How much sunlight do plants really need?

By November 18, 2019January 26th, 2021No Comments
sunlight for plants

Sunlight is as important to the health of your plants as the soil and water. Identify the signs of too little and too much sun, and what do to about it.


Every plant needs light to grow and flourish. Plants use light to perform a vital process known as photosynthesis, whereby they turn light into sugars. Therefore the more light a plant is exposed to, the more energy it will create and the faster it will grow!

Quantity of light

You will often read that a particular species of plant prefers a certain amount of light. Often plants producing fruits, vegetables and flowers require more light. These plants may struggle if they are not receiving enough light.

Indoors Versus Outside

Outdoor plants receive much more sunlight than indoor plants. Even the heaviest outdoor shade provides more light than the sunniest indoor window. When a plant is indoors, light is usually coming from one source, such as a window.

Too little or too much sun

As you walk through your garden, you can perform a visual check on the condition of your plants. If your plants are drying out, burnt, faded or drooping, they may be receiving too much sun. On the flip side, if your plants are growing sparsely, have lanky and spindly branches, fewer flowers or flower buds falling off, they may not be receiving enough sun.

Just the right amount of sun

Optimising your plant’s sunlight is very important. Some simple ways to tell if your plants are getting enough sun include vibrant leaf colour and plant lean. Healthy thriving plants have dark green leaves. Leaning is a side effect of the plant’s search for light.

Ways to improve sun exposure in your garden

There are a few ways you can enhance a garden that is lacking enough sunlight. First, if you have any large trees in your garden blocking sunlight from other plants, you may need to have the crown of your tree thinned to improve the health of the rest of your plants. Secondly, paint any fences and buildings surrounding your garden white to maximise light reflection. Finally, if you plant your garden in rows from north to south, it can help improve the overall sun exposure.



Other great resources