Using Shade to Increase Plant Growth and Variety for Gardens

By October 16, 2016Shade Uses

No matter the plant, they will always use photosynthesis as one of their main forms of nutrition. Plants however do not all have the same needs for sunlight. If they did, they would only grow in wide open plains. But as we know, many plants grow great in low-sunlight conditions. And especially in areas like Texas where the climate tends to lean more towards high heat and heavy sunlight, more sun isn’t always more success for your garden. Think of how many plants grow fine beneath the canopy of forests.

The effects and benefits of shade on plant growth is numerous.

One, in some climates water is not the limiting factor, in others it is. Either way, it can play out well to have low sunlight. If the growth does not depend upon water, it is likely less energy will be needed from sun. If there is limited water, for some plants it is best to have shade to conserve water. But this all depends on the type of plant. If the plant you want to grow is not perfect for your climate because of an inability from the plant to tolerate heat, shade is an important part of keeping the plant cool. In fact, many vines will actually tend to grow away from the sun, and some plants have leaves that actively avoid the light. Something to keep in mind is that regardless of the shade-tolerant plant, if they grow beneath canopies they likely need to have access to nutrient rich soil. This is because the trees above will drop leaves, leaving behind rich soil that is essentially compost from the leaves decay. One of the benefits that help humans is that many plants actually cool down the air. They do this through transpiring to help growth, but this effect is a great multiplier when doubled with shade to cool down an area.

What types of plants are shade tolerant?

There are many vegetables that should be grown in shade to protect them from 95F+ temperatures. Young peach and apple trees, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers will all benefit from shade. Anything over 110F will start to cause the very quick death of these plants. To protect these plants, you may plant sunflowers or sunchokes on the west side of the garden to protect them from above and from the side. Among herbs and flowers, if you would like to protect the environment, bees would thank you for planting dead nettles. With the impending bee crisis, dead nettles remain the one plant that bees love to pollinate and having this means they also will pollinate your other flowers! Help the environment, the bees and yourself by planting dead nettles. Parsley, lemon balm and wild ginger can be used to cook with. Impatiens are a beautiful dark purple color on their leaves, and have beautiful bright white and pink flowers that grow off of them.

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