shade cloth for greenhouse


Greenhouses are recognized for their role in extending growing seasons, protecting plants, and cultivating a diverse range of plant species. However, as beneficial as these structures can be, managing the amount of sunlight that reaches your plants is crucial. Too much direct sunlight can scorch, dehydrate, or even kill your beloved plants, while insufficient light can hinder their growth. Shade cloth with different percentages is designed to moderate sunlight, ensuring that plants receive just the right amount of light they need.

This article explores the world of shade cloth, from understanding their various percentages to evaluating their impact on photosynthesis and plant yield. As seasons change, so do the sunlight’s intensity and duration. This, in turn, affects the type of shade fabric that would be most beneficial for your greenhouse at a given time.

Moreover, not all plants thrive under the same conditions; some require bright light, while others prefer shade. Thus, determining the optimal shade cloth percentage for your specific plants and greenhouse conditions can dramatically affect their health and productivity.

greenhouse shade cloth

| Key Takeaways:

  • The best percentage shade cloth for your greenhouse depends on the plants you’re growing and your climate.
  • Typically, 30-50% shade cloth is suitable for most plants, offering protection from intense sun while allowing sufficient light. In hotter areas or for more delicate plants, 50-70% might be necessary.
  • Assess your specific situation, considering plant types, climate, and season, to choose the most appropriate shade level.

Benefits Of Using Shade Cloth In Greenhouse

While greenhouses specialize in optimizing light for plant growth, striking the right balance is key. Shade cloths play an essential role in this balance. These are especially useful tools that can enhance the greenhouse environment in various ways.

  • Temperature Regulation: One of the primary benefits of a shade cloth is its ability to regulate temperature. During the hot summer months, a greenhouse can get too hot for some plants. Shade fabric can help moderate these temperatures, ensuring that plants don’t suffer from excessive heat.
  • Reduction of Water Evaporation: High temperatures can increase the rate of water evaporation from the soil and plant surfaces. Using a shade net in a greenhouse means you might not have to water plants as often, saving water and keeping plants wet for longer.
  • Protection from Weather Elements: Although greenhouses protect plants from many external threats, challenges like hail or intense sunlight can still damage plants. Shade cloths add an extra layer of protection, safeguarding plants from potential damage.
  • Improved Plant Health and Yield: By providing plants with a more stable and optimized environment, shade netting can lead to better plant health. This not only means healthier plants but, in the case of crops, can also result in increased yields.
  • Flexibility in Planting: Different plants have varying sunlight needs. Using shade cloth, growers can modify sunlight exposure to meet the different needs of various plants. This means a wider range of plants can be cultivated in one place.

What You Need To Know About Shade Cloth Percentage

Shade cloth offers various percentages to modulate sunlight intensity. Shade percentages are integral to the successful growth and protection of plants.

What Does Shade Percentage Mean

At its core, a shade cloth’s percentage signifies the amount of sunlight it can block. For instance:

  • 30% shade cloth: This allows 70% of sunlight to pass through, blocking 30%.
  • 50% shade cloth: This blocks 50% of the sunlight, letting the other half through.
  • 70% shade cloth: This lets through only 30% of sunlight, keeping out 70%.
  • 90% shade cloth: This allows only 10% of sunlight to pass through, blocking 90%.

Shade Percentage

It’s a simple inverse relationship: the higher the shade percentage, the less sunlight gets through.

Which Shade Percentage is Right for You

Different plants and climates require different shade percentages. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • 30% Shade: This level of shading is relatively light, making it suitable for plants that require a lot of sunlight but still need some protection. Examples might include certain types of vegetables or flowers that thrive in sunlight but can get burned during the hottest parts of the day.
  • 50% Shade:This is a medium level of shading and can be used for a variety of plants. It’s beneficial for plants that require moderate sunlight but need protection from the intense midday sun. It’s often used in nurseries, greenhouses, or for plants that are transitioning from shaded areas to full sun.
  • 70% Shade: This provides a higher level of shading and is suitable for plants that prefer a more shaded environment or are sensitive to sunlight. It can be used for ferns, orchids, or other shade-loving plants. This level of shade can also be beneficial for protecting animals in outdoor settings, like chicken runs or pet enclosures, from excessive sun exposure.
  • 90% Shade: This is a very high level of shading and is typically used for situations where minimal sunlight is desired. It’s ideal for certain sensitive plants that can be damaged by even small amounts of direct sunlight. It can also be used in outdoor areas where people gather and want to be shielded from the sun, like patios or play areas.

