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scraplolly

Stupid Question about sunlight

15 years ago

Ok, I know that "full sun" means a minimum of six hours. Partial sun/shade means at least three.

(I think that's right).

My question is this: does that mean over the entire YEAR or just the growing season?

For shrubs and trees, of course, I'd take the annual measurement--but when it comes to perennials, I don't know what to think.

We get up to 18 hours of sunlight in the summer--and I can get a healthy 8 --from the East--in my North facing front yard for at least four weeks around the summer equinox.

So, what do you think, do I have "full sun" or not?

Would bloom time help me pick my plants? e.g., for spring and summer blooming "full sun" plants I'd be all right, but for mid-summer to early fall maybe not? (Since I have less sun later than earlier in the season.)

oh help.

Comments (23)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Tehre is no answer to what you are asking....because all shade is not the same. There is a vast difference between the shade given by a tree that is limbed very high and that cast by a solid wall.
    Are the plants in question growing when it's not summer? Do you think their underground roots will care how much sun they get?
    And shade in the spring when the leaves on the trees are small than in mid summer when the leaves have grown to their full size.
    Also altitude makes a difference in the intensity of the sunlight.
    You will just have to see what works for you.
    Linda C

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In my experience, most perennials are pretty adaptable to minor changes in shade/sun. For instance, I have Shasta Daisies in various areas in my yard. In full sun, they bloom prolifically and the blossoms are big and full. They are the first of my Shastas to bloom but they don't last very long. The Shastas I have planted in areas that get partial shade tend to get taller, have fewer blossoms, but last much longer. I've also noticed that the blossoms look a bit different than the full sun blossoms. The petals are longer and thinner. This gives them a more delicate appearance that I actually like better. These plants are all divisions from the same original plant. I have noticed that my Echinaceas tend to do the same thing. Also, the color of the Cone Flowers seems to be more intense if planted in full sun at first bloom, but they do fade and get ragged more quickly than those that are in partial shade.
    I agree with LindaC. Shade is tough to pin down, unless it's from a permanent structure, and even then it changes with the Seasons.

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    2nd pic succulent on the left, looks like it's getting too much light. That rusty look, I don't think is desireable. It's a haworthia and I've read they have lower light requirements. Mine started to look like that & I thought it may have dried up and was ready to give up the ghost, but after moving to a shady bright place, out of direct sun, it became a lovely bright green again. I would also say most of them are overpotted, the soil appears to have a high component of peat, which doesn't work for me here in NY, perhaps in your part of the world it's not a problem? Specifically, a peaty medium stays wet for too long, plants eventually rot and roots become non existent. Too large of a pot also takes a long time to dry out. Have you any plans to put your plants outside for the warmer season? a stab at ID; pic 1. (starting on the left, echeveria runyonii and a couple of misc. babies, could one in the lower left in the pot be sedum rubrotinctum? other pot contains crassula ovata gollum, looks thirsty, or maybe lacking roots, leaves should be plump vs. wrinkled. pic 2. on the left is your haworthia (variety unknown to me) someone is bound to come along with the correct cultivar, I've seen them before. Not sure about pot number 2 (lower middle of pic) but definitely over potted. pic 3. sempervivum (of some kind, arachnid maybe?) the middle one is echeveria black prince, the last one on the right is aloe of some kind, that rosy blush is evidence of the amount of light it gets. I like mine to look like that =D pic 4. I'm guessing graptoveria 'fred ives', the pretty clump next to it, is likely an echeveria, planted in the correct sized pot, with the right amount of light, judging by the rosy blush. Though I do believe I see a couple of sunburned leaves, you can remove them, they won't heal. pic 5. appears to be a pot of misc. sempervivums, ahh, and there are 2 different plants in this last pot. The burgandy one appears to be the parent of the first pot of misc. babies, I know the plant but the name escapes me right now =D I defer to any corrections, these are educated guesses, memory isn't always as sharp as I'd like =D
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  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you both very much. The example of the daisies is quite interesting.

    I'm just such a nervous nellie when it comes to anything new--and gardening is a certainly a leap into the unknown!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The daisy & coneflower examples were great. That really helps me to understand the "try it out and see" concept that veteran gardeners seem to suggest alot :-) Im also VERY new to gardening and there's one particular area I want to use for a sorta green-thumb-internship. Problem is.....its one of those "part shade vs. part sun" areas. (see pic below).

    The shade is cast by a permanent sturcture so it only gets sun for about 3hours (from 3pm until 6pm) but isnt that when the sun is at its hottest? To complicate matters even more, its situated next to a long strip of concrete pavement which Ive heard intensifies the sun's heat. So even though the direct exposure is less than the full-sun minimum, Im wondering if all that extra heat counts for anything.

    Any suggestions on what type of exposure requirements I should aim for when looking for plants to "try out". I realize that some may do better than others, but if I could get some feedback on where to start, it might save me time, not to mention money. Thanks :-)

    I THINK THIS PIC WAS TAKING AT AROUND TWELVE NOON:
    {{gwi:38681}}

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That's a really Really rough spot to plant. Narrow, concrete all around and the exhaust from the air conditioner blowing all the time.
    Which way does that face?
    I really hate to say this, but that's the kind of a spot for one of those cast iron thugs like aegopodium. You might get some sedum to grow there but it won't bloom well.
    Daylilies might fill with foliage and a few blooms, Hosta would likely be your best bet, but you would ahve to be diligent with the water.
    That's a hard spot to plant....and when one considers you live in the snow belt and likely use ice melting chemicals, it's even more difficult.
    Linda c

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    [QUOTE lindac - That's a really Really rough spot to plant. Narrow, concrete all around and the exhaust from the air conditioner blowing all the time. Which way does that face? ]

    It faces WEST....does that mean anything?

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll do some research on them. Im in the process of trying to figure out the soil composition so I can decide if I want to try and amend the soil or just find plants that will "survive" in it as-is. Ive seen lotsa hostas when I peruse the garden centers but since the front of my house faces south, Ive just assumed I didnt have enough shade for them. I'll do some research to see which varieties can take the heat LOL :-) I'll also do the same with your sedum & daylily suggestions. Thanks again

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scraplolly,
    This isn't a stupid question at all. It's actually a complex issue.

    You don't say where you are, but you must be pretty far up north. I gardened for many years in Anchorage, Alaska and had similar sun/shade conditions in my yard. We were right on the coast, so we had very cool summers (like max temp for the year of 70-75F and most of the summer in the 50s-60sF) and I found that a lot plants that need shade in the lower 48 needed full sun in Anchorage. For some plants, it isn't the light that they are sensitive to; it's the temperature. However, some plants need shade no matter what. How do you know which is which? Two ways ... trial and error or asking other local gardeners who can share their years of experience with your local conditions with you.

    Another consideration is that the intensity of light that hits the north side of your house is much less than noon day sun in Alabama. Shade plants that will tolerate six hours of your northern sun would not survive with half that amount of more powerful southern sun.

    When you read gardening information, remember that most of it is for conditions typical in middle latitude conditions, not the subarctic. It will be of limited use to you. Get in touch with local gardeners or buy a good gardening book that was written just for your area, preferably by someone in your area. Ask questions at your local nursery or master gardeners. This is the time of year when there are open gardens or garden tours, and go on some of those if at all possible. You can learn so much by seeing what other people do in your specific area.

    Happy gardening and good luck!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I didn't find it a stupid question at all; I have a serious problem with enough sun, am learning the hard way starting with some very elementary knowledge. You also have to factor in neighbors' trees, fences, detached garages, etc. Plus have many of my own, one a very large clump of birches that block much morning sun as well in front. The one across the street is a huge tulip tree and blocks out a lot of my morning sun for much of the east side. Neighbor's flowering crab to the west in front blocks much afternoon sun and keeps getting bigger, didn't factor that in and ruined my plans for a rose and clematis w/something I installed to climb on, big disappointment that, but will give it a little more time. Still, I try to work around it.

    Found daylilies will bloom well, a little later than most, in much more shade than recommended but not total. Roses are different, most actually are helped by partial blocking afternoon sun but not morning. My shasta daisies in front, south side, my best spots get a lot of dappled shade and are growing and blooming great (replaced the shastas from seed that took over and were ratty with 3 Becky). These need to be divided already. Phlox does well in dappled shade, very partial but not total.

    On the east side the part that gets full morning sun, I have to watch with watering and roof overhang, rain doesn't do much there. A whole bed with roses, only one is doing well, the sage, artemesia don't like it nor do 3 of the roses. Lamium and a variety of campanula with a Russian name, Blue Waterfall, does well. One would be more spectacular in a lot more sun.

    I only salt my front sidewalk and always the steps in a few critical places, the front street isn't salted luckily, have a detached garage where the driveway isn't an issue, the snow route on the long side is but far enough away from anything but grass, would like to stick a few things along that narrow strip between sidewalk and street to break the monotony, especially the ugly utility poles.

    West side is impossible except in one small area toward the front, very narrow and neighbor to the west has a tall fence. Plus he sprays and it drifts even through the baffleboard fence.

    Backyard drives me crazy with my ancient maple tree I love and always liked for shade, now the roots and few sunny spots make it a problem in most of it. So I'm learning the hard way what works what absolutely will not.

    Here you are supposed to call before you dig because of water, phone (overhead feed but something buried in the ground in back), gas lines, etc. So I did have my yard all mapped out and took photos before I took out the flags.

    The oddest thing is I rooted a rose from a cutting of a found rose, stuck it behind the garage on the east side where most of the sun is blocked in all directions. It bloomed for the first time this year, and blooms were gorgeous, I like it better than the parent if it keeps up. But it's a once-bloomer in early June which has started to set buds before the trees and bushes are fully leafed out. That makes a difference sometimes.

    Linda knows her stuff, has helped me with other things, sprinkled the crumbled dryall, Linda, hope I didn't overdo it just in time for two nights of good, soaking rain.

    The bottom line is like they said, follow some general rules, and learn what works where.

    That west side on the problem house, my first thought, hosta, good points about the ac and salt, also have to consider dryer vents. But I'd like to see something just a little taller for behind to break the long, horizontal line between the raised? basement and upper floor. The only thing I can think of that climbs is a certain kind of honeysuckle that can get out of control, maybe not so much in our colder zones. Don't recommend Virginia Creeper or any other vine that can get unwieldy and invasive. Maybe things like filipendula, bleeding heart, columbine, cimifuga (sp?) and ligularia *might* work, does for my sis w/lots of shade in z3-4 except she can't get columbine to grow and critters eat all her lilies, told her about Liquid Fence and other rememdies, she's tried some to no avail.

    I'm really pretty new at all of this, grew a few things all my life but just piddled at it, now I'm more serious and try to take more care.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have a spot similar to that planted with False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana), a pink variety. It was actually there when I moved in. You'll probably have to water it quite a bit, but then again it'll be contained and you won't have to worry about it being invasive (I have it in other areas as well and don't have a problem with it but have heard other folks have). It's growing right next to the air conditioner and doesn't mind it a bit. Lily-of-the-Valley also grows there -- again, you'd have to water and you'd only have flowers in the spring, but the foliage is pretty. Black-eyed Susan might work as well. Whatever you plant will probably need extra watering due to all the concrete, the AC and the heat reflected off the white foundation. Good luck experimenting -- isn't that half the fun :)?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Mulch and soaker hoses might help the hot and dry situation near the foundation.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    BUT!...When you are watering that near the foundation.....don't leave and forget that the hose is on....
    Ask me how I know? And I guess I am a slow learner, because I flooded the basement twice!
    Now the rule is when watering next to the house.....do it by hand....don't put that hose down unless you shut it off!
    Linda C

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks for all the suggestions. Im almost done "testing" my soil and it looks like Ive got a good amount of clay that oddly enough drains much too quickly. I'll be mixing in "lots" organic matter next week (probably just some store bought compost manure). Since the area is so long at just a little over 45 feet, Im going to give all the suggestions a try and see how they do next year. So, here a list (based on you all recommendations):

    Aegopodium (on second thought, maybe not this one)
    Sedum
    Daylilies
    Hostas
    Honeysuckle (type to be determined)
    Filipendula
    Bleeding heart
    Columbine
    Cimifuga (sp?)
    Ligularia
    False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana),
    Lily of the Valley
    and......Black Eyed Susan

    One Quick Question for aliska12000 - for the "climbers" you suggested.....will I need to place up some vertical supports against the wall (i.e. trellis) or will they just grow upward on their on?

    Thanks Again to Everyone :-)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ferns are great for spots like that in spite of it being dry. And make a good foliage contrast with hostas and hellebores. And change from salt for melting ice to granular fertilizer - works just as well and better for plants.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    dtownjbrown:

    Please do NOT plant anything that needs a lot of water in that spot.

    Your home looks to be about the same era as mine (nearing a century old). When we bought the house, the walls in the basement were starting to spall because they were waterproofed from the inside, not the outside, and there were perennials planted all along the foundation. My driveway is situated just like yours. The building inspector told me not to worry, that they house is built like a tank and there are no signs of structural shifting, but to pull out the plants because water makes the foundation worse. In fact, he thought I should concrete over it or put in clay (we are on the Great Lakes and it's pretty sandy here).

    If you have clay, that's a good thing to have next to the house, and having grown up with clay soil, I can promise you that it won't drain quickly. I'd have to wait HOURS for water holes to drain when planting roses!

    As for plantings... well, I went with low-water plants, such as lavender, hens and chicks, and lamb's ears. But my wall faces south, so it gets a lot a lot a lot of sun. Whatever you try, please, for the sake of your foundation, make sure it doesn't need a lot of water, and I hate to say it, but I wouldn't mulch there, either. It holds in the moisture.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree....lily of the valley, Ligularia, bleeding heart and cimicifuga all will need more water than you should be putting there....they are semi shady woodland plants, not for planting in a narrow area along a drive way.
    Go with the sedum and day lilies....and on 2nd thought even hosta might be needing more water than youw ant to put down there.
    A simple ground cover like pachysandra might be just what you need.
    But you aren't going to get much of a garden in 2 feet between the foundation and the drive way on the west side of the house.
    Linda C

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    [QUOTE scorpiohorizon - dtownjbrown: Please do NOT plant anything that needs a lot of water in that spot.]

    Thanks for the heads up. Although my soil is predominantly clay (or so I think) it doesnt drain like its clay. I did a water-hole test where I dug a 12x12 inch hole, filled it with water once to wet the sides, then filled it a second time to see how long it took to completely drain. Well after only 3 hours, all the water was gone (which Im told is way too fast for "typical" clay soil). So, Im going to do the jar test to see what percentage of clay I actually have. So, I think I will stay away from the plants that require alot of water because although my house was built almost a century ago, I have been noticing a some wetness in my basement, not actual puddles of water but sometimes after it rains my basement floor looks kinda glisteny (is that a word?).

    [QUOTE lindac - A simple ground cover like pachysandra might be just what you need. But you aren't going to get much of a garden in 2 feet between the foundation and the drive way on the west side of the house.]

    Thanks for the pachysandra suggestion...I dont think that one had been mentioned yet. I agree that this narrow strip is not ideal for a "real" garden, but I just wanted to test out my green-thumb aptitude. Ive been getting alot of advice like "it might work" or "just try it out and see" so I wanted to conduct little experiments before commiting anything to my front lawn area.

    So that being said, I have revised my list again. Please let me know if any of these "new" choices will require too much water for my spot:

    Sedum
    Daylilies
    Pachysandra
    Honeysuckle
    Filipendula
    Columbine
    False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana)
    and......Black Eyed Susan

    Hostas (NOT THIS ONE...needs too much water)
    Bleeding heart (NOT THIS ONE....will need too much water)
    Cimifuga (NOT THIS ONE....will need too much water)
    Ligularia (NOT THIS ONE...needs too much water)
    Lily of the Valley (NOT THIS ONE...needs too much water)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Oh, by the way, sorry for the hi-jack scraplolly :-)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yeah, hey.

    I'll send out the hijack police in the morning.

    Actually, I'm learning a lot here--and I really must do the drain test on my soil too--and the jar thing. I even got a soil testing kit--so I should take care of all that soon.

    Carry on....

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I lived in a turn of the century house as well (built 1888). We had lots of foundation plantings (including shrubs that had been there for at least 50 years according to the prior owner)and watered frequently and never had a problem. It probably does depend on your soil -- in our case we had a lot of amended clay and we hand watered to keep it consistently moist but never soggy wet. Our building inspector said that you usually have problems with foundation plantings like shrubs and trees planted too close because when they get too dry they start looking for a water source and the humidity of the typical basement draws the roots that way. On the other hand, more drought tolerant perennials would be more environmentally friendly. A plant that might work along those lines would be coreopsis -- we grew that in a spot on the south side right beside an asphalt driveway and it grew like gangbusters and spread nicely as well. Ours was an heirloom lance-leaf variety with single gold flowers, but there are lots of other types to choose from.
    Please post some pictures when you get things planted -- I'd love to see what you decide to go with.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You might want to consider trying ornamental grasses. I am not sure about your zone, but they are not picky about soil conditions. They dont require alot of maintenence and require little to no fertilizer(some grasses even flop if they have it too good) Liriope might also be a nice choice. It grows in every situation in my landscape. Good luck with your project.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well I guess I'm contributing to the hijack - sorry scraplolly! I used to live in a house with a driveway just like dtownjbrown and I hated it. So I was kind of interested in contributing to his story.

    You could think about mixing some evergreens in there. Microbiota, dwarf chamaecyapris, pencil holly, rug or pencil junipers, etc. But they are kind of dull in a row...

    Another way to go about this is to plant annuals for a few years to see what responds to the lighting. I would think you could grow coleus, petunias, maybe even an indeterminate tomato - cherry tomatoes, the italian plum tomatoes. I grow them in less than optimal sun in containers. My favorite is San Marzano - good for salsa.
    This year I'm growing calladiums in full sun planters so go try some new things - you never know what will work.

    Sometimes the repeated annual amendment helps also. Your soil looks good in the picture but who knows how old it is? You say it drains quickly- its possible that somewhere along the way somebody re-waterproofed and improved the drainage down deeper. When we had our back wall re-waterproofed they dug down 11 ft and then filled the space with limestone to about 2 ft from the top - then backfilled my topsoil on top of that. The space right up against my house is very dry as a result.

    A good resource for you would be the Botanical Gardens in the area - just do a search.
    Another good resource is the Plant Search function at MOBOT - Missouri Botanical Gardens. For ex. I just searched on Full sun to part shade, Dry to medium, 6-12 inches spread, Zone 3 for scraplolly and got a list of plants back -
    http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Results.asp

    I don't know if you want anything to hang out over the line of the bed into your driveway but I'd think about that as you select plants.(daylilies)Whacking the flower heads every time you drive in has a tendency to look kind of ugly.

    The above was in case you don't like my idea:

    Given the narrow space and lighting my personal recommendation would be to plant a unifying ground cover like pachysandra which is evergreen, make space intermittently to have a few clumps of daffodils/tulips and alliums in spring and then have a nice white lattice structure just covered in green ivy to cover the wall. I would have parts of the lattice go up 6-8 ft and parts down at the level your siding begins. - sort of like the silhouette of a town. I would use horizontal and vertical crossbars rather than the cheaper looking diamond shaped criss cross pattern. You need to fasten it so that it is out from the siding about 1.5-2 inches for long term home care. You don't want ivy putting tendrils into your siding or cement. Where you live you might succeed with Boston Ivy which is very colorful in the fall. An alternate might be grapes or hydrangea petiolaris which I doubt would be watered at all after established. I could see having round blue ceramic planters filled with colorful coleus and impatiens set right down into the pachysandra with the wall of green ivy behind them. To give more space you could have cutouts in the latticework to center the planter in the space. You could have a small water fountain on the wall among the vines - or frame it with the lattice. Another planter idea is pruned boxwood with annuals/trailing vines around them for summer - and you can do something with them for the holidays. You should be able to have Korean, Vardar Valley, Green Mountain, etc live in a container if you keep pruned. The Blue Girl holly also does well in low light/bright sun but you'd really have to stay on the pruning to keep a holly in bounds.

    I would also try some unobtrusive stick in the ground solar lights to create a soft glow after dark along the drive or you can wire lighting in.

    I get container combination ideas every yr from the White Flower Farms catalog - gorgeous stuff altho this yr they were too in love with bronze and orange combos.

    Shrubs that I have kept pruned for yrs to 12 to 18" wide are taxus, boxwood and believe it or not - euonymous - burning bush. I have a 3 ft deep bed along my house and its underplanted with pachysandra and the burning bush are at least 20 yrs old - you just have to keep up with the pruning to keep them to the size you want.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    HI - sorry about the hijack
    I was just going to say that your best bet is to search on botanical gardens in your area and look at their plant lists. There have also been some northern Alaska gardens featured in the past few yrs in Better Homes and Gardens, Horticulture and Fine Gardening magazines. You could search on their websites. They were growing most everything I grow at my house plus a lot of alpines- and tons of annuals. My recollection is that almost anything from the daisy family did well. The NGA - National Gardening Association does a biweekly email that highlights gardening information for your area. I'm assuming you live in the US - if so, your County Extension Service should have all kinds of free info for what works in your area.

    The question about your sun exposure refers to the number of hrs of sunlight per day in the growing season. You obviously have a short one so you need things that get to the point more quickly. If you are going to use annuals I'd make a set up that allows you to get them going indoors till it warms up outside. Good luck - I bet the kids like having daylight so long!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I could see some Walker's Low nepeta there, and I think the coreopsis and ornamental grass suggestions are good. Low maintenance plants that like sunny, dry conditions, with not a lot of organics.

    By the way, 8 hours of sun in the middle of summer sure sounds like full sun to me!

    Deanna

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