine is the best, then receiving some dappled sun or filtered light during the day.

Shade Tolerant: Plant prefers more sunlight, but can be planted in partial shade. Possibly deceiving statement, because plant performance could be substandard if planted in partial shade.


Note:  Some plants listed for shade gardens in USDA Zones 7-8 may perform better in full sun in Zones 4-5.

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas