The Best Ways To Shade Your Plants In The Sun

Shade cloth in black covers the large hoop greenhouse structure to protect plants from the sun.

Adding a shade cover to protect your garden from damaging heat radiation will provide relief to your plants. But how do you provide shade over your plants while they are sitting in the sun?

As all of you know shade is a word people use to describe relief from the intense heat of the sun. And adding shade to protect your plants from direct afternoon sunlight will prevent the possibility of heat stress and sunburn.

Moreover, adjusting the right level of heat intensity is a must, particularly on young tender plants.

Each plant has different sunlight requirements to produce energy for growth and set flowers. But excessive sun exposure can cause irreparable damage such as sunburn or it might cause the plant to bolt hastily.

That’s why shading your garden with a lightweight shade cover when the temperature is at the hottest peak will help your struggling plants to stay cool.

But shading plant options can vary and will depend on what type of plant needs protection and their tolerance of excessive heat.

How Do You Shade Plants From The Sun?

As we all know, shade varies in terms of size and strength. Sounds weird but if you think about it, it’s true. But most importantly, anything that blocks the sun’s rays will act as sunscreen for your plants, regardless of the degree it provides.

But you must be wondering how to help your plants thrive under the hottest sun temperatures of the day?

So, let’s read on and learn how to add shade cloth for plants in your garden and protect them from solar radiation, particularly on hot summer days.

Besides, sunburn, wilting, and dehydration are considered fatal factors to your plants caused by the intense heat of the sun.

Afternoon Shade Ideas to Keep Your Plant Cool

Some garden designs such as shade cloth covers for plants, sunflowers, umbrellas, and vining plants in arbors or pergolas will not only add curb to your garden landscape but protection too.

They are excellent in providing shade, not only for your vegetables in the garden but to all that need some relief from the heatwave of the scorching sun.  

Create Shade With A Garden Cloth

Shade cloth in white on two small hoops and the garden canopy.
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Providing a cooling relief by adding a shade cloth cover when the sun’s intensity is at its highest can make a big difference to your plants.

It is an inexpensive way to provide relief to your plants. Besides, shade cloth covers are useful in many applications aside from your garden.

You can add shade cloth to cover the shade house skeleton or greenhouse glazing in the summer. It will help reduce the amount of solar heat that reaches your plants.

Yes, adding a shade cover in some garden structure is helpful to your plants. It is especially beneficial when young seedlings establish and harden off.

A sunshade for plants made of loosely woven fabric comes in varying shade densities, approximately 5% to 95%. And it is permeable. It allows rainwater, sprinklers, and irrigation systems to help keep your plants hydrated.

Yet, when considering a garden shade fabric to cover your garden, hold them several inches above the plants. Doing so will not trap the heat that may likely add stress to the growing plants.

And when installed correctly, the garden shade netting allows you to adjust the amount of light penetration your plants will be receiving.

Two Types of Shade Cloth Material

Combining the benefits of both the greenhouse shade cloth cover with the fair amount of ventilation will create a perfect temperature for your plants to thrive.

However, the amount of shade and ventilation necessary depends on what types of plants you are growing.

The woven (polypropylene) and knitted (polyethylene) are the two types of sunshade cloth you will find in most garden landscapes. And both are available in various sizes.

In addition to the material, both have density percentages ranging between 5% to 95%.

Both woven and knitted shade cloths come with advantages and disadvantages. And to help you determine which one fits your plant’s needs, let me give you a clear overview of both materials.

Knitted Shade Cloth (Made of lightweight polyethylene)

  • UV Resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install 
  • 8-10 year lifespan
  • Allow for 2-3% stretch or shrinkage
  • Resists tears and unraveling
  • Resists wind damage with open lockstitch design
  • Reduces heat build-up inside structures 
  • Resists most horticultural chemicals and detergents
  • Comes in various colors
  • Less expensive
  • Suitable for shade houses, greenhouses, and hothouses.

Woven Shade Cloth (Made of 100% polypropylene)

  • UV resistant sunscreen
  • Sturdy and durable
  • 12 year life span
  • Lightweight
  • Easy installation
  • Strong stretching resistant
  • Windproof
  • Taped edges to resist fraying
  • In various colors
  • More expensive than knitted shade cloth
  • Suitable for pet kennels, shading for patios, windscreens, privacy screens, and solar protection for plants.
 Percentages (Everything You Need To Know)

But what density percentage of shade cloth must you use to protect the plants in your garden?

Sunlight is crucial to the plants’ growth. And choosing the right density to help your plants thrive is essential.

Garden shade covers have different density percentages ranging from 5% to 95%. And depending on the amount of sunlight your plants require will determine the denseness of shade cloth you need.

A shade cover with 30% shade cloth density also means that 30% of the light is blocked, and the remaining 70% can pass through and reach the plants.

With that being said, providing the right amount of light that your plants need is essential.

And to help you determine the density percentages appropriate for your plants, check out the following examples below.

  • 30%  – Shade cloth with density ranging from 30% is ideal for heat-tolerant plants. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, and peppers.
  • 40% to 50% – This range is ideal for flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables.
  • 60% – Best for plants and herbs that prefer partial shade such as lettuce, greens, spinach, dill, parsley, and cilantro.
  • 75% – Often used to provide shade for animals and plants like ferns & orchids.
  • 90% – Commonly used as a ground cover to prevent weed growth, or as a privacy screening to maximize shade protection.

Note: Hanging covers high enough above the plants is the key to maximizing the optimal potential of shade cloth.

Allow a sufficient amount of ventilation to prevent the build-up of heat underneath the greenhouse or other enclosed shade structures.

