Greenhouse Shade Cloth 101: The Secrets to Rapid Plant Growth & Protection

Is the harsh sunlight wreaking havoc on your valuable greenhouse plants? A greenhouse shade cloth can help!

You may not know this, but most plants only need 1.5-2% of the transmitted sunlight for photosynthesis. Our comprehensive guide to shade cloth will help you understand how it can protect your plants and optimize their growth by controlling sunlight exposure in your greenhouse.

Ready to unveil a secret garden weapon? Let’s do this! 🌱

Benefits of Using Greenhouse Shade Cloth

Using greenhouse shade cloth provides several benefits. It reduces the temperature inside the greenhouse, protecting plants from harmful UV rays and reducing evaporation.

Reduces temperature

Heat can be a real enemy of plants, particularly in summer months when temperatures can soar. With the right shade cloth, greenhouses can fend off excessive heat which could otherwise cause plant stress or even death.

By blocking out a portion of sunlight, the temperature drops significantly inside the greenhouse. This cooling effect creates an environment conducive for plant growth without compromising their photosynthesis process.

Therefore, using shade cloth is an effective way to regulate high temperatures and ensure healthy growing conditions for your plants throughout scorching seasons.

Protects plants from UV rays

Exposure to excessive sunlight can harm plants in your greenhouse, but shade cloth can act as a shield. The harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are kept away by this versatile fabric.

It reflects or partially blocks out these UV rays, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for tomatoes, orchids, herbs, and other tropical houseplants.

The well-being of your plants is significantly affected by the amount of UV radiation they absorb. Too much sunlight causes the pigment in plant leaves to darken resulting in a condition known as sunscald.

A carefully selected horticultural shade cloth can provide optimal light diffusion for photosynthesis while offering effective UV protection. Thus, having a shade cloth installed over your garden beds or greenhouses helps preserve the vitality and productivity of your growing space.

Reduces evaporation

Harnessing the power of a greenhouse shade cloth, gardeners can significantly reduce evaporation. This is because the shades manage sunlight exposure, leading to cooler temperatures inside the greenhouse and less water lost from both soil and plant surfaces.

By doing so, plants retain more moisture, which directly impacts their growth rate and overall health. Moreover, this quality makes shade cloths essential for locations with hot climates or during peak summer seasons.

In such conditions, they help conserve water while ensuring that your tropical houseplants or herbs don’t dry out quickly under intense heat. Less evaporation also means a reduced need for frequent watering thus saving resources over time.

Types of Shade Cloth Materials

There are various types of shade cloth materials available for greenhouse use, including HDPE, mesh tarp, taped edge, and brass grommets.


HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, is a popular shade cloth material used in greenhouses. It provides excellent durability and UV protection for plants. The tight weave of the HDPE fabric blocks a significant amount of sunlight while still allowing air circulation.

This makes it an ideal choice for reducing greenhouse temperatures and protecting plants from harmful UV rays. With its long-lasting construction, HDPE shade cloth is a reliable option for gardeners looking to maintain optimal growing conditions in their greenhouse.

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Mesh Tarp

Mesh tarp is one of the types of shade cloth materials that can be used in greenhouses. It is made from a durable and lightweight fabric, which allows for good airflow and light diffusion.

The mesh design also helps to reduce heat build-up by allowing hot air to escape, making it an excellent option for greenhouse temperature control. Mesh tarps are typically easy to install and maintain, and they come with brass grommets that provide convenient attachment points.

With its ability to provide shade while still allowing some sunlight to penetrate, mesh tarp can create optimal growing conditions for plants in the greenhouse.

Taped Edge

The taped edge is a type of shade cloth construction that provides additional durability and stability. It features reinforced edges with a strong tape sewn along the perimeter, preventing fraying or tearing.

This design ensures that the shade cloth remains intact even in harsh weather conditions, making it ideal for long-term use. The taped edge also facilitates easy installation, as it can be securely fastened to the greenhouse frame or support structure.

With its enhanced strength and reliability, the taped edge shade cloth offers an excellent solution for maintaining optimal growing conditions in your greenhouse.

The Most Popular Greenhouse Shade Cloth

Here are some of the top picks to buy for growers that want to use a greenhouse shade cloth to shelter their plants and prevent evaporation.

