- How much sun do your vegetables need?
- Full sun
- List of vegetables that can be grown in the shade
- How to grow your vegetables in shade?
- Useful tips
- Deciding what vegetables can be grown in the shade house
- Veggies and greens that thrive in partial shade:
- Vegetables that will tolerate partial shade:
- Partial Sun and Partial Shade Vegetables
- 28 Vegetables That Grow in Partial Shade or Partial Sun
- Take Advantage of Shade in the Garden
- 7 Vegetables That Grow in Shade
- Salad greens
- Leafy greens
- Root veggies
- Brassica veggies
- Peas and beans
- Leeks and onions
- Top 12 Shade Loving Vegetables And Herbs To Grow
- 1: Lettuce:
- 2: Spinach:
- 3: Salad Greens:
- 4: Asian Greens:
- 5: Root Vegetables:
- 6: Herbs:
- 7: Beans And Peas:
- 8: Garlic:
- 9: Broccoli:
- 10: Cauliflower:
- 11: Mint:
- 12: Thyme:
- Tips For Growing Vegetables And Herbs In The Shade:
- Top Vegetables That Grow In The Shade
- Top Herbs That Grow In The Shade
- Do you need more delicious goodness fresh from the farm?
- You have Successfully Subscribed!
- 10 best vegetable crops for shade
- Recipes for shade-loving vegetables
- The Best Vegetables for Shade
Lack of direct sun exposure should not be the reason to stop you from growing your own vegetables in your garden. Although many vegetables need a lot of sunlight, some will actually thrive in cool and darker areas in a shade house. Apart from that, you should also consider what kind of vegetables can be grown in/under shade.
To fully understand this, here is a blog post to guide you on how to grow vegetables in a shade house.
How much sun do your vegetables need?
There are different kinds of vegetables that need different amount of sunlight. To know how much sunlight your vegetable needs, here are the basic sunlight conditions:
This is the part of your garden that receives direct light (usually 6 or more hours a day between 10 am and 6 pm) from the sun. Generally, fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers need to be planted in full sun areas where they receive the most sunlight during the day.
- Partial shade or partial sun
Partial shade or partial sun refers to the portion of your garden that obtains 3-6 hours of sun or shade for the rest of the day. Root vegetables which include beets, carrots and potatoes can be grown in partial shade areas.
- Light shade
Light shade areas get less sunlight or reflected light during the day. It usually receives about 2 to 4 hours of sunlight per day. Leafy vegetables like spinach, chards and salad greens are the most tolerant plants that you can grow in light shade places.
List of vegetables that can be grown in the shade
Basically, root crops and leafy vegetables can thrive in shade houses. Here is a list of some vegetables that are perfect for shade houses. Note that this is not an all-inclusive list, but it can give possible options to help you get started.
- Brussels sprouts
- Herbs (almost all)
How to grow your vegetables in shade?
Vegetables that are grown in shade houses are most likely to be succulent and free of bitter taste. To effectively grow your vegetables in a shade house, look for areas which receive sunlight above ground level. Areas that are shaded in the morning but sunny by afternoon are perfect for climbing vegetables like beans, peas and cucumbers.
Here are some useful tips that can help you grow your vegetables in a shade house.
- Use good soil with nutritious compost when growing your vegetables in the shade house.
- Since you are growing your plant in the shade house, watering requirements may be different than growing plants in full sun. Thus, you may not need to water your vegetables as often because moisture doesn’t evaporate too quickly in the shade house.
- Check your shade house regularly for pests such as slugs and snails which can thrive in cool and shady areas. You must also practice good sanitation procedures to avoid pest problems.
- You can utilise reflective mulches to cast light up onto your plant. Reflective mulches can also reduce damages that are caused by pests such as aphids.
You can also experiment with a small shade house with your vegetables in it and observe their growth.
