Lemon myrtles are gorgeous evergreen trees known for their lemon-scented leaves. Lemon myrtles are native to subtropical environments in Queensland, Australia. In this article, we’ll discover how much sunlight lemon myrtles need.
The Role of Sunlight in Plant Health and Development
Sunlight is vital for lemon myrtle plants because it is a crucial part of photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight using chlorophyll – the green pigment in their leaves. The solar energy is then mixed with carbon dioxide and water to produce glucose, also known as sugar.
Glucose is vital for plants because it acts as a fuel source. By burning glucose, plants can manufacture cellulose, which is the material that forms new plant tissues. Oxygen is also created as a byproduct of photosynthesis, which plants release back into the atmosphere.
Different types of plants need varying amounts of sunlight. This often depends on their native environment. If plants don’t get enough light, they will struggle to produce healthy new stems, leaves, and flowers.
Types of Sunlight Explained
Sunlight is usually categorized into four main types; full sun, partial sun, partial shade, and full shade. Here’s a brief overview of each category:
Plants that need full sun should receive approximately 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Many plants that require full sun are drought-tolerant and grow in hot, arid environments.
Partial Sun or Partial Shade
Plants that prefer partial sun or partial shade need between 3 and 6 hours of direct sunlight in the morning. These plants then need shade for the rest of the day. Plants that need partial sun can tolerate slightly more direct sun than those requiring partial shade.
Plants that like full shade only need a few hours of sunlight daily. These plants usually live on the forest floor in woodland or jungle habitats.
Other Sunlight Considerations
Sunlight changes in intensity during its daily journey across the sky. Morning sunlight is less intense than afternoon sunlight. Most plants, including lemon myrtles, prefer receiving direct sun in the morning rather than the afternoon.
Due to its higher intensity, direct afternoon sunlight can damage lemon myrtle plants. The harsh sunlight can burn or scorch vulnerable leaves, especially younger shoots.
Garden aspects can help you influence when a plant receives direct sunlight during the day. These aspects correspond to the points of the compass. East-facing aspects receive direct sunlight early in the morning while west-facing aspects receive direct sunlight in the afternoon.
When choosing which plants to add to your garden, consider whether you can accommodate their sunlight requirements. Plants that like full sun require south or west-facing aspects. Plants that thrive in full shade need east or north-facing aspects.
How Much Sunlight Does Lemon Myrtle Need?
Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) thrives in full sun, especially in USDA Zones 10 and 11. They need at least six hours of full sun daily, preferably in the morning. Lemon myrtle leaves can burn when exposed to too much direct afternoon sunlight.
Although lemon myrtles grow best in full sun, these evergreens tolerate partial shade in hot, arid climates. The extra shade protects lemon myrtles from intense sunlight and limits how quickly they dry out.
South or west-facing aspects are ideal for lemon myrtles and provide plenty of sunlight throughout the day. In hotter areas, grow lemon myrtles in east or southeast-facing aspects to provide partial shade.
Lemon myrtles are subtropical plants that grow best in Zones 10 and 11. As such, lemon myrtles cannot tolerate cold temperatures that drop below 60ºF (15ºC) at night. Plant lemon myrtles in sheltered locations in full sun to protect them against cold winds.
Lemon Myrtle Sunlight FAQs:
Are Lemon Myrtles Fast Growing?
Lemon myrtles are considered to be slow-growing plants and take a few years to mature. They can live for several decades in the right conditions.
What is the Best Soil for Lemon Myrtle?
Lemon myrtles need well-draining soils that hold some moisture. They also need fertile soils that are neutral to slightly acidic.
Can You Grow Lemon Myrtle in Pots?
Lemon myrtles can be grown in large pots, especially if you live outside of Zones 10 and 11. Growing lemon myrtles in pots makes it easier to protect them against cold temperatures.
Lemon myrtles need at least six hours of full sunlight daily, preferably in the morning. Lemon myrtles can also tolerate partial shade. Grow lemon myrtles in south or west-facing aspects in Zones 10 and 11.
For more, see our in-depth guide to growing and caring for lemon myrtles.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.
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