Why do plants grow differently in different spots?
At our teaching garden at Travis County Extension, we planted artichokes in two different spots.
Artichokes need full sun, but since we’re not there at all hours of the day (as often you are not at home), things were a bit deceptive. This applies not just to our artichokes, but to every plant!
One location for our artichokes appeared to be really sunny, but in fact, it only receives light until about noon and again later in the day. That plant did develop its silvery color and stayed more compact, but it’s never become as healthy and robust as it could be.
Another bed against the building appears to get sun at various times, but it turns to shade very quickly. That plant is much darker and taller.
Here’s why plants that like sun perform differently when given too much shade:
Plants grown in more shade than they prefer tend to grow taller, because they’re stretching to find the light. Shade-grown plants also need more chlorophyll to perform photosynthesis and feed themselves in lower light levels, so they’re darker green, compared to the same species grown in more sun.
So before you plant, be sure to analyze the entire path of the sun, making sure that the level of light is appropriate for the species. And don’t forget, the path of the sun changes with the season, being higher in the sky during the summer, and at a lower angle in the winter.
And also be aware that some plants that are labeled “full sun” actually may benefit from a bit of afternoon shade, especially in Texas! Experimentation is key, so don’t be afraid to move a plant, or replace it if it doesn’t do well after a season, which is what we plan to do with our artichokes.