Deciding what vegetables can be grown in the shade house
When deciding on what vegetable to be grown in your garden shade house, think of which part of the plant is consumed. Crops where leaves and roots are consumed like spinach and potatoes tend to grow perfectly in partially shaded conditions or in shade houses. On the other hand, vegetables whose fruits are eaten like tomatoes and cucumbers, grow well in full sun where it requires at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Generally speaking, growing a successful vegetable garden depends on the attention and care you give to it.
Vegetables that are grown in the shade tend to produce a more succulent crop. Moreover, growing in the shade can make your vegetables less to bolt. A quality shade house can be your companion to effectively grow your vegetables.
Shade house can offer other benefits to your plants such as a temporary relief from extreme heat. By careful planning, you can successfully cultivate the right vegetables in the shade house.
When it comes to choosing the right shade house, it is wise to pick the one that fits your garden. You can choose shade house kits in various sizes and frame designs that suits your garden.
If you’re like me and you love to grow your own food but have limited access to all day sun, do not fret – a bountiful harvest is still well within your reach. Just like the gardeners that grow them, many vegetables will actually appreciate a little respite from the sun during the hottest months of the growing season.
As a general guideline, plants that are grown for their leaves or stems will do better in partial shade and dappled sunlight. Plants that are grown for their roots or their fruit will do best with full sun exposure, though many of these plants will still produce in partial sun, just with a smaller yield. Below you’ll find a list of both.
These are just the plants I have grown personally, so if I’ve left anything out or if you have had a different experience, please share your thoughts in the comments at the bottom.
Shade grown vegetable garden image via Grow Veg
Veggies and greens that thrive in partial shade:
Arugula, endive, watercress: 3-4 hours of sun per day. These greens welcome shade as they tend to bolt and become bitter in too much sun or heat.
Asian greens (bok choi, pak choi, komatsuna, tatsoi): As little as 2 hours of sun per day. They enjoy bright shade with ambient light.
Chard: 3-5 hours of sun per day. Though the plants will be smaller than they would be if grown in full sun, they will still produce plenty of tender greens when grown in partial shade.
Kale, mustard greens, collards: 3-4 hours of sun exposure per day. Again, your plants may be a bit smaller than those grown in full sun, but will still be worthy of your time and energy, producing plenty for consumption!
Lettuce: Minimum 3-4 hour sun exposure. Again, shade is actually beneficial in this scenario as lettuce tends to bolt when the heat comes on. Partial shade may actually extend the harvesting life of your lettuce by 2 or 3 weeks, if not longer.
Mesclun: Grown for it’s baby greens, as little as 2-3 hours of sun a day will be enough to nurture this salad mix to fruition. The baby leaves can be harvested in as little as 4-5 weeks. If you’re careful to harvest the leaves without disturbing the roots, you should be able to repeat the process 3 or 4 times before replanting.
Mustard greens: As little as 3-4 hours of sun per day for baby greens. Mustard greens can often become overwhelmingly strong if grown in full sun to full size! Partial shade helps these leaves remain delicately spicy – perfect for salad.
Green onions (scallions): 3 hours + of sun per day. These onions will do well in partial shade all season long.
Spinach: 3-4 hours of sun per day. Another early bolter, best grown both early and late in the season as spinach just doesn’t seems to be able to produce much before bolting in the heat of mid-season.
Stinging Nettles: Though these will need to be harvested with care, they are both edible and highly nutritious. When harvested in the early spring they are oh so very tender. Try them steamed stir fried or in pesto! Recipe for Nettle pesto here.
Fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern: The term -fiddlehead’ refers to the new shoots of the fern, which resemble the curled head of a fiddle just as they begin their accent into full grown fronds. These delectable little darlings are available only once a year, early in the spring, are delicious when lightly steamed or sauteed. Though fiddleheads can easily be harvested in the wild (what a fun spring activity!) they can easily be cultivated in the shadiest recess of any garden. We ended up planting them in a super shady bed previously home to a variety of Hostas. The Ostrich ferns we transplanted thrive in this space and now provide a few delicious meals each spring.
