Sunshine and gardening

Anne BrockOur Town Outdoors

Do you plan on gardening much this year? Chances are, you’ve been counting on and planning for power from the sun to make that happen. The photosynthesis that kids study about in elementary school is largely dependent on the sun’s energy to help plants produce their own sugar and grow. Southern exposure gives your plants an advantage of gathering more sunlight. Just how many hours of sunlight do they need?

According to the University of Tennessee Extension’s Tennessee Home Fruit & Vegetable Garden Calendar: “Sunlight — Vegetables need full sun locations for good growth and yield. Fruiting crops require 6 to 8 hours per day and some leafy crops, like lettuce, may be able to grow with 4-6 hours per day.”

Tomatoes famously soak up lots of sun to thrive! They’re popular on Grainger County hillsides or in your own backyard. Rutgers University gardening advice is to be sure your tomatoes receive at least 8 full hours of sunlight each day.

What if you’re designing an entire backyard landscape of decorative plants? UT has a detailed guide to help with that, as you plan where to place them. In this guide, plants designated as needing “sun” require at least 6 hours of sunlight in the middle of the day or afternoon. Several popular landscaping plants will still thrive in partial sunlight, per the guide.

The city of Lexington, Kentucky, offers a free catalog of landscape planting ideas based on what works in sun, partial sun and shade. This includes diagrams for your front or backyard, symmetrical or asymmetrical designs with various plants. It’s called “Plant by Numbers,” and is available here online.

What if your garden area is heavily shaded? East Tennessee is a great place for hostas, ferns, daylilies and many more that enjoy growing in the shade.

Anne Brock is marketing coordinator for  She can be reached at: 865-221-8349 or [email protected]


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