Full Sun vs Part Sun

Q: Here’s your dumb question of the day. When a plant tag says full sun or partial shade, how many hours of sun or shade are appropriate when determining if a spot is suitable for the plant?

A: If more gardeners asked “dumb” questions they’d be a lot more successful! Sunshine intensity differs across every landscape and garden. Compare the noon sunshine in Valdosta to noon sunshine in Blairsville: they’re radically different.

In any area, afternoon sun is stronger than morning sun. This is how I judge sunshine conditions in different parts of the state:


Coast: unfiltered sunshine for 6 or more hours per day

Mountains: unfiltered sunshine from morning to night

Elsewhere: unfiltered sunshine for 8 or more hours


Coast: all day sunshine filtered through high pine or hardwood (oak, maple, poplar, etc.) foliage OR 3 hours of direct sunshine between sunrise and noon, followed by shade

Mountains: five hours of direct sunshine between sunrise and noon, followed by shade

Elsewhere: direct sunshine part of the day, or partial sun (as under high pine trees) all day.


Coast: all day shade under low evergreen trees (live oak, magnolia)

Mountains: occasional direct sunshine during the day or dappled shade under low deciduous trees (dogwood, redbud, crabapple, etc.)

Elsewhere: dappled shade (as under low and high hardwoods) all day

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