Culinary Herbs: Many herbs will tolerate as little as 3 hours of sun per day. Chives, cilantro (expect leggier cilantro) garlic, chives, mint, oregano, lemon balm and parsley will all do well with partial shade.
Vegetables that will tolerate partial shade:
Peas and beans: I have successfully grown both of these in as little as 5 hours of sun per day. Consider growing bush variety beans in partial shade conditions as they seem to need less sun than their viney counterparts.
Root veggies: 4-5 hours of sun. Almost all root veggies can be grown in partial shade situations, but be aware that the less sun these crops get the longer they will take to mature. If you are a fan of baby carrots and new potatoes, which can both be expensive to buy, you will have no problem propagating these for yourself in less than full sun.
Brussels sprouts: I have successfully grown brussels sprouts in 4-5 hours of sun as well. Again, they did not do nearly as well as those that were planted in full sun, but they did produce beautiful & tasty (if not somewhat smaller) brussels sprouts that I was thrilled to harvest, eat and serve!
Winter squash: This is another plant that will definitely do better in full sun, but will still produce when only offered partial sun. I have grown multiple varieties of winter squash in as little as 4-5 hours of direct sun exposure. The plants grew voraciously in the partial shade situation and though the squash themselves were small in size, they were fully ripe and absolutely delicious when it came time to harvest. I also really appreciated the smaller size of the squash for those times I was making dinner for only myself and partner. We could easily finish one to ourselves and it was just enough!
I have also heard tell of broccoli and cauliflower producing in partial shade, but have not had success with either of them myself. Many other factors may have been at play though, so if you love these veggies and only have partial shade, give it a try.
Good luck this growing season! This is just a short list, and as always, we would love to hear about your experiences so don’t hesitate to share below.
SFF may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Most food gardening requires a full day of sun to help your fruits and vegetables to grow and ripen properly. But what if your yard has shady spots? Can you still grow some of your own food?
The answer is YES! There are plenty of herbs and vegetables and herbs that can be grown in full shade, dappled shade, or as little as three to six hours of sun a day. Here is a list of 28 vegetables that grow in partial shade.
Partial Sun and Partial Shade Vegetables
On the seed packages in the garden stores and catalogs, you will often see the words “partial sun” or “partial shade.” But what does this mean, exactly?
“Partial Sun” are vegetables that require at least four hours of sunlight per day, but often thrive with less than six hours of direct sunlight.
“Partial sun” usually means that the plant could still do well with more sun, and “partial shade” often means that the plant would do better with four to six hours as a maximum.
- How to Grow Beets Organically
- How to Grow Peas Organically
- 20 Perennial Vegetables to Plant Once for Years of Bounty!
28 Vegetables That Grow in Partial Shade or Partial Sun
Salad Greens – Salad greens like loose leaf lettuce, sorrel, endive, cress and arugula will actually scorch and bolt to seed if they get too much sun all day. If you plant them in partial shade, you might be able to harvest these veggies for a few weeks longer than those with full-sun gardens.
Herbs – Herbs like as mint, chervil, coriander/cilantro and parsley prefer partial shade. In fact, mint is a such a strong plant, even your best attempts to kill it will probably fail. Be sure to grow it in a container so it doesn’t smother everything around it.
Peas and Beans – If your garden area gets at least five hours of sun each day, you might be able to grow some peas and beans. Just be sure to choose bush and dwarf varieties rather than pole varieties.
Broccoli and Cauliflower – Full sun on broccoli can cause rapid flowering (which ruins the taste), while partial sun encourages tighter heads and slower flowering. Remember that after you cut off the large central head, leave the plant in the ground so smaller heads can form along the stem in the leaf axils. With cauliflower, limiting sunlight to under 6 hours daily means tighter heads of cauliflower.
Cabbage and Brussels sprouts — Brussels sprouts are a cold-tolerant plant, and like most cool-weather plants, they do well with limited sunlight. Although cabbage is broad-leafed, too much sun will dry it out and encourage smaller heads and bigger open leaves.
