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Easy CareEasy-care basics : Avoid planting in shade, unless suited

Most plants will not grow well in shade and we invite trouble by growing sun-lovers in the wrong place. Most plants need good light but some tolerate shade. If a plant that needs sunshine is planted in the shade, it will not grow well and will need to be moved. Avoid this effort, or the loss of the plant, by placing it correctly from the outset.

All plants need light but some have adapted to coping with less than full sunshine. These are mainly woodland plants that must make do with whatever light reaches the woodland floor. They have evolved strategies to cope with reduced light.

Avoid planting in shade, unless suited

Avoid planting in shade, unless suited

Climbers have developed the ability to climb up host trees to reach the light. Under-storey plants like holly, laurel and rhododendron have often got darker foliage with greater amounts of green chlorophyll to make best use of the light that reaches them. Very often these are evergreen, which allows them to make growth early in the year before the leaves come on the deciduous trees overhead.

Some woodland floor plants have bulbous roots that allow them to grow very quickly early in the year, flower and produce seed before mid-summer. Many of the spring bulbs fit into this category. Some woodland plants have broad thin leaves to present as much surface area as possible to the light above.

At the same time, this flimsy foliage is protected from weather damage by the trees. For example, ferns are natural shade-lovers that generally open their fronds at the same time as the trees unfurl their protective leaves.

Many plants have also adapted to growing in the full glare of the sun. Without it, they will not flower well and might even die after a while. Many of these plants are natives of open grassland or scrub areas where there are no large trees to cast shade.

Avoid planting in shade, unless suited

Avoid planting in shade, unless suited

Very often, plants that like full sunshine also like dry soil, but not always. Equally, the ones that like shade do not always like moist soil. In fact, many woodland plants are adapted to withstand drought caused by the competition of the tree roots – another excellent reason for getting all the growing done in the early part of the year and dying back to a bulbous root during the dry summer months!

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