Can Full Sun Plants Grow In Shade? ( Top 5 Outcomes )

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All plants have specific light requirements, some of them do well in the shade while others need full sun to thrive. Most gardeners tend to improvise, as the rules of which plants will do well in full sun and which ones will do well in shade are actually different for every location. Shade in the northern parts of the country and shade in Florida for example are two extremely different types of shade.

Plants that thrive in full sun but are placed in a shady spot may exhibit certain issues. They may fail to flower or produce fruits, develop weak and elongated growth, or lose their characteristic leaf patterns and variegations. On the other hand, plants that require shade but are exposed to full sun may experience frequent wilting, leaf burn, and stunted growth.

A lot of people get very confused about growing full sun plants in the shade as everybody is giving different advice. Hydrangeas are an excellent example, while most people say that they need partial or even full shade to thrive, but if you are in the northern parts of the country they will need full sun. Most plants that need full sun will survive in partial shade, they might get leggy and never bloom but they will survive.

On the other hand, if you have a small patch in your garden where nothing is growing and it is always in shade, then planting anything here will be a big mistake. If not even weeds or grass grows in these areas then full sun loving plants will definitely not survive. If you are growing tulips and wonder what to do with them after they bloom then check out my recent article What To Do With Tulips After They Bloom ( Top 6 Chores ).

Can Full Sun Plants Grow In Shade?

Full sun plants are specifically adapted to thrive in direct sunlight for a significant portion of the day. While some plants may tolerate partial shade or dappled sunlight, it is generally not recommended to grow full sun plants in areas with significant shade. Shade can restrict the amount of sunlight necessary for photosynthesis, which is crucial for plant growth and development. Insufficient sunlight can lead to weak and leggy growth, reduced flowering, and overall poor plant health.

Full Sun Plants Will Not Bloom In Shade

The first thing that you will notice if you plant a full sun loving plant into the shade is that it almost never blooms. This happens because the plant needs a lot of energy in order to produce its flowers, and as it isn’t getting full sun for at least a couple of hours a day it will focus on growing towards the light. Once a part of the plant has grown into an area with full sun it might bloom, but this could take literally years.

In partial shade, some plants will be able to survive and even flower after a couple of years, but even partial shade stunts their growth significantly. On the other hand, if a full sun-loving plant is growing in full shade then odds of it flowering are slim to none. If you like tall, partial shade-tolerant plants then check out my recent article Allium Mount Everest ( Allium Stipitatum Mount Everest ).

Full Sun Plants Will Get Leggy In Shade

All plants have two main goals, survive and reproduce, survival is the most important for them, and if everything goes well they will produce flowers and seed heads in order to reproduce. Full sun-loving plants that are growing in shade struggle to survive, and their first task is to grow as fast as possible to reach full sun. Oftentimes the plant will actually lose its leaves in shade and will only keep the ones that have reached the full sun, and at that point, the plant is barely surviving.

In partial shade, most plants will get somewhat leggy, but not as much as they do in full shade. The problem with full shade for sun loving plants is that it takes soo much energy for the plants to reach an area where they can get full sun, that the entire plant will look like a mess for years.

Full Sun Plants Get Stressed Out In Shade

Planting or relocating a plant to a new location is always stressful for them, now imagine how stressful it becomes if the plant has gotten used to full sun in a nursery and now is being placed in the shade. Instead of focusing on root growth, the plant will start to lose its leaves as it is recycling its nutrients, once it has lost its leaves it will be extremely difficult for them to bounce back. No matter how nutrient-rich the soil is, the full sun-loving plant placed in shade will not be able to use them as it needs sunlight in order to absorb the nutrients from the ground.

In partial shade, the plant will be able to grow, although somewhat slower than if it would be growing in a full sun location. In full shade, the odds for the plant to survive and even bloom are extremely low, especially as it will be constantly stressed out. If you want to incorporate into your garden a plant with unique foliage then you should check out my recent article Oxalis Iron Cross ( Good Luck Plant ).

Full Sun Plants Will Not Survive In Shade

In the worst-case scenario, the plant will simply not survive in shade, it will start losing its leaves, and then it will do nothing for months on end. If you relocate the plant to a new place where it gets full sun then it might bounce back, but this mostly depends on how much energy is stored in the roots or in the bulb of the plant. For shrubs, it is extremely easy to determine if they are alive or not, just scratch one of the twigs and if you see the green layer then it is still alive.

Most full sun-loving plants will not survive in full shade, and for the most part, all full sun-loving plants will struggle in partial shade.

Full Sun Plants Can Not Compete With Shade Loving Plants In Shade

If you have a small shady corner garden, where you already have a couple of established shade-loving plants then it will be a big mistake planting a full sun-loving plant here. Simply put a plant that needs full sun will not be able to grow as fast as shade-loving plants in shade. The full sun-loving plant might survive for a couple of years, but for the most part, it will either grow extremely slowly or it will simply die out.

Key Takeaways

  • You can grow full sun-loving plants in shade, but only if it is in partial shade. Although full sun-loving plants will survive in partial or even full shade but that doesn’t mean that they will actually thrive. The two most common outcomes of planting a full sun loving plant into a shaded area are that they will not flower, and their growth rate will be severely stunted, to a point that the plants might simply die off.
  • If you plant full sun loving plants in shade then they will not bloom, will get leggy, stressed out, and unlikely to actually survive.
  • In case you have partial shade then you should make sure that the area gets at least a couple of hours of morning sun.