Radishes – Radishes are fast-growing, easy veggies that fit nicely between your larger plants. They prefer a bit of shade during the heat of summer, when too much heat can cause them to turn woody and bolt to seed.
Leafy Greens – Super nutritious greens like spinach, Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens and kale only need about three or four hours of sun each day to thrive.
Root Vegetables – Beets, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga and turnips will do OK in partial shade, but you’ll have to wait longer for a full crop. But the good news is that less light encourages more root growth than leaf growth. And, don’t forget that with beets and turnips, you can harvest the delicious greens, even if the root stays small.
Leeks and Onions — Leeks and onions thrive in cooler, more moist environments, and need less sun in order to encourage below-ground growth.
SFF readers get 10% OFF all seeds at MiGardener!
Take Advantage of Shade in the Garden
Knowing more about the sunny and shady places in your yard can help you plant the right crops in the right place.
Pay attention to the way the sun moves through your yard throughout the year. Does your shade come from trees or from buildings and other structures on your property? How does the shade change throughout the day during the spring? How about during the summer, when the days are longer and the sun is higher in the sky?
You’ll find that even the most sunny garden areas provide some shade, and this is a good thing! Be creative with plant placement and you’ll find that you can create shady areas to improve the conditions your plants prefer.
Tall stalks of corn, for example, can provide partial shade for smaller radishes and peas, while heavy-leafed squash and zucchini plants might provide shade for smaller carrots or turnips.
Be creative, and take advantage of the many yummy crops that will thrive in your shady spots!
7 Vegetables That Grow in Shade
Not every gardener is blessed with full sun, making vegetable gardening challenging. But, by choosing shade tolerant vegetables, it’s possible to harvest plenty of fresh, homegrown produce.
Different levels of shade
Before you begin experimenting with vegetables that grow in the shade, it’s important to understand there are different levels of shade, and each level has a different degree of productivity.
Dappled shade occurs beneath deciduous trees, where the sunlight filters through the foliage. This is the best canopy for shade tolerant vegetables, as they’ll still receive occasional light during the day, depending on the sun’s movement.
Partial shade occurs when a garden receives sun for only a portion of the day, perhaps in the morning or afternoon. It’s quite possible to grow a decent vegetable garden in partial shade, just be careful to select the right kinds of shade loving vegetables.
Full shade conditions, such as on the north side of a structure or under heavy tree cover, make growing even shade tolerant vegetables difficult. In deep shade such as this, gardening is a struggle.
7 vegetables that grow in the shade
Most vegetables require a minimum of six to eight hours of sun. This is especially true of vegetables that produce fruits, such as tomatoes, squash, and peppers. But, the veggies listed below have a high shade tolerance, and you’ll get good yields, even with only two or three hours of sun.
For the best results from this shade tolerant vegetable, harvest leaves in the baby stage, while the plants are young. If full-sized heads are desired, stick with loose-leaf types.
One of the most nutritious shade loving vegetables around, kale thrives in just a few hours of sunlight per day. Kale is also extremely cold tolerant, making it a great crop for fall harvests.
Though their roots will be slightly smaller than carrots grown in full sun, and they’ll take a few weeks longer to mature, it is possible to grow a decent crop of carrots with minimal sunlight.
Swiss chard produces edible leaves and stalks all summer long. Don’t expect huge leaves in the shade, but tender baby chard leaves are amply produced with only three hours of sun per day.
Another shade tolerant root crop, beets produce small – but delicious and tender – roots in the shade. In areas with less than four hours of sun per day, focus on growing beets for their greens, not roots.
This peppery salad green doesn’t just tolerate shade, it thrives in it. Because arugula bolts when the weather warms, growing it in shade extends the harvest.
A quick-growing veggie that’s ready to harvest in a mere 30 days, radish is one of the best vegetables to grow in shade. In dappled shade, this early crop is ready to harvest even before the leaves emerge from the trees.
