How Much Sun Do Fruit Trees Need?

How Much Sun Do Fruit Trees Need?

Fruit tree in sun header

There is something very satisfying about going out into your own yard and picking a fresh, ripe piece of fruit right off of the tree, isn't there? Here at Nature Hills we hear stories all the time from our friends in Florida and California about the pleasure they get from having fresh fruit from their clementines, kumquats, and lemons

Our Georgia friends write in about their peaches and nectarines. And don't get us started on the apple lovers out there!

Fruit trees are a wonderful indulgence and for the most part easy to grow. They can tolerate less than perfect soils. Once they are established, many can weather a short drought or two. Some can even survive a bitter Northern winter without a second thought. 

One thing they all must have, though, is the right amount of sunlight. You might not have a dead tree if they get too much shade, but you certainly won't get the fruit you want. 

Fruit Tree Sun Recommendations

Light is essential when growing plants outdoors or bringing plants indoors for winter protection. For outdoor, select a location with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight, preferably morning sun as it is the leaf-drying and air warming sun. 

When adapting plants to an indoor environment, choose the brightest location possible. In many cases, artificial grow lights will be necessary to provide adequate light for plants grown indoors. This is common with Citrus and each plants individual needs should be researched well.

Here are some guidelines for you if you plan on planting your own little orchard!



Apples and Pears - 8 Hours Per Day

These need 8 hours of sun a day. They are especially appreciative of morning sun to dry the leaves and reduce the chance for diseases.


Figs - 8 hours Per Day figs

Plenty of sun is important for Fig trees, but oddly enough the trunks are susceptible to sunburn! So a coat of protective white paint or reflective tape might be necessary in the hottest climates.


Citrus - 6 hours per day citrus

Oranges, lemons, limes, kumquats, grapefruits and tangerines all need a full day of sun - 6 hours at least. They don't like frost and need a year-round warm climate. Some dwarf varieties do well as indoor potted plants given well-drained soil and plenty of winter light from a window.


Cherry - 8 hours per day cherry

Beautiful flowers, as well as beautiful fruit, are the rewards of giving this tree good drainage (they are susceptible to root rot if they sit in water) and 8 hours of sun a day.


Banana - 6 hours per day banana

These tropical plants need a tropical climate and at least 6 hours of sun a day to give their best fruit. Otherwise, they are just pretty ornamentals. Which isn't bad, but your pet monkey might be a little upset.


Peach and Nectarine - 6 hours per day peaches

Bright sun and good air circulation around the leaves will give you a bumper crop. In really hot climates, a little afternoon shade will keep the leaves from burning.


Plum & Apricot, Aprium, Plumcot & Pluot - 6 hours per day plus plum

These sweet-tart smaller fruits like other stonefruit, need 6 hours of sunlight a day minimum just to set flowers and deliver up bushels of juicy delights. They also need that leaf-drying power of the morning sun to look and grow their best.


Other Fruiting Tree Varieties - 6 plus hours of direct sun a day avacados

Avocados, Olives, Persimmons, Pomegranates, the Guava and other more unusual or Tropical fruits, and nearly all Nut Trees need the same as described above. Give them morning sun and plenty of sun-drenched hours throughout the day too! 


Fruit Shrubs - 6 hours per day strawberries

If you haven’t noticed the pattern here, don’t worry! Even fruiting shrubs do best in full sun! Especially appreciating morning sunlight. Though a few will be grateful for that touch of afternoon shade during the worst of summer's relentless heat. 

That is also where a thick layer of mulch comes in, protecting the root systems from excess heating from the sun, fast moisture evaporation and keeping them insulated throughout the cold winter months.


Fruiting vines - 6 hours give or take grapes

Most vines, even fruiting vines such as Kiwi, Grapes and Passionfruit, need full sun to really do their very best. Plants like melon and tomato, both of which are considered vining, also need as much sun as you can give them for the biggest, juiciest fruit possible! But in nature some vines can be found typically climbing trees and act as an understory plant. So in some cases, they tolerate a bit less sun. 

The unique Goji berry vine and succulent Honeyberry vines also handle a range of sun. Again, for the most flowers and fruit, they prefer full sun - 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, will yield the best harvest possible!

