When I was selecting plants for my new shade garden this year, I just assumed that the ubiquitous Hostas would form its foundation. That was until I encountered the wonderful selection of Coleus! There is not a hosta in my shade garden. I feel like a heretic. But, this post isn't really about Coleus. It is about light conditions and Coleus.

Taken on Memorial Day, 2017

The care instructions with my several varieties of Coleus all said "Part sun or shade." That makes it sound like it is perfectly acceptable either way, doesn't it? Well, the east side of the garden gets about half a day of direct sunlight; the other half gets only indirect light. Have a look at these two Wizard Scarlet Coleus. One is in the east (sunny) part; the other is in the northwest part (shady).

Coleus with 6 hours of direct sunlight.

This specimen has half a day of sun and it apparently approves. It is about 21" tall and "22 wide. By the way, the sunlight is morning and early afternoon sun. Next, have a look at this one, about 8 feet away.

Coleus with only indirect light.

This coleus is about 8' away from the first one and is in the northwest part of the garden. It receives plenty of indirect light, but no direct sunlight. It is 12" tall and 10" wide. It is half the other one's size! They were purchased and planted on the same day and were roughly the same size. So, there's the rest of the story.

Well, almost. On the care instruction tag, it also gives you spacing instructions. Interestingly, for these Coleus, it says to space them 12" apart. That is correct for the smaller specimen - in the shade. The one on steroids, apparently thanks to direct sunlight, is twice that size and still growing. I must have had a premonition when planting it, because it still has room to grow before it starts bumping into things.

So, according to my very unscientific research, direct sunlight makes at least some plants considered shade-loving get much bigger with direct sunlight. That was some plants, not all. I'll keep you posted.