In my first New York garden I grew rooftop crops in all-day sun: eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes—sunrise-to-sunset stuff. Two moves later, losing sun along the way, I have been plunged into north-facing shade with summer-only hours of sunlight. This challenge forced me, an edible gardener and cook, to explore the possibilities of edible shade gardening.
Let those tomato dreams go. Gardening in denial will frustrate you to such a degree that you may be tempted to throw in the trowel, and you don’t want that. Instead, when dealt a shady hand, adjust your expectations. There is life after shade. And it can be exciting.
Read on for a list of 23 edible plants—some common, some surprising—to grow in a shady garden.
Photography by Marie Viljoen.
Above: Not all shades are equal. The list of plants that follows grows in conditions ranging from full shade (no sun) to semi-shade (less than six hours). I have open shade, created by a Brooklyn brownstone between the garden and the sun. In summer the sun rises high enough to give some of my plants some hours of direct sunlight. But in spring and fall I grow in full shade.
Above: Many leafy greens perform well in shade. From nasturtiums to lettuces, cresses, kales, and pea shoots, you will be able to grow you own salad bowls without hours of direct sun.
Above: If I had to pick one plant for president of the shade garden it would be arugula. Not only does it germinate reliably and fast, but my shade-grown arugula has been fuller and more prolific than the sun-exposed crops of other years.
Above: A cold season crop, lambs lettuce (also called mâche and corn salad) sown in fall can be picked late in the year or overwintered to become lush the following spring.
Above: Planted in succession in early spring, cold-loving spinach can be harvested until warm weather begins. My seed came from Grow Journey’s Seeds of the Month Club ($11.99 a month for a year’s subscription).
Above: There is a cornucopia of mustard varieties to choose from, and they relish the protection that shade gives them from summer sun. Even better, they prefer the cooler weather at each end of the growing year.
Above: A wild salad green with deeply toothed leaves, minutina (Plantago coronopus) is also commonly called erba stella or bucks-horn plantain. Most sources will state that it “cannot grow in shade.” Mine does. Yours will, too.
A packet of Minutina seeds is $3.95 from Johnny’s Seed.
Try these shade-tolerant veggies in your garden!
Don’t give up on a vegetable garden because you have more shade than you would like. Many gardeners don’t have the opportunity to grow in the ideal 8+ hours of full sun, especially in the city. However, many veggies can tolerate partial shade; a few even appreciate it!
“Partial shade” refers to areas that are exposed to 3-6 hours of sunlight. Areas that receive dappled sun or filtered sunlight for most of the day are also considered to be in partial shade. Even in less-than-ideal sun exposure, you can still do some veggie gardening. Just try it out and see! Often, gardeners with shade garden success earned it with a little trial and error.
Keep reading for veggies to try out in your garden!
arugula, endive, lettuce, sorrel, spinach
Salad greens generally do well in cooler weather and they welcome some shade! It can be tricky to grow them during the hottest part of the summer because these veggies go to seed (also known as bolting) more quickly with too much heat or sun. However, a shadier spot can help extend their production. Salad greens tolerate 3-4 hours of sun per day very well.
collards, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard
These leafy greens are often served cooked. With 3-4 hours of sun daily, they will grow more slowly but will be tender and sweeter as their smaller selves.
beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, turnips
You can harvest root veggies before they reach their full size for “baby” vegetables, or wait a little longer for a fully mature crop. They’ll take a little longer to reach full size in 4-5 hours of sun, but partial shade will prevent them from bolting too quickly. Radishes especially prefer a bit of shade from the heat of summer, to keep them from turning woody and bolting. Consistent watering is also important to avoid woodiness. Keep in mind that you can harvest the delicious greens of beets, turnips, and radishes even if the root stays small.
Broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage
These veggies in the Brassica genus grow tighter heads and flower later with partial sun. With broccoli and cauliflower, you may be able to get a second smaller crop after you cut off the main central head. These cool-weather plants do well with 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
Peas and beans
Being in a shaded spot will lengthen the growing season for peas and beans! These veggies can do well with about 4-5 hours of sun daily. Remember to pick peas and beans regularly to encourage continued growth. Read more tips in our blog post on how to grow peas.
