What Percentage Shade Cloth Should I Use


When it comes to protecting your plants, vegetables, or flowers from the scorching sun, shade cloth is an essential tool in any gardener’s arsenal. But not all shade cloths are created equal, and the question often arises: “What percentage shade cloth should I use?” This seemingly simple question is crucial for the health of your plants and the success of your garden. A shade cloth’s percentage signifies the amount of light it blocks out, which can range from a light screen to a dense barrier against the sun.

Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a budding gardener, understanding how to select the right shade cloth percentage is key to ensuring your plants get the protection they need without missing out on the valuable sunlight they require for growth. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery of shade cloth percentages and guide you to make an informed decision that will keep your garden thriving in all weather conditions.

| Key Takeaways:

  • Selecting the correct shade cloth percentage is crucial for plant health and outdoor comfort.
  • Use 20-30% for sun-loving vegetables and herbs to prevent sunscald while ensuring enough light.
  • 40-50% is ideal for leafy greens and certain flowers, offering a balance of protection and sunlight.
  • For orchids, ferns, and seedlings that prefer filtered light, 60-70% provides adequate shade.
  • 80-90% suits extremely sensitive plants and outdoor areas for humans, offering maximum protection from intense sunlight.

Understanding Shade Cloth Percentage

A shade cloth is a fabric used to protect plants from excessive sunlight and heat. The percentage associated with a shade cloth indicates how much light it blocks. For example, a 30% shade cloth blocks 30% of the sunlight, while a 70% shade cloth blocks 70%, creating a much cooler environment.

Think of the percentage as a tool to control the intensity of the sun reaching your plants. The higher the number, the more protection from the bright sun. This doesn’t mean you always opt for the highest number, as plants need a certain amount of sunlight to thrive.

Selecting the right percentage depends on the sensitivity and needs of your plants. Delicate plants often require a higher shade percentage. Conversely, plants adapted to full sun might only need a lighter shade cloth.

It’s essential to balance the light needs of your plants with protection from harsh sunlight. A too high shade percentage can lead to weak or stunted growth, while too low may not provide enough protection, leading to plant stress or even sunburn.

Different Shade Cloth Percentages for Your Use

shade cloths serve as a critical tool for protecting sensitive plants, enhancing growth conditions, and creating comfortable living spaces. They come in a variety of densities, each tailored to specific needs ranging from light sun filtering to heavy shading. Understanding the nuances of each shade cloth density is key to ensuring the health of your plants, the success of your gardening endeavors, and the comfort of outdoor living areas.

20-30% Shade Cloth

Shade cloths in this percentage range are ideal for plants that flourish in ample sunlight but need some protection during the peak heat of the day or in particularly intense solar climates. Many vegetables are suited to this level of shade, as they typically require substantial sunlight for optimal yields. Nonetheless, excessive direct exposure can lead to problems such as sunscald on fruits, leaf discoloration, or inhibited growth. This lighter shade provides a sufficient buffer against these risks while still permitting an abundance of sunlight for the plants.

Examples of plants that benefit from 20-30% shade cloth include:

  • Vegetables: Varieties such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers can avoid sunscald.
  • Herbs: Mediterranean herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage appreciate full sun but may need shielding during the height of summer.
  • Fruit Trees: Protecting young fruit trees as they establish can prevent sun damage while ensuring they receive adequate light for development.

40-50% Shade Cloth

This intermediate shade range offers a balance between sun protection and light penetration. It’s commonly used in areas with intense sunlight for vegetable gardens and certain flowering plants that may experience stress from full sun exposure during summer’s peak. The cloth creates a cooler microclimate that can reduce heat stress and lessen water loss from evaporation.

Plants that thrive under 40-50% shade cloth include:

  • Leafy Greens: Vegetables like lettuce and spinach, which favor cooler conditions, are less likely to bolt.
  • Flowering Plants: Varieties such as certain roses and azaleas that could be damaged by petal blight or scorch in harsh sunlight.
  • Berry Bushes: Bushes like blueberries or raspberries get protection from birds and intense rays while still receiving the light needed for fruiting.

