When you are hit with the Gardening euphoria, pots, seeds and soil are the first things that come to mind.What is often forgotten is sunlight. It may be surprising to some beginner gardeners that plants can grow without soil but cannot grow without sunlight. Sunlight drives the biological process in plants known as ‘Photosynthesis’. Photosynthesis helps plants capture light energy and convert it into carbohydrates. This process is similar to humans consuming food and converting it to energy. Without light, plants cannot perform Photosynthesis, resulting in poor growth or sometimes death of the plant. Plants can be classified into three types based on their sunlight requirements.
Full sun plants: These are the sun loving plants and need to be placed at the brightest spots in your balcony or terrace to thrive. They need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day to grow. Most vegetable plants like Tomatoes, Okra or lady finger, Egg plant are full sun plants. Aloes, succulents and palms are also full sun plants. Now this does not mean these plants will grow better if exposed to more than 8 hours of sun. Even the full sun plants wither in intense summers.
Partial sun plants: Balcony gardeners do not have to be disappointed that most vegetable plants are sun loving. There are vegetable plants that only require 4-6 hours of sunlight per day to yield the best results. These are partial sun plants. Beet root, Broccoli and Cauliflower are examples. These can be also be ideal to grow during winters due to low sunlight requirement.
Minimum sun or Shade plants: Although light is food for plants, shade plants do not require as much light. They survive well in shade and sometimes thrive in shade. If your balcony receives no sunlight, these are the plants you should be choosing. They still require at least 2 hours of sunlight to make their food. Leafy greens or salad plants like Arugula generally do good with minimum sun. If you are keen to grow vegetables and your balcony does not receive much sunlight you can get best results with Beans, Peas, Carrots, Bell peppers and Radishes.
Note: Exposure to sunlight does not include light that passes through your windows or curtains. Plants require exposure to direct sunlight. Along with the amount of sunlight received, intensity of the sunlight also matters. If you live in cold climates, the sunlight requirements are higher. If you want to grow indoors, you can choose the minimum sunlight plants and place the plant in a spot that gets the maximum sunlight. Full sun plants like tomatoes can be grown indoors with use of artificial LED lights.