Leeks and onions
Leeks and onions do very well in cooler, moist environments. They can get by with at least about 4 hours of sun per day.
mint, chervil, chives, coriander/cilantro, oregano, parsley
Herbs make great additions to a shady veggie garden! Keep in mind these herbs will grow more quickly and densely with more sun, but they usually still do well with 4 hours of sun per day. Also, note that mint is such a vigorous grower that it’s best to put it in a container so it doesn’t take over your garden.
Meals are best when the ingredients are home-grown; don’t let some shade stop you! Happy planting!
Helpful Veggie Gardening Resources:
First Year Veggie Garden
6 Essential Steps for a Successful Vegetable Garden
Partly Sunny Veggie Garden Pinterest Board
Top 12 Shade Loving Vegetables And Herbs To Grow
Most of the vegetables and herbs that grow in shade are roots crops or leafy. Therefore, fruit producing veggies like cucumbers, eggplant and tomatoes are certainly not your choice. The plants grown in shade would compromise on sun, definitely, but not water. You have to supply lots and lots of water. Well, this is a perfect holiday place for slugs and snails, so be diligent in order to scout them. Otherwise, they would wipe out your efforts.
Have a look at 12 effective and simple to grow shade loving plants –
At least three to four hours of sun per day.
Lettuce is one of the perfect shade loving vegetables. For you knowledge, the bright sun tends to bolt the leaves, so the shade is better for its growth. It will grow well by just being exposed to sun for 3 or four hours.
shade loving vegetable Lettuce
Spinach, the Popeye’s power only requires 4 days of sun each day. This vegetable wholeheartedly welcomes shade and grows well without much of the sun being around.
shade loving vegetable Spinach
3: Salad Greens:
A garden without such beautiful greens would appear lifeless. They appear gorgeously cool during the dewy season and have prolonged harvesting period. They fail to grow well in hot summers, so wait for temperature to cool down a bit. The popular shade loving herbs include:
shade loving vegetable Arugula
4: Asian Greens:
The lovely and taste enriched Asian greens like pak choi and mizuna will grow well in just 4 hours sunlight each day. You can even use their baby leaves to make your dishes even interesting, as they have lovely aroma. Mustard greens, kale and chard are also perfect to grow in these conditions.
shade tolerant vegetable asian greens
5: Root Vegetables:
You must have a good idea about the fact that root vegetables are slower to grow but they require lesser sunlight. For example, you can harvest some of the immature ones including potatoes and carrots – baby carrots you must have heard about. Similarly, you can cut down green turnips and beets, even before the bulbs are fill out. Just 4 to 5 hours sunlight is sufficient for growth.
shade tolerant root vegetable
Most of the culinary herbs have the tendency to grow faster. They have the ability to bolt faster under suitable conditions. They might be leggier if not exposed to sun properly. However, some of the herbs that grow in shade and require about 3 hour’s (at least) sunlight for their well growth includes:
7: Beans And Peas:
Beans and peas, both love cooler temperatures. Their requirement for sun is very limited, and that even is for growing the pods and the flowers. In full sun, they tend to fade out, so shade is their best friend. So, you just need to expose them to sun for like 4 to 5 hours a day and you are done.
shade tolerant root vegetable beans
Garlic belongs to the onion’s family, sound strange right? Well, it has super medicinal properties and has been favorite herbal treatment for years. Within rich soil, and a few hours in sun, the plant will grow at its best.
shade loving vegetable Garlic
This lush green shade loving veggie is ready to be picked and cooked within 2.5 months. It grows well in the soil which is well drained, and has a good combination of clay loan and sand. Also, the soil pH must be from 5.9 to 6.5. It will facilitate the growth you want. Just a few hours of sun and you will get the best results within 2 months.
Within 110 days you will see a full fleshed cauliflower welcoming you in your shaded garden. Yes, it does not ask for much soil, but well