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Plants have specific requirements for sunlight

Sunlight should be your very first consideration when selecting plants for your container garden.

Planting the right plants for the growing conditions and location of your garden planters is essential. If a plant is sun-loving, it will not do well in a shady location and a plant that thrives in shade cannot adjust to full sunlight conditions.

All plants need sunlight to photosynthesize—the process by which light, chlorophyll, energy, carbon dioxide and water interact within the plant to produce the sugar and starches it needs to survive.

Consider the Different Intensities of Sunlight

There are three intensities of sunlight that suit plants: full sun, partial sun, and shade. Generally, the lower the light, the slower the plant grows. Indoors, light requirements can be supplemented with artificial light, but this is not an option outdoors, so it is important to choose plants carefully for the existing light conditions of your garden space and plant groupings that share the same light requirements.

Keep in mind that taller plants can create ‘shady’ conditions for smaller plants as they grow—so be sure to consider when making your selections. Plants intended for partial shade should generally be positioned to avoid any harsh mid-day sun which may scorch tender leaves.

It is best to err on the side of having to re-position a planter to give it more light if it is not thriving, than to outright ‘kill’ it with too much sun. Other factors related to the type of sunlight available are the intensity of the light, the duration of exposure, and the overall quality of the light. The duration of light is more important to some plants—especially those that only flower during the short days of winter—than others.

Light quality affects plants because photosynthesis requires certain wavelengths, while flowering and fruiting require others. Read the requirements carefully when you purchase your plants to identify any special requirements they might have in your garden planters. You will be fighting a losing battle if you don’t provide your container garden plants with their specific sunlight requirements.

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