Create Shade with Sunflowers

A beautiful sunflower in bloom.

Some tall plants in your garden can help protect plants that prefer partial sunlight.

And planting a row of tall plants like corn or sunflowers facing the south or west side of your vegetable garden can make a difference in the amount of sunlight the shorter plants will receive.

Sunflowers are one of those plants that grow easily. It can shoot up quickly in a short period of time to attain a full-height of about 1.5 to 4 meters.

This height is helpful to various plants that prefer dappled shade. And depending on the variety of plants you are growing, sunflowers can cast shadows where they grow.

Create Shade With An Outdoor Umbrella

A luxurious setup of lounge chairs and a large patio umbrella complement the hedge garden and pool.
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Without a doubt adding an outdoor umbrella will not only add curb to your landscape but will also provide shade and protect your plants from the scorching afternoon sun.

Using an outdoor umbrella can both protect you and your plants from the sun. It will help block excessive afternoon heat that may likely cause permanent damage to your plants.

Also, you can move and angle the umbrella to provide shade to the plants that need it the most. But don’t forget to take it down when you expect strong winds. You can also tilt the umbrella in the morning so plants can receive moderate sunlight.

Vining Plants As Shade Cover

Climbing rose in wooden pergola with massive white blooms.

Aside from adding texture and color to your garden, pergolas and arbors are structures used for centuries to enhance the beauty of garden landscapes.

These elegant garden structures can hold up vines to create shade and provide a diffused light gentle enough to help plants grow healthy.

Annual and perennial climbing vines can quickly cover the garden structure. And these plants produce lush foliage and beautiful blooms. As a result, they provide sun screening and shade beneficial to you and your plants in the garden.

Vining plants such as honeysuckle, trumpet vine, sweet autumn clematis, Virginia creeper, Chinese wisteria, English ivy, Vinca minor, and Emerald gaiety euonymus are the best perennial vining plants you can use to create shade.

However, keep in mind that not all climbing vines are suitable as shading plants. There are many species considered to be invasive and may likely overwhelm your garden structure.

Create Instant Shade With A Shade Dot

Two portable shade dots in white to provide shade in container-grown flowering plants.
Image by: Pinterest

A shade dot next to your plants is another way to protect them from the scorching sun. It acts as a mini-greenhouse, whether you’re growing plants in potted containers in a terrace garden, in-ground, or in raised beds.

It requires no rigging, and also you should bathe your plants with soft diffused light at the hottest hours of the day.

And using a shade dot to provide shade to your plants is easy. Adjust the angle and height to block the intense rays. Moreover, it’s structural design will add style to your gorgeous garden landscape.

This innovative sunshade cover made of semi-transparent UV-coated, corrugated polypropylene is lightweight and sturdy. It is ideal both for rain or shine use.

And the disk-like instant shade provider is weather-resistant. It can insulate and keep a cooling breeze your plants need.

Reasons to Provide Afternoon Shade To Your Plants

A collection of dark or bleached spots on the leaves or hardening of the soil beneath the plant is the most obvious sign you will find if your plant is suffering from the sun.

And leaves wilting, turning pale or yellowish-green, are also signs of too much sunlight exposure.

Building a shade cover for plants often seems overwhelming, but it is inexpensive and so much easier than you might think.

However, knowing where and when you need one can make a big difference in providing relief to your plants.

1) Get full morning sun and diffused light on the hottest part of the day.

Getting a full morning sun allows the plants to grow to their full potential. Also, it gives the plant plenty of energy through photosynthesis. And providing an afternoon shelter will relieve a lot of the heat buildup inside the garden shade structure.

One of the essential aspects of having an efficient shade garden is knowing when your plants need some shelter.

2) Help reduce the amount of moisture loss through transpiration.

We know the afternoon is the hottest part of the day, and in May, June through August or September are the hottest months of the year.

And providing shade covers for your plants will help reduce the possibility of moisture loss through transpiration.

What this means is that a permanent overhead shade structure isn’t necessary as long as you can provide shading relief to your plants at this period.

However, a permanent shade structure can be an excellent addition if it is over a BBQ area next to your garden.

Aside from that, a temporary shading structure is sufficient as plants don’t need shade covering them all year long.

3) Help plants cope with heat stress because of fluctuating temperatures. 

The fluctuating temperature is quite a challenging period gardeners have to deal with.

Moreover, the rise in temperatures can cause lasting damage to plant growth. And it is a fatal threat to your plants when neglected.

The plant’s ability to manage heat stress varies within developmental stages. And in response to heat stress, plants show versatility upon changes.

However, to enhance a plant’s ability to survive high temperatures, taking action to relieve stress will probably save them from the unfavorable conditions of extreme temperatures.

Final Thoughts On Shading Your Plants

The rise of temperature and dealing with heat stress in summer can be frustrating for many gardeners.

And to protect plants from scorching temperatures is another job gardeners need to deal with, particularly in the hottest months of the year.

However, managing the shade in your garden is simple and easy if you know your plant’s requirements.

Shade can mean anything from dappled light to the total dark conditions under a canopy of giant trees. And plants that prefer light shade are less likely to survive below dense trees.

To define degrees of sun and shade, gardeners measure based on the percentage of sunlight intensity. And shade cloth manufacturers produce garden shade cloth covers with density based on the plant’s shade requirements.

If you know how the plant grows in the garden you are concerned with, you can adjust and manage the level of shade suitable to your plant’s needs seasonally.

To get the most out of your garden, provide shade when it is most wanted in summer and remove it in colder months when plants demand an ample amount of sun exposure. And that’s a wrap! If you have any questions about shading your plants, feel free to comment below.


About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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