Growers often use shade cloth in year-round greenhouses to protect plants from the intense summer sun. You can also use it outdoors to protect garden flowers, plants and vegetables. Installation usually involves draping it over hoops of wire or PVC piping, which you put in by pushing one end of the support on either side of the row or garden bed to be shaded. Shade cloth is available in various degrees of shading, which blocks out from 30 to 90 percent of sunlight, while allowing heat to escape through its loosely woven fabric.
Most varieties of plants and flowers are resilient and take to transplanting without missing a beat. In the heat of summer, however, many plants and flowers benefit from spending a few days beneath a plant shade after transplanting. Plants that recover more slowly from transplanting require a higher degree of shade than those that recover quickly and should be protected with the shade cloth that provides the highest degree of shading.
Protects Cuttings under Propagation
Woody plants, shrubs and perennials are best propagated on stem cuttings taken in late spring or early summer, when the sun is highest in the sky. A shade cloth over the bed where the cuttings are rooting will keep them cool and relatively stress-free as they expend their energy to grow roots. When they finally form roots and begin active growth, you can remove the shade cloth.
Extends Life of Flowers
To extend the life of blossoms in the cutting garden, protect them from direct sunlight with a shade cloth. They will take longer to go from bud formation to full bloom, thus extending their season. This is particularly helpful for perennials with a short blooming season but that also make excellent cut flowers, such as peonies and poppies.
Extends Season for Cool-Weather Crops
Vegetables that prefer the cool weather of spring, such as spinach and salad greens, send up a seed stalk and turn bitter tasting when the heat of summer arrives. Delay this by shading them in late spring and early summer with a shade cloth. They will still eventually bolt and turn bitter, but not as soon as they would if exposed to the intense summer sun.