December 5, 2018 Some plants need quite a bit of sun in order to thrive, while others do well in shade. Do you know how much sun your trees need? Sun Exposure Basics When planting new trees, it is important to be aware of how much sun they need because it does affect their growth. In particular, if you are planting seedlings, you need to know whether they will do well in full sunlight, partial shade or full shade. Full sun doesn’t necessarily mean full sun all day long. Six hours of sun during the day is considered full sun. A tree planted in an area where it receives cool morning light and becomes shaded in the afternoon should do well. The roots of the tree can be protected from afternoon heat and assisted in holding moisture if a good layer of mulch is placed around the base of the tree. Partial sun and partial shade are terms that may be used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Partial sun means that the tree will thrive when it gets enough sun, but not too much. Three-to-six hours is good. When a tree requires partial shade, consider planting it in a spot that will get more shade than sun, especially in the afternoon when the sun is warmest. Planting on the east side of a building, where it will be shielded later in the day, is a perfect choice. The Importance of Sun Exposure You may remember photosynthesis from science class. It is the process by which green plants use the sun to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. The wide variety of trees has a wide range of sunlight needs. Some require full sun while others do better in shaded areas. This need for more or less sun has to do with the trees’ photosynthesis. Photosynthesis produces food for the tree. As humans know, too little food or too much and you can get weak or even die. It is the same for trees. If a tree gets more sun than it needs or doesn’t get enough, the photosynthesis is affected and a young tree may become weak and in some instances may die. Most trees require plenty of sun. A tree in full shade, one that receives two or fewer hours of sun, may struggle to survive as this small amount of sunlight will inhibit the photosynthesis process. Some trees tolerate shade well, however many do not and will grow stunted at best unless they have the correct amount of sun. The amount of sun a tree requires will also affect its foliage, flowering, and fruiting characteristics. For this reason, position and shade need to be taken into consideration when planting trees. If you have larger trees that throw shade in an area you are thinking about planting, you need to be aware of how much sun will be available for the new tree. A new tree may look quite hardy at the time of planting, however, if it is one that needs a significant amount of sun in order to thrive, it may not grow well in the shade of a larger tree. On the other hand, a new tree that will thrive in partial shade may grow weak and wither if it is planted in a place where it receives constant sun. Strategic Planting Sun exposure is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to making sure your trees will thrive and do well. There are additional factors that come into play, such as soil composition, resistance to disease, space, and other considerations. Before you choose a tree or trees to plant, check out their requirements and plant accordingly. Over the years, if the trees thrive, their size will change, so it is good to know how those changes will affect growth patterns. For example, if you were to plant a Tartarian Maple tree, which can grow to be 25 feet tall, and a dwarf Montmorency cherry tree within that range, eventually the maple would cast a shadow over the cherry tree. The dwarf cherry tree reaches a height of 8 feet. It may not produce as well in the shadow of the maple when both trees reach maturity. Take the time to learn about the trees you want to plant and map out your plan to give your trees the best chance of growing strong and healthy. With strategic planning, your work will last through the years. Your great-grandchildren may eat the fruit of the cherry tree you plant today. They may decorate the blue spruce trees that you decided would make a bold statement at the end of the drive. When you pause to ponder, planting a tree is like forging a bridge between the present and future. The trees you plant today may well play a role in some of the fondest stories told at family gatherings in the future. We have dedicated professionals at Front Range Arborists who can help you decide what trees to plant and we will help you give them the care they need to thrive. In addition to professional consultation, we also provide tree and shrub pruning, stump and tree removal, fertilization and other services. Contact us for more information.