What Does “Full Sun” Mean in Gardening?

What does full sun mean in gardening? You’ve bought new plants that require this, and you want to make sure you’re planting them correctly. We’ve researched our favorite gardening reports and found the answers for you.

In gardening, full sun means that your plants require 6-8 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.

Do you have loads more questions about full sun and its variables? We’ve gone deeper into our short answer in the post below, so please read on for all of the full sun questions you may have.

Macro closeup of light pink dahlia and purple calibrachoa flowers in crate on porch, What Does "Full Sun" Mean in Gardening?

Gardens And Full Sun

Whether you plant annuals, perennials, or vegetables, you know plants have sunlight requirements. If they need full sun, it means you need to have a planting spot that gets from 6-8 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. Perhaps you have the perfect place in mind, or maybe you’re unsure of the best spot. No worries, we’ve got all the answers so your plants will flower and fruit beautifully all through the growing months.

How Do You Measure Full Sun?

Full sun means your plant gets, at a minimum, six hours or more of sunlight per day. If you want a handy way to measure this, you can use a sunlight meter for the garden.

This 3-way meter measures moisture, light, and Ph. Adjust the setting for the reading you want.

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Full Sun Vs. Direct Sun

When it comes to gardening, there’s not any difference between these two terms, except for time. Full sun refers to the six hours or more of direct unfiltered sunlight that your plant needs. Direct sun refers to the sun’s ability to reach your plant with no interference from other plants or shadows shading it.

Do Plants Prefer Morning Or Afternoon Sun?

Morning or afternoon sun preference is specific to each plant. Morning sun, though it can be direct, is a cooler sun. Afternoon sun can be quite hot on a plant. Most plants do better with direct morning sun than with direct afternoon sun, though some plants, like tomatoes, need at least 8 hours of sunlight per day, love the afternoon sun.

Is Afternoon Sun Considered Full Sun?

Full sun can come in the morning or afternoon. However, if your plant needs partial sun, you might be able to get away with a total of six hours of morning sunlight, as it’s not as intense as afternoon sunlight. If your non-shaded plant is in the afternoon sun for six hours, it’s getting full sun. For flowers like annuals and vegetables, you’ll need to check their water regularly if they’re in the direct afternoon sunlight.

Why Is Afternoon Sun Hotter Than Morning Sun?

The afternoon sun is not hotter than the morning sun. What is more heated, though, is the temperature here on earth. It takes a while for the sun’s heat to warm up the atmosphere. That’s why the hottest part of the day is often a few hours after the noon hour. It simply takes that long for the sun to heat things. 

This hummingbird temperature gauge can be hung outdoors on a tree or the wall of your garden shed. You never have to be curious about the temperature if you have it handy.

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Is East-facing Considered Full Sun?

In general, because the sun rises in the East, your plants get morning sun on that side of your home. Depending on where the sun moves once it’s up, if you have tall shading trees, or your home’s shadow configuration, the east side of your home may not be the best choice for full-sun gardening. 

Watch the movement of the sun, see how long it stays on your proposed full sun location, and determine if your east-facing side is best for full sun plants.

This resin compass sculpture for your garden assures you’ll never forget which way is east.

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Can A Garden Get Too Much Sun?

It sure can. If you notice your plants leaves starting to brown on the edges from leaf scorch, it’s a sign they’re getting too much sun. This can happen in the deep heat of the summer. To mitigate this problem, consider using a garden shade or umbrella through the hottest months of the year. For potted and container plants, move them into a spot with a bit more shade.

A shade cloth like this one is a great temporary solution for protecting your plants from the hottest part of the day.

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Can Full Sun Plants Survive In Shade?

Your full sun plants may survive in the shade, but chances are they won’t thrive. Flowering plants will bloom less, or not at all without enough sunlight. The same goes for vegetables that require full sun. If planted in the shade, your yields will be smaller. 

Keep an eye out for other problems like stretched out or leggy stems, yellowed leaves, or slow growth. All of these signs indicate your plant is not getting enough sun.

Is It OK To Water Plants In The Sun?

For years, reports have said that watering in hot sunlight leads to leaf scorch. This notion is a myth. Experts say that although you will certainly lose water to evaporation by watering in high heat, you’re at no greater risk for leaf scorch by doing it. The same goes for the myth of not watering overhead with a sprinkler in full sun. It won’t hurt your plants, but it’s inefficient.

The best time to water your plants in the summer is in the earlier morning hours simply because the sun won’t evaporate it as quickly. Use a good soaker hose to thoroughly soak your plants’ roots for best practice water application.

Snake a soaker hose like this one through your garden for an easy way to feed the roots with liquid. These allow little droplets of water to escape all along the length of the hose, so every part of your garden gets watered.

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Where Does My Yard Get The Most Sun?

This is very specific to each person’s yard. You want to find a spot that is free of shadows from your trees or your home. In the Northern Hemisphere, south and west-facing areas of the garden are likely to have more sun, unless obstructed by a building or tall trees. 

The best test is to spend a day observing how the sun passes over your property. It changes slightly through the seasons, but then you have first-hand information.

Let The Sun Shine In

Hopefully, by now, you have a good idea of where to put those sun-loving plants. Gardening is such an adventure, and the best thing is, if you plant something in the wrong spot, you can always transplant it later. We hate to lose plants, but with the right trial and error, you can find the happiest location for each of them.

If you enjoyed this post here at GardenTabs.com, please check out a few of our others below:

Do Roses Need Sun Or Do They Grow In Shade?

19 Annuals for Afternoon Sun [Tips and PICTURES Included]

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