Sun or Shade? Choosing Outdoor Plants for Your Garden

When shopping for outdoor plants, one of the most important considerations is whether they’ll be growing in the sunshine or in the shade. After all, a plant that requires full sun won’t thrive in the shade, and a shade-loving plant will quickly die if you put it in direct sunlight.
outdoor plants
Sometimes the sun or shade question has an obvious answer – but that isn’t always the case. Our best advice is to pay attention to when and where the sun shines on your property throughout the day, then visit your local garden center to shop for plants that are well-suited for your particular growing conditions.

Outdoor Plants for Morning Sun & Afternoon Shade

If sunlight shines over your northern Utah landscape in the morning, you should have plenty of garden center plants to choose from – but you’ll need to know how long the sunshine lasts. If you only get about two or three hours, consider shade-tolerant annuals and perennial flowers, shrubs and landscaping trees. For gardens with sun that lasts until at least the middle of the day, go with any plant that prefers full sun.

Outdoor Plants for Morning Shade & Afternoon Sun

Choosing the right plants for this sunlight situation can be a challenge, as shade-tolerant species usually can’t handle the afternoon sunshine. That said, many annual and perennial flowers, as well as a range of beautiful bushes, shrubs and landscaping trees, can adapt to these growing conditions.

You might not see gardening success with every choice, but no one – not even garden center professionals – sees every plant thrive.

Outdoor Plants for Partial Sun & Shade

Does your landscape get partial sun or partial shade?

Many gardeners refer to this situation as dappled light, and here’s where choosing the right plants gets a bit tricky. Generally speaking, when there’s more shade than sun, plants that prefer shade are your best bet. And, when there’s more sunlight than shade, select species that favor full sun.

You can also help your flowers and shrubs thrive by amending the soil to provide necessary nutrients and watering on a schedule that’s most appropriate for the plants and the weather conditions. Adding mulch is also a great way to help your plants retain precious moisture that daily sun exposure can extract.

If you’re not sure which outdoor plants are best suited to the growing conditions on your northern Utah property, stop by Millcreek Gardens for expert advice from our friendly, knowledgeable plant nursery professionals.

Tell the Millcreek Gardens team about the sun and shade in your landscape, and we’ll guide you toward annuals, perennial flowers, shrubs and landscaping trees with matching needs. For help choosing the right outdoor plants for your garden, visit our Salt Lake City garden center today.