60-70% Shade Cloth

A 60-70% shade cloth is better suited for plants that prefer indirect or filtered light. This includes some orchids, ferns, and leafy greens that might suffer in direct, strong sunlight. Beyond plant protection, this shade range is also beneficial for creating comfortable semi-shaded areas for outdoor living spaces, protecting both people and plants.

Plants commonly protected with 60-70% shade cloth include:

  • Orchids: Varieties that favor dappled sunlight, reflecting their natural understory habitat.
  • Ferns: Shade-affectionate ferns that are prone to burning under direct sunlight.
  • Nursery Seedlings: Young plants and seedlings in nurseries that require careful light control for robust growth.

80-90% Shade Cloth

This high-protection category is essential for extremely sensitive plants. It is also useful in safeguarding certain cool-season plants during hot months, providing light without the heat stress that could lead to bolting or wilting. Additionally, such shade cloths are employed in areas designed for human comfort, like patios and playgrounds, to mitigate the midday sun’s harshness, especially in hot climates.

Examples of applications for 80-90% shade cloth include:

  • Sensitive Plants: Species such as certain types of ferns, hostas, or primroses that need substantial sunlight protection.
  • Propagation Areas: Zones for rooting cuttings that necessitate a subdued lighting environment.
  • Animal Shelters: Create cooler areas for livestock or pets during the heat of summer.
  • Human Recreation: Spaces like playgrounds and outdoor seating where strong sunlight can be uncomfortable or detrimental to people’s health.

In essence, the judicious application of shade cloths from light to dense weaves is vital in the realm of gardening and outdoor comfort.Choosing the right shade percentage is a simple yet profound step toward nurturing gardens and crafting enjoyable outdoor experiences, ensuring every living thing can thrive even under the strength of the full sun.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Shade Cloth Percentage

When choosing the right shade cloth percentage for your plants, several key factors need to be taken into account to ensure that you provide the optimal growing conditions. Here’s what to consider:

1. Local Climate: The intensity of the sun in your area is a primary factor. In hot climates with intense sunlight, a higher percentage of shade may be necessary to protect plants from stress and scorching, whereas in cooler, less intense climates, a lower percentage can be sufficient.

2. Plant Species and Varieties: Different plants have varying needs for sunlight. Research your specific plant varieties to understand how much sun they can tolerate and thrive in. Vegetables typically need more sun than shade-loving flowers or ferns.

3. Seasonality: The sun’s intensity changes with the seasons. You might need a heavier shade in the summer months and lighter or no shade during spring or fall. Consider using adjustable systems or varying your cloth with the seasons.

4. Plant Developmental Stages: Young seedlings or recently transplanted plants may need more shade to protect them as they establish. Mature plants can generally tolerate more direct sunlight.

5. Watering and Humidity Levels: Shade cloth can reduce water evaporation from the soil and plant leaves, which can be beneficial in dry conditions but could contribute to humidity-related problems like mold in more humid environments.

6. Type of Garden or Greenhouse: If you’re covering a greenhouse, your needs will differ from open-air gardens. Greenhouses naturally retain more heat, which may require a higher shade percentage.

By considering these factors, you can choose a shade cloth percentage that best suits your plants’ needs, balancing protection with their need for sunlight, and ultimately fostering a healthier and more productive garden.


In conclusion, selecting the right percentage of shade cloth is crucial for the health and productivity of your plants. Each plant species has its unique requirements for light and protection from the intensity of direct sunlight.

When determining the appropriate shade cloth percentage for your garden or greenhouse, consider factors like the local climate, the intensity of sunlight, and the sensitivity of your plants to light. Remember, the goal is to protect your plants from harsh conditions while providing them with the necessary light to flourish.

If you’re in need of a shade cloth to safeguard your plants and ensure their best performance, reach out to QiBang Netting for solutions tailored to your gardening needs. Their expertise can guide you to the ideal shade percentage for your green space, ensuring your horticultural success.