The Perennial Q & A section provides answers to common questions about perennials and their care. We encourage you to look in other areas of this website and at individual plant records in the Perennial Encyclopedia if you do not find the answer you are looking for here.
Could you please explain the difference between morning sun and afternoon sun?
Much like it is easier for humans to get a sunburn in the hot afternoon sun than in the morning, the same holds true for plants. Morning sun is much weaker in intensity than afternoon sun. Even though part shade is technically defined as 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, there is a huge difference between 4-6 hours of afternoon sun vs. 4-6 hours of morning sun.
As a general rule, plants that prefer full shade to part shade need to be planted where they will have exposure only to morning sun or where they will receive no direct sunlight at all.
Conversely, plants that prefer full sun need to be planted where they will receive an absolute minimum of 6 hours of direct afternoon sun, preferably much more.
When plants are sited in improper lighting conditions, they will tell you if you look closely. Some will stretch their stems and lean awkwardly towards the direction the sun is coming from. Others will not grow nearly as large as you would expect them to. Many will reduce their flower production or will not flower at all if there is not enough sunlight to produce buds. Some will just give up and die completely. Listen to your plants--they will tell you what they need!
Click here to search the Perennial Encyclopedia to find plants that meet your sun requirements.