Shade Cloth netting has been studied by horticulturists since 1992. Those early studies focused mainly on the effects on plants that were grown under shade cloths in both the field and in greenhouses.
Woven shade cloth is available in black, white, red, green, violet, decorative brown and Aluminet [a specialty metalized knit fabrication]. Shade cloths are available in different densities of the weave— from 22% to as much as 90% —dependent on the color of the cloth.
Peculiarities of Black Shade Cloth
This is the most commonly seen color of shade cloth around commercial growing centers. It can be used both inside a greenhouse to cover specific plantings or over an entire greenhouse.
Testing shows that higher-density (70% or higher) Black cloths reduces the greatest amount of radiation that hits the surface beneath it. This may or may not be the best option for your particular plants. And it is not recommended for use in shading pets or human areas because the amount and spectrum light color under this netting is suspected of increasing confusion and inability of depth perception over prolonged periods of use.
Black shade cloth used over blueberry plants in a commercial setting showed higher vegetative growth, had no effect on Kiwi fruit or Philodendron plants when tested in a nursery.
But, when using black, blue and green shade cloth for plants where increased leaf growth is desirable, there is a greater chance of powdery mildew forming, under these particular colors. One additional tidbit is that whiteflies like to shelter under black netting more than under any other color.
Colors that Increase Grip and Strength
Red shade cloth effects the muscular strength of those working beneath it due to the way in which the light is dispersed. While the reduction of active radiation is slightly less than that using the black cloth, it is significantly better at preventing muscle strain in workers; it has also been shown to markedly increase mental perceptions.
Red netting produced higher leaf mass in philodendron in the Stamps testing done in 1994 as well as other plants or herbs grown for their leaf production, according to the testing done in Brazil in 2007. In that same experiment, cane plants produced more leaves and grew stronger and taller.
However, Thai Basil and Genovese Basil did better using the Violet and/or Blue netting than it did with any other color. However, Cilantro plants became less marketable when grown under both blue and red cloths. Violet netting [which consists of the blue-range of hues as well as the red] decreases the UV light which can inhibit growth in some plants while intensifying growth in others. Nut trees love the violet shade cloth increasing production, quality and lowering cost of pruning.
White shade cloth is useful for patio, deck and pet areas as well as for greenhouse and field applications. For agricultural purposes, white netting produces better quality and quantities of fruit grown on trees— including olives than any other color. Use the white shade cloth to cover areas where grip strength is an important factor [such as tennis courts].
ALUMINET® Cool Shade
ALUMINET is a trade-marked, metalized shade cloth that is newest to the market. This is the ideal product for vegetable and floral production in commercial environments. In southern climates where summer heat tends to damage plants and colored shade cloth tends to increase humidity and temperatures, ALUMINET reflects the heat as well as UV light keeping the temperature at moderate levels beneath it. In northern climates, testing showed that it retained the heat, preventing plants from freezing.
Shading Applications for People and Pets
There was a time when we only concerned ourselves with using sunscreens when going to the beach or to an all-day outdoor event. It’s noteworthy that the atmosphere of the earth has changed and protection against UV light is essential if you are outside more than 10-minutes during the day.
UV rays are known to cause skin cancer, cataracts, skin-aging and immune system diseases; it’s perhaps worthwhile to note that there has been a dramatic increase in these diseases among people and pets over the last ten years.
Shade cloths that diffuse and/or reduce UV light is one way to protect children, pets and elderly. ALUMINET is an optimal choice for screening and shading but if you prefer a color shade cloth, white and decorative brown blends into most home environments.