A Few Exceptions

Some partial shade loving fruit - usually understory plants and perennials, can handle less than optimal amounts of sun. You’ll notice less fruit compared to those grown in full sun, but you’ll still enjoy a decent crop. 

Fruiting and edible plants like the Rhubarb, vining Muscadine grapes and Hardy kiwi , understory Pawpaw, Mulberries and Juneberry (Amelanchier) trees, some Blueberries, York and Adams Elderberries, Gooseberry, some Raspberries, Alpine (Wild) Strawberry, Black/Red/White Currants and Huckleberry. 

Aronia/Chokeberry Bushes can handle full sun, part and even shade, depending on how much fruit you want to harvest. The native Pawpaw tree and a few Currant bushes can even handle full shade, but at a significant reduction in fruiting, and that’s why we love them is for their unique custardy treats! There’s even a few Pomegranates that can tolerate less-than-full sun.

each fruit tree sun amount infographic

So How Much Sun is Full Sun?

Full Sun 

Full sun indicates that the plant requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to grow, thrive, and produce optimally. Most fruiting trees and shrubs need this continuous chunk of light shining on their leaves each day just to set flowers and therefore produce fruit. This is a very common sun requirement for most fruits and vegetables.

These crops will perform significantly worse or may even die if they receive less than 6 hours of sun per day during the growing season. When you are talking about fruiting plants, you want more blooms and you want more fruit, stronger branches and healthier plants!

Full To Partial Sun 

Full to partial sun indicates that the plant in question prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial sunlight and some shade. This means maybe it gets 4-5 hours of direct sunlight a day, but then dappled light the rest. It can also mean the plant is receiving very bright, all day light, but it’s not direct light. Most houseplants and indoor fruiting plants need bright indirect sunlight so the leaves won’t burn as they become amplified by the sun's rays through a window or in a greenhouse situation.

The plant won’t be quite as happy and yields may be slightly smaller, but the plant will survive and produce in a spot that receives shade for part of the day.

Partial Shade Or Shade Tolerant

Part sun and part shade can often be interchangeable. But generally, Partial Sun or Shade tolerant implies that the plant can do well in a spot that receives only a few hours of sunlight per day (4 or less), and it may actually prefer it. There are a very small number of fruiting plants that fall into this category, as well as many leafy greens.

The Danger of Too Much Shade

Even with good plant selection, there may come a time when the shade starts taking a toll on your fruit trees. Some signs that plants are getting too much shade include reduced fruit yield, leggy plants, fewer flowers, less colorful leaves and sickly-looking plants.

Excessive shade hinders photosynthesis, leading to diminished fruit yield and quality. If the tree cannot feed itself, it is at a greater risk of insect infestation or becoming weaker and less adaptable to climate and weather changes. 

A dense canopy overhead also inhibits airflow and rainfall from reaching the plants below. Stagnant air leads to fungal disease problems. With no morning sun to dry the leaves, these fungi run rampant. If these symptoms arise, it’s time to let in more light.

Sun infographic

How Much Sun Do You have?

Another very important thing to know is how much sunlight your yard receives. This will be different for every spot in your yard.

Look at the area where you are planning on planting. Is this area shaded all day, does it get morning sun, hot afternoon sun, or all-day sun? Study the amount of sun as you work to design your landscape.

Not only should you know which side of the house you are planting, or if there are any large trees that might reduce the light pouring in. 

It is also very important to know how much sun your plant will need. Hot and dry ‘sun lovers’ won’t enjoy the shade. Conversely, the ‘shade lovers’ will melt away in over-exposed areas with too much sun. 

Look at the Sun Exposure on the Plant Highlights. 

  • We suggest Full Sun for plants that needs lots of sun for best color, best flowering and fruiting and best fall color too!
  • Part Shade and Part Sun are basically the same thing. Give these plants some protection for part of the day for best results. 
  • Plants that prefer shade will be listed simply as Shade for exposure.

To sum it all up, as you may have figured out by now: more sun = more flowers = more fruit! 

more sun more fruit graphic

Want more sunlight? Consider trimming trees and tall shrubs. You’ll be amazed at the difference that can make in your yard - and on your harvest!

So head over to and sun or shade, we’ll find the best fruiting plants for your location! Let us help you down the sunny path to delicious fruiting trees and shrubs for your home!

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