Each shading rate serves different purposes, and the right choice depends on the specific requirements of the application.

How Shade Cloth Percentage Affect Plants in Greenhouse

Photosynthesis is the backbone of plant growth, ensuring that plants get the right amount of light is paramount.

Impact On Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy, resulting in the production of glucose and oxygen. For this to occur optimally, plants require an appropriate light intensity. Too little light can stunt growth, while too much can cause damage to the plant cells or even burn the foliage.

Impact On Plant Yield

Shade doesn’t only affect growth, it also influences the yield of fruiting and flowering plants. For example, tomatoes may yield bigger and juicier fruits under medium shade. This is because shade cloth shields them from extreme sunlight that might negatively affect their fruiting. In nature, these plants typically grow under tree cover.

Too much shade, however, can lead to leggy plants with fewer fruits or flowers as the plants stretch searching for light. Conversely, plants that get too much sunlight without enough shade can show hindered growth and lesser yields. This is due to cell damage or too much water loss from the plant.

Best Shade Cloth Percentage For Diverse Greenhouse Plant

Greenhouses offer an optimal environment for various plants to thrive, but not all plants have the same light requirements. Some plants need direct sunlight to flourish, while others might need more protection from the sun’s intensity. When choosing a shade cloth percentage for your greenhouse, it’s essential to consider the specific plants you’re cultivating.

Succulent shade cloth Orchid shade cloth

  • Succulents and Cacti: These desert natives are used to direct sunlight. They thrive in high-light conditions, which means they require little to no shade in a greenhouse environment. When growing plants suited for a desert environment, a shade cloth that blocks about 10-20% of sunlight might be enough. This mainly keeps them safe from the harshest midday sun.
  • Leafy Greens: Lettuce, kale, and spinach, among others, prefer cooler conditions. Too much direct sunlight can cause them to bolt or wilt. For plants needing more protection, a shade cloth that blocks 50-70% of sunlight is ideal. This ensures they get enough light but don’t overheat.
  • Fruiting Vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers need lots of sunlight to produce a bountiful harvest. However, they don’t need as much light as cacti. Shading net between 30-50% might be just right. It gives plants the sunlight they need and shields them during the hottest times.
  • Orchids and Tropical Plants: These plants are accustomed to growing under tree canopies in their natural habitats. They typically require more shade than other plants. A shade net of 50-80% might be ideal for cultivating these delicate beauties, ensuring they receive filtered light similar to their natural environment.
  • Herbs: Many common herbs, like basil, thyme, and oregano, enjoy direct sunlight but can be sensitive to extreme heat. Choosing a 40-60% shade cloth can offer a good balance. It protects plants during the sunniest hours but still lets in enough light for growth.
  • Flowers: Depending on the species, flower light requirements can vary widely. Petunias and marigolds enjoy full sunlight, so a 20-40% shade cloth might suffice. In contrast, flowers like impatiens, which are accustomed to dappled forest light, might appreciate a 50-70% shade fabric.

Best Shade Cloth Percentage For Different Growth Periods

Every plant goes through various growth periods, from initial germination to maturity. Each of these phases has its unique set of needs, which includes light requirements.

Seedling shade cloth Fruiting shade net

Female hand holding tomato on organic farm

  • Seedling Phase: This is a delicate phase for most plants. Young seedlings can be extremely sensitive to direct sunlight, which might cause them to wilt or burn. Using a higher percentage shade cloth (such as 50% or more) can be beneficial to protect them from intense sunlight while still allowing them enough light for growth.
  • Vegetative Phase: As plants grow larger, their light needs might change. Typically, during the vegetative phase, plants require ample sunlight to encourage lush and healthy growth. For this stage, a lower percentage shade net, perhaps around 30% to 40%, can be more appropriate to ensure plants get enough light without getting sunburned.
  • Flowering and Fruiting Phase: Certain plants, especially those that bear fruits or flowers, might have specific light requirements during their flowering phase. Some plants might need intense light to produce flowers or fruits, while others might need a bit of shading to prevent flower or fruit sunburn. Depending on the plant type, shade cloth percentage might range from 30% to 60%.

