Gardening Tips: Tropical Plants That Don’t Need Full Sun

red leaf flowering tropical plant of thailand

Believe it or not, many of the beautiful plants and flowers in the tropical environment of Phuket absolutely love a little bit of shade – really flourishing when they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight or the entirety of the day, but instead really coming into their own with a bit of overhead cover and protection.


Most every major garden center in Phuket is going to have a whole host of plants that will be close set with one another, hiding under the cover of a bit of shade. Usually this shade is provided by a green mesh material that still allows the nourishing rays of the sun to touch the plants, just breaking up the directness of the sunlight enough to provide a bit of cover and protection so that these plants can explode in growth and productivity.


The majority of these plants are herbaceous, grown specifically to show off the lush, rich, and very foliage that they are capable of producing. Unfortunately – for one reason or another – a lot of us homeowners love to move these plants indoors, locking them up inside our centrally heated and air-conditioned properties and destroying their chance to thrive along the way.


In the tropical region of Phuket, however, these plants have the ability to flourish in a way that just isn’t possible indoors. Many of these plants naturally seek out the cover and protection of the natural canopy one can find throughout the tropical region of Phuket, finding spots of shade and filtered sections of sunlight to bask in the warm glow of the sun without exposing themselves to direct sun rays that would break them down and otherwise wreak havoc on their cellular structure.


green aglaonemas plant outdoorsThe overwhelming majority of these plants – Maidenhair, Bird’s Nest Ferns, Dieffenbachias, and Aglaonemas – exist primarily in the dense rain forest areas of Phuket as their natural habitat. These plants are incredibly capable and adept at utilizing the small amounts of light they would have captured in the wild, surviving and even thriving in the kinds of sun blocked conditions that other plants would have been devastated by.


Mother Nature has helped these plants adapt to their conditions, finding ways to absorb far red light (close on the spectrum to infrared light) through the broad and leafy foliage to provide them with the sustenance that all plants require through the process of photosynthesis.


Most impressive is the fact that unlike vines that climb anywhere between 60 and 100 feet or more to weave their way in a parasitic fashion through the canopy until they get the sunlight that they need, these plants stay down on the ground – usually much lower to the ground than anyone would have expected them to – while spreading out into a wider area to capture as much of the diffused sunlight that breaks through the overhead coverage as possible.


single leaf of tropic snow plantPlants like the Tropic Snow can grow incredibly large and has wide leaves to capture as much sun as they can, with the leaves themselves attaining upwards of a foot and a half wide in length to gobble up the sunlight. These kinds of plants in particular aren’t all that happy to exist in direct sunlight – though they can tolerate a few hours each day without any coverage.


If you’re thinking of adding any of these varieties to your garden, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t subjecting these kinds of plants did too much sunlight (especially if you bring them indoors and situate them near the window), has nothing will kill them faster than overexposure.


At the end of the day, you’ll want to look out for these kinds of shade hungry plants as much as possible. Keep them away from the sun, diffuse direct sunlight that comes in contact with them, provide them with plenty of water on a regular basis, and without too much micro-managing they will flourish in ways you never could have expected!


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