PLANTS FOR SHADED SITUATIONS

Some ornamental plants require shade or will do well or will tolerate a shaded or partially shaded location. They are mostly plants of the tropical rain forests. These forests have a huge tree layer, which is usually differentiated into three height levels. At the uppermost level are single trees, 50-60.m (160-200 ft) high. They have broad crowns which even though they do not form a closed canopy, reduce the intensity of the sunlight. The trees of the crowded middle level, 25-40 m (80-130 ft) high, have narrower crowns. The lower level of shrubs and trees, 10-15 m (30-50 ft) high, is composed of species that, at the very least, like partial shade. Furthermore, they are often covered with lianas trying to get at least a little more light. The herbaceous layer consists almost entirely of perennial species. The herbaceous layer has the smallest number of different species.

When growing house plants native to the tropical rain forest, bear in mind that they are mostly plants that grow in permanent shade and, if they do grow in light, then they do not tolerate direct sunlight. Larger glassed enclosures, such as a greenhouse or conservatory, should be shaded in summer with screens or by coating the glass with white or blue paint. Plants placed close by a window can be shaded quite simply by curtains or shutters. Otherwise, they can be moved farther away from the window for the duration of summer.

The effect of light on plants is not restricted to its duration and intensity. In a shaded location, the temperature on a plant’s surface is lower than that on a plant growing in the sun. The slower rate of evaporation in plants growing in partially shaded or shaded locations also plays a role. The tissues of such plants are far less adapted to the loss of water and to fluctuations between daytime and night-time temperatures.

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