Best Shade Cloth Percentages For Changing Seasons

As we transition through the year, the angle and intensity of sunlight change. This seasonal shift can significantly impact the light requirements in a greenhouse.

  • Spring: During early spring, the sunlight is usually mild. Plants preparing to enter their vegetative phase can benefit from direct sunlight. Using a lower percentage shade cloth, or even none at all, can be ideal during this period.
  • Summer: The sun’s rays are most intense during summer, posing a risk of overheating or sunburn for plants. This is when a higher percentage shade net becomes crucial, particularly in regions experiencing sweltering summers. Shade cloth percentages of 40% to 70% might be needed depending on the plant type and local climate conditions.
  • Autumn: As fall approaches, the sunlight starts becoming less intense. Depending on the plants you’re cultivating and their growth phase, you might need to switch back to a lower percentage shade mesh, perhaps in the 30% to 50% range.
  • Winter: During winter, especially in regions where sunlight becomes scarce, it’s essential to maximize the amount of sunlight your plants receive. In such cases, using minimal or no shade cloth can be beneficial. However, in regions with winter sun, a mild shade netting might still be required to prevent plant stress.

Case Studies: Successful Greenhouses Using Specific Shade Cloth Percentages

To highlight the significance of choosing the right shade cloth percentage, let’s look at some successful greenhouses that adjusted their shading perfectly.

1. Cactus Greenhouse

Cactus Greenhouse

This greenhouse specializes in cultivating rare desert cacti. In regions with strong sunlight, one might assume that shading is unnecessary. However, to replicate the dappled light some cacti receive from sparse desert vegetation, the greenhouse uses a 20% shade cloth. This approach has led to a notable increase in cactus growth rates and reduced sunburn incidences.

2. Leafy Greens Greenhouse

Vegetable Greenhouse

A farm aimed to grow a variety of leafy greens year-round. They used a 60% shade cloth in the summer to prevent bolting and protect the plants from the intense sun. During winter, they switched to a 30% shade netting, balancing the need for light with occasional protection on brighter days. Their harvest cycles were consistent, and the leaf quality was superior.

3. Orchid Greenhouse

Orchid Greenhouse

Orchids, being tropical plants, can be quite finicky about their light conditions. A greenhouse specializing in rare orchids found success with a 70% shade cloth. This setup mimicked the understory of tropical forests, leading to vibrant blooms and healthy orchid plants.

4. Tomato Greenhouse

Tomato Greenhouse

Tomatoes love sunlight, but too much can be detrimental. A greenhouse aimed for the best tomatoes both in size and taste. They opted for a 40% shade cloth during the plant’s fruiting stage. This decision resulted in tomatoes with vibrant colors, enhanced taste, and reduced occurrences of sunscald.

5. Versatile Herb Greenhouse

Herb Greenhouse

A greenhouse focused on herb cultivation utilized a two-pronged approach. They had a 50% shade cloth for the intensely hot summer months and switched to a 30% cloth for the rest of the year. Their herbs, like basil and rosemary, flourished, with the plants producing aromatic and flavorful leaves.

These case studies highlight the importance of understanding both the environmental conditions and the specific needs of the plants you’re growing. By choosing the right shade netting percentage, greenhouses can optimize plant health, growth rates, and overall yield.


Choosing the correct percentage of shade cloth for your greenhouse is not just about maintaining a comfortable environment; it is crucial for ensuring optimal photosynthesis, plant yield, and overall plant health. We’ve seen the importance of understanding the unique needs of specific plants. These needs can vary based on their growth stages and the changing seasons. The case studies demonstrate that no one-size-fits-all answer exists; instead, an individualized approach often yields the best results.

Remember, achieving a harmonious balance between light and shade is the key to thriving plant life and a successful greenhouse. It’s always worthwhile to invest the time and research into finding the right shade cloth percentage for your specific needs. And if you’re in search of quality shade netting solutions, don’t hesitate to contact QiBang Netting. Their expertise and extensive range of products can help ensure you provide the best environment for your plants to flourish.