Creating a beautiful outdoor green space can be difficult. From planning to planting, attention to detail is key in growing the healthiest plants possible. Still, there are often factors that are simply out of one’s own control. For those living in urban areas, usable growing space can be quite limited. Further concern may arise when growers begin to consider the amount of sunlight their yard actually receives during the day. When I first began growing cut flowers, adjusting to the amount of available sun in my own garden was one of my greatest struggles.
Flowers in the Shade
My growing space consists of three narrow rows in my backyard which have been enclosed by a privacy fence. In the neighboring yards stand several very large maple trees. These mature shade trees serve to provide a much welcome relief from the heat each summer. However, I quickly began to worry whether or not the dense shade each afternoon would cause issues for my flower plantings.
Most heat loving annual flowers require at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Before planting, I opted to use a light meter to determine exactly how many hours each of my beds actually received. Falling just below the target of 6 hours, I decided to proceed with planting and to hope for the best.
Full Sun Flowers in Shade
Much to my surprise, the first season in my shaded garden proved to be one of the most successful yet. While I did plant several species which would grow well under the part-shade conditions, I was delighted to find that several full sun plants flourished as well. In fact, the afternoon shade even seemed to improve the quality of the cut flower blooms that were to be used in bouquets. The difference was especially noticeable in the zinnias, as each flower maintained its vibrant hue much longer than usual.
Growing in part shade also offered another valuable lesson. For the first time, I was able to grow plants which had otherwise struggled to maintain vigor in the intense summer heat and humidity. My large dahlia planting responded particularly well, showing no signs of wilt or heat stress throughout the entire summer. Though I had initially worried about whether or not my new space would be a suitable home for my garden, I was absolutely delighted by the results!