Understand shade cloth & how its colour impacts plants’ growth

Posted by Aaron Chen on


Shade cloth is used to protect plants from too much heat from the sun. It is also used to improve the diffusion of light and provide ventilation for the plants.

One of the important aspects to consider when selecting a shade cloth is the colour. Shade cloth colour influences the growth of various plants.

Choosing the right colour of shade cloth can make a big difference to a specific plant. Here is a blog post to help you understand more about shade cloth and how its colour impacts different plants.

Things You Need To Know About Shade Cloth

Using shade cloth can be an effective solution to reduce sunburn for plants. It also decreases the amount of radiation that reaches the plants. This is because shade cloth can reflect the air and incoming solar radiation.

Using shade cloth can also alter the appearance of plants. Plants that are grown under the shade are found to have larger leaves, taller and more nodes, provided that they are shade loving plants.

There are many factors that you need to consider when choosing the right shade cloth for your shade house.

What to look for in a shade cloth?

  • Fabric material

A shade cloth can be either knitted or woven. The knitted shade cloth is made of polyethylene blend which deflects heat and light. It is lightweight but can withstand regular wear and tear.

While the woven shade cloth is made of 100% polypropylene which is more suitable to use during winter. It is also heavier than knitted cloths which enables more heat build-up.

  • Density Percentage

Aside from the shade cloth fabric material, the density percentage of the shade cloth is an important aspect to be considered. Choose the appropriate density percentage will depend on what plants you will be growing. Here are the density percentage that some plants require:

• 30% - this shade cloth is recommended for heat tolerant plants such as pepper, squash and tomato. It can also be used for flowering plants such as snapdragons, geraniums and chrysanthemums.

• 40%-50% - this is ideal for flowering plants such as lilies and caladiums, orchids, azaleas, begonias, camellias

• 60% - this percentage is ideal for sensitive plants like lettuce and spinach

• 70%-90% - generally used for ornamental plants such as ferns, palms, anthurium, dracaena, philodendron

*Please note: The plant examples show in the percentages above haven't taken the colour of the shade cloth into consideration, please read on below.

  • Colour

One of the most common colours for shade cloth is black and green. There are also other colours available such as white, red, yellow and blue.

There is also a special type of coloured shade cloth. It is called aluminet shade cloth. This is used as an alternative for black shade cloths. It is a reflective metalized high-density polyethylene (HDPE) knitted screen. It is specifically used to protect the plants against frost radiation damages and prevent oxidation.

Effects of coloured shade cloth to the plants

Choosing the shade cloth colour is not just a matter of personal preference. Experts believe that picking a lighter shade cloth colour can resolve issues for ventilation because it will reflect more heat from the sun.

White shade cloths reduce the quantity of light but not the quality of light spectrum. Thus, the growth of the plant is more rapid than using green and black shade cloth. White shade cloths are often used for flowering plants.

Dark colour shade cloth is known to absorb the sun’s heat while the light colours reflect the sun’s heat. Usually, green and black shade cloths behave like filters and deprive the plants in receiving much sunlight.

Aluminised shade cloth may also offer additional cooling effect for the plants. Colours such as red can benefit specific plants by filtering different wavelengths of light.

Using coloured shade cloth on selected plants

Based on studies, using shade cloth with different colour has different effects on different plants. Below are some examples.

  • Blueberries

Black, grey, red and white shade cloths (with a percentage density of 35 and 50 for each colour) were used to highbush blueberry. Result shows that black shade cloth has a reduced PAR (photosynthetic active radiation), about 47% and 54% which affects the vegetation growth of blueberries. Specifically, internode, leaf and shoot length and leaf width were increased.

As for the other colours such as red, grey and white, the PAR was reduced by 29% to 41%. This shows that it has no effect on its internode and shoot lengths. However, it has minor effects on the vegetative parameter.

  • Philodendron

Under the black, blue, grey and red shade cloths, its leaf mass was unaffected. Moreover, using red shade cloth results to larger number of leaves while using blue shade cloth results to smaller number of leaves.

  • Peach

For peach, they use colours blue, grey, pearl, red, yellow with 30% density and white shade cloth with 12% density. Result shows that regardless of the shade cloth colour, there was an increased vegetative growth on peach trees.

  • Orchid

According to research, there is a consistent pattern of enhanced foliage biomass production under blue shade cloth compared to black and red shade cloths. For green colour shade cloth which is most commonly used, it has more heat generation than white, less than black.

  • Cast iron plant

The number of leaves of cast iron plant is bigger under black shade cloth compared to blue, red and grey. However, the leaf variegation and the overall percentage of green leaves produced are the same under all coloured nets. Moreover, there is no major difference in the leaf vase life of the cast iron plant.

  • Lettuce

Three colours of shade cloth (black, red and green) with a density percentage of 50 were used in an experiment. As a result, the length and width of the lettuce were significantly bigger under the red shading compared to green shading. It has no significant difference in the control treatment under black shade cloth.

Moreover, it shows that the lettuce has the largest stem diameter under the red shading compared to  shade cloth with different colour. It means that using red shade cloth is suitable for lettuce than other coloured shade cloths.


Using shade cloth can make a huge difference to your plants. Thus, it is important to consider different factors such as fabric material, density percentage and different colour.

Furthermore, choosing shade cloth with the right colour is not just a matter of preference. You must select a shade cloth colour that is suitable for your plants as your choice can influence growth of the plants.

If you are looking for some high-quality shade cloth for your plants's health and maximum growth, then contact a reputable provider that offers different kinds of shade cloths. If you don't how to build a shade structure or a shade house, you can even purchase a shade house with shade cloth to make things easier.

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Topics: Shade house, Shade cloth

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