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How to Choose Right Shade Net that Makes a Difference to Plants?

May. 16, 2022

Shade Net

It is an enjoyable experience to see how quickly your cut flowers/plants grow in Spring. The temperature is comfortable and the environment is friendly to your plants.  As summer approaches and the temperature outside begins to rise, you start to water your plants more. But have you thought of putting “sunscreen” on your plants!!  ---- Provide a shade net to cover your plants as a shelter, this will save you water and energy as well as make your plants grow faster and be healthier.

What you need to do is know more about this “sunscreen” and choose the right one to protect your plants from sunburn and other fatal factors under the fierce sun in summer.

So what is a shade net?

shade net was developed over 30 years ago to provide protection for plants from the harsh Australian climate. Shade cloth is used in many different applications in the domestic, horticulture, commercial, industrial, sport, leisure, and agriculture industries.

In summer, a shade net could be used to cover your shade house skeleton or greenhouse glazing, to cool it down for your plants. Hobbyists, growers, nurseries, gardeners, and farmers should protect their young plants from direct sunlight. Ideal for plants when they are establishing and then gradually hardening off, a shade net is also used to shield pets, livestock, and people from sun and wind.

What is shade net made of?

shade net is usually made of loosely woven polyester or even aluminum and can be found in varying densities or degrees of shade from approximately 5% to 95%.  

All shade net is water permeable so that rainwater, sprinklers, and irrigation systems can keep your plants hydrated.

What type of shade nets are there in the market?

There are two types of the most common shade net: knitted and woven.

knitted Shade Net

Woven Shade Net

Knitted shade net

Woven shade net

Made of lightweight polyethylene

Made of 100% polypropylene

Suitable for a variety of applications, including:

· Shade houses

· Greenhouses

· Hot houses

Resists tears, fraying and unraveling

Suitable for a variety of applications, including:

· Pet Kennels

· Shading for patios

· Windscreens

· Privacy screens

Solar protection for plants

Open lockstitch design resists wind damage and reduces heat build-up and wind speed inside structures 

Allows more heat build-up than knitted shade net

Easy to install 

Heavier (Less easy to install)

UV resistant

UV Stabilized to withstand the most extreme sun exposure

Edge taping is not needed

Edges must be taped to resist fraying and will unravel if cut

Resists most horticultural chemicals and detergents

Longer life expectancy than woven shade net

Allow for 2-3% stretch or shrinkage

Minimal stretch or shrinkage, less than knitted

As we can see from above, to protect your plants from extremely hot weather and make them grow healthily in hot summer, a knitted shade net is a better choice due to its life expectancy, functionalities, and easy installation.


Shade net is woven or knitted in different densities. We call the densities of shade net “Percentages”. The difference in percentage lets different amounts of sunlight penetrate, which means that the percentage of shade net you choose, blocks out that percentage of the sun. Therefore, what you grow will help determine the percentage of shade net you need.

As we all know, sunlight is so crucial to a plants’ growth, so choose the right density and as low a density as you can get away with.  

Usually, a shade percentage of 30-50% is ideal for vegetables, while 80-90% is ideal for sheltering people.  Most plants will do best with a maximum of 40% - 60% shade. However, when growing some shade-loving plants such as orchids and some ferns, 75% or higher may be needed to get correct light levels.

Examples of shade net percentage suitable to your plants

50%  shade net in Green Colour

75-80% shade net in Green Colour

Suitable for:

• nursery stock
• cabbage
• peppers
• lettuce
• some Orchid varieties
• pot plants
• geraniums
• caladiums
• irises

Suitable for:

• orchids
• some ferns
• large olive trees
• Protection barriers on buildings
• Use as silt fencing
• Use as awnings
• Use as livestock shading
• Use as domestic shading

Plants that require partial shade

Plants that enjoy the dense shade

One of the most important aspects of choosing the right density of knitted shade cloth is that it should be applicable to the area where we live. In Australia, the temperature in the north is hotter than in the south in summer. Therefore, there are more people choosing higher percentage shade net in the northern Australia regions such as North Queensland and the Northern Territory.

What to look for in a shade cloth?

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

In Summary

If you cover your shade house with 50% or 75% shade net, all the way to the ground, a huge amount of heat load is dissipated by the cloth so it never gets into your shade house (try to mist or fog at regular intervals during extremely hot weather). Finally, know you will have a high return on your shade net investment by reducing energy costs and water costs. Talk about going green, talk about lowering your carbon footprint, shade net does it!

You put suncream on your body; why not use sunscreen for your plants?

------ “Life is a shade better under a tree or shade net.”

(PS Usually, shade net is an important component of Shade house, to know more about shade net, head over to here)

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