Best Heavy Duty HDPE TarpFotmishu Shade Cloth
Best Medium Duty HDPE TarpKesfitt Shade Cloth
Best Mesh TarpWindscreen Supply Co
Best Ultra-Fine Mesh CoverSunKrop Shade Cloth

Recommendation 1: Fotmishu Shade Cloth (Best Heavy Duty HDPE Tarp)

greenhouse shade cloth

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– 75 – 80% Shade Coverage

– Size of 10ft x 20ft

– Made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

– 4.59 pounds in weight

This is a heavy duty tarp with 75-80% shade coverage. It is designed to restrict a lot of sun and shade the areas intensely. This is a tarp that is suited for hot locations and plants that want full shade when growing. These are generally sensitive flowers like Astilbes, Bergenia’s and Bluebells.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Recommendation 2: Kesfitt Shade Cloth (Best Medium Duty HDPE Tarp)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– 70% Shade Coverage

– Size of 20ft x 30ft

– Made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

greenhouse shade cloth

This next Greenhouse shade cloth is more lightweight and provides a 70% coverage. This is still very well suited to hot climates and these tarps are often used for garden shade. This tarp is again meant for sensitive flowers that love shade.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Recommendation 3: Windscreen Supply Co (Best Mesh Tarp)

greenhouse shade cloth

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– 60% – 70% Shade Coverage

– Size of 20ft x 20ft

– Made of fine HDPE Mesh

If you’re looking to shade your plants then this is the most reliable tarp for most people. It will give you a 60-70% coverage which will block out the intensive sun while still allowing water to grace your plants. Again – you will need to assess what plants you are planning to grow because this is more suited to less fussy plants that don’t need a ton of direct son.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Recommendation 4: SunKrop Shade Cloth (Best Ultra-Fine Mesh Cover)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Specs & Features:
– 30% – 40% Shade Coverage

– Size of 8ft x 24ft

– Made of non-woven Polypropylene fabric

greenhouse shade cloth

Now we get to the more lightweight options. This shade cloth is very well suited for a greenhouse in a more moderate climate where major sunburn isn’t a huge risk factor. This shade cloth is perfect for vegetables and flowers like roses that like direct sunlight.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Shade Cloth

When choosing a shade cloth, consider factors such as the sunblock percentage, durability, size, and grommet placement.

Sunblock percentage

The sunblock percentage is an important factor to consider when choosing shade cloth for your greenhouse. This percentage refers to the amount of sunlight that is blocked by the fabric.

Different plants have varying sunlight requirements, so it’s crucial to choose a shade cloth with the right sunblock percentage for your specific plants. For example, tomatoes may require more sunlight than tropical houseplants or orchids.

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By selecting a shade cloth with the appropriate sunblock percentage, you can ensure that your plants receive just the right amount of sunlight they need for optimal growth and photosynthesis.

Unfortunately I can’t list every single plant out in here because that would take far too long, but I can give you some general guidelines.

General Guidelines: What Percentage Do I Need?

Shade Cloth %Details:
30% Shade ClothA 30% shade rate is optimal for plants like geraniums and chrysanthemums.
40% Shade ClothThis is great for growing vegetables and it will also stop lilies and bedding plants from burning.
50% Shade Cloth50% is great for hotter climates (especially the white shade) and it is good for things like tomatoes, watermelons, chard and Limba beans in hot weather.
60% Shade Cloth60% is great for plants like orchids.
65% Shade ClothThis is the most popular choice for backyard shade
70% Shade ClothThis is also extremely popular for backyard shade
80% Shade ClothVery good for shading your plants in extremely hot climates
90% Shade ClothThis is generally best for shading animals.


Shade cloth for greenhouses needs to be durable to withstand the elements and frequent use. Look for shade cloths made from high-quality materials that are resistant to tearing, UV damage, and fraying.

A well-constructed shade cloth will have reinforced edges and sturdy grommets for easy installation and long-lasting performance. Consider the durability of the fabric when selecting a shade cloth to ensure it will provide reliable protection for your plants over an extended period of time.


Size is an important factor to consider when choosing a shade cloth for your greenhouse. The size of the shade cloth should match the dimensions of your greenhouse structure to ensure proper coverage and protection for your plants.

A shade cloth that is too small may leave some areas exposed to direct sunlight, while a shade cloth that is too large may be difficult to install and secure properly. It’s essential to measure your greenhouse accurately before purchasing a shade cloth so that you can choose the right size that fits snugly and provides optimal shading for your plants.

I’m someone that’s more inclined to go bigger rather than smaller because it gives you more opportunities to fit different spaces.

Remember, proper sizing ensures maximum effectiveness in controlling temperature and protecting your plants from harmful UV rays.

Grommet placement

Grommet placement is an important factor to consider when choosing a shade cloth for your greenhouse. Grommets are the small metal rings or eyelets that are attached to the edges of the shade cloth, and they play a crucial role in securing and installing the cloth effectively.

The placement of these grommets should be strategically positioned so that the shade cloth can be securely fastened to your greenhouse structure. This ensures proper tension and support, preventing any sagging or flapping of the fabric.

Additionally, well-placed grommets allow for easy installation and removal of the shade cloth whenever necessary, such as during seasonal changes or maintenance tasks. So, make sure to pay attention to grommet placement when selecting your shade cloth for optimal performance and convenience.

Tips for Installing and Maintaining Shade Cloth

Proper tension and support ensure optimal shade coverage. Regular cleaning and maintenance keep the cloth in top condition. Storage during off-season prolongs its lifespan. Read on to learn more!

Proper tension and support

Proper tension and support are crucial when installing shade cloth in a greenhouse. The shade cloth should be securely fastened to prevent sagging or flapping, which can lead to damage and reduced effectiveness.

greenhouse shade cloth

It is important to ensure that the cloth is stretched across the greenhouse structure, using appropriate hooks or clips for attachment. This helps maintain the desired level of shading and promotes proper airflow within the greenhouse.

As a general rule of thumb you don’t want it stretching ultra-tight. Just find a happy medium with a little bit of sag.

Regularly checking and adjusting the tension of the shade cloth will ensure its longevity and optimal performance in protecting plants from excessive sunlight.

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Regular cleaning and maintenance

To keep your shade cloth in good condition and ensure its effectiveness, regular cleaning and maintenance are essential. Cleaning the shade cloth can help remove dust, dirt, and debris that may accumulate over time.

This can be done by gently spraying it with water or using a mild soap solution for tougher stains. It is important to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers that could damage the fabric.

Additionally, inspecting the shade cloth for any signs of wear or tear is crucial. If there are any holes or frayed edges, it’s best to repair or replace the affected areas promptly to maintain the integrity of the shade cloth.

Storage during off-season

When the off-season arrives, proper storage of your greenhouse shade cloth is essential to ensure its longevity and effectiveness. Start by cleaning the shade cloth thoroughly, removing any debris or dirt that may have accumulated during its use.

Let it dry completely before folding or rolling it up for storage. Store the shade cloth in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to avoid any potential damage caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays.

Consider using a storage bag or container specifically designed for shade cloths to protect them from dust and pests. By storing your shade cloth properly during the off-season, you can extend its lifespan and continue reaping its benefits year after year.

Innovative Features of Modern Shade Cloth

Modern shade cloth now includes, UV-resistant materials and smartphone monitoring for convenient maintenance and protection.

UV-resistant materials

greenhouse shade cloth

UV-resistant materials are an important factor to consider when choosing shade cloth for your greenhouse. These materials are specially designed to block harmful UV rays from reaching your plants, providing them with the protection they need.

UV rays can cause damage to plant cells and inhibit their growth, so having a shade cloth made from UV-resistant materials ensures that your plants stay healthy and thrive in the greenhouse environment.

With UV-resistant shade cloth, you can have peace of mind knowing that your plants are shielded from the harmful effects of the sun while still receiving the optimal amount of light for photosynthesis.

Smartphone monitoring

Smartphone monitoring is one of the innovative features of modern shade cloth. With this technology, users can conveniently monitor and control their shade cloth settings from their smartphones.

This allows for easy adjustment of shade levels, temperature control, and overall management of the greenhouse environment. By providing real-time updates and alerts, smartphone monitoring ensures that plants are receiving the ideal amount of sunlight and protection throughout the day.

With this convenient tool, greenhouse owners can stay connected to their plants even when they are away from the greenhouse.


In conclusion, understanding the benefits and types of greenhouse shade cloth is essential for creating optimal growing conditions for plants. By reducing temperature, protecting from UV rays, and minimizing evaporation, shade cloth plays a crucial role in maintaining plant health.

Factors such as sunblock percentage and durability should be considered when choosing the right shade cloth. Proper installation and maintenance techniques ensure long-lasting use.

With innovative features like smartphone monitoring, modern shade cloths offer even more convenience. So, whether you’re growing tomatoes or tropical houseplants, using the right shade cloth can make all the difference in your greenhouse gardening journey. 🍆🌷

Here Are Our Top Greenhouse Guides:


What is the purpose of a greenhouse shade cloth?

A greenhouse shade cloth is used to protect plants from excessive sunlight and heat, providing shade and reducing the risk of sunburn or wilting.

How do I choose the right shade cloth for my greenhouse?

When selecting a shade cloth for your greenhouse, consider factors such as the desired level of shading (percentage), UV protection, durability, and breathability to ensure optimal growing conditions for your plants.

How often should I water my plants when using a shade cloth in my greenhouse?

The watering frequency will depend on various factors such as plant type, weather conditions, and moisture retention capabilities of your chosen shade cloth. Monitor soil moisture levels regularly and adjust watering accordingly.

Can a greenhouse shade cloth be used year-round?

Yes, a greenhouse shade cloth can be used year-round to modulate temperature and light levels inside the structure. It can also provide protection against extreme weather conditions like hail or heavy rain.

Is installing a greenhouse shade cloth difficult?

Installing a greenhouse shade cloth is relatively simple and can typically be done by attaching it securely to the frame using clips or ropes. However, it’s important to follow manufacturer instructions or seek professional assistance if necessary to ensure proper installation for optimum performance.

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Jason Watson

My initial goal was to protect my loved ones from harmful pesticides & help them enjoy nature more. Now, I want to tell as many people as I can about what I've learned... I hope that I can inspire you to help cool our planet with your own little slice of paradise 🌱. Let's do this together!

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