How much light is required for plants?


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I have been curious about low light plants because we have so much shade around our house. I was using a light meter to understand different areas with a little more *ahem* illumination as to how plants might fare in the various shade areas.
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In trying to read up on lighting, I am running across publications like this that are enlightening. It is one more dimension to understand before planting, but certainly at the change of season so too the light changes, and I want to understand the weaker winter sun as we near the winter solstice as well as what will be the solar intensity around the summer solstice.
 
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One thing I have learned about plants and light is basically that the size and shape of the leaves are an indicator of light requirements. Large flat leaves require less light than slender leaves. This is because of chlorophyll which uses the energy of sunlight to make sugars and nutrients out of the water and carbon dioxide. So, the less light that is available, larger leaves and more chlorophyll are required for growth. I know this explanation is overly simplified and many plants don't follow it exactly but one can more or less determine what will or won't grow in a particular area just by looking at the size and shape of the leaves.
 

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