Fred Jaicks  Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks


When designing a patio garden, it is important to take into account the light requirements of each potential plant. Some plants require full sun, which can be difficult to supply depending on the location of the garden and the amount of trees in the way. Other plants require partial shade, and some plants are hardy and more flexible. Proper planning is essential to a healthy garden, so make sure to learn everything you can about the light requirements of each plant before putting them in the ground.

Sun Plants

Plants that generally require full sun actually require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight a day in order to thrive. This sunlight must be unfiltered, so it is ideal to choose a planting location away from shade. When finding a new home for these plants, keep in mind that South-facing gardens receive more direct sun than gardens facing any other direction. Additionally, plants that require partial sun usually do well with three to six hours of morning and early afternoon sun.

Shade Plants

Just because your yard is in the shade doesn’t mean you can never have a garden! There are plenty of plant varieties that do extremely well in shady conditions. Plants that require full shade generally need less than three hours of direct sunlight a day in order to survive. Any more than that will cause the plant to burn and wilt. Remember that “shade” hardly ever means “darkness” in the plant world-shade-loving plants still require dappled or indirect sunlight all day.

  • Planting in the Shade – A short article that includes links to lists of shade-loving perennials, ferns, trees, shrubs, and vines.
  • Shade Tolerant Plants –This article from the Green Education Foundation includes information about shade-loving plants, flowers, and cool-weather vegetables.
  • Shade Plants For The Atlanta Area (PDF) – This informative resource contains information about many shade plants that are native to the Atlanta, Georgia region.
  • Shade Gardening – Helpful tips about how to design a garden revolving around shade-loving plants.
  • Shade Plants For Craven County Landscapes – This resource from Craven County, NC discusses many of the shade-tolerant plants that do well in the area.
  • Plants For Shade – This helpful page includes many species of trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines, perennials, bulbs, and annuals that do well in the shade.
  • Plants Made For The Shade – Another helpful resource discussing popular shade-loving plants.
  • Colorful Plants For Shady Spots – Because plants that love shade can often be green and boring, the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County have compiled a list of colorful annuals and biennials to brighten up your landscape.
  • A Garden of Shade Loving Herbs – Although most herbs prefer full sun, many do very well in the shade. This list from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden discusses the most popular herbs to plant in the shade.

Plants That Grow In Most Conditions

There are many plant varieties that do well in both sunny and shady locations. For example, herbs are a great choice for any garden because there are several varieties that are tolerant of sun and shade. Tomatoes are another great choice for novice gardeners because they are also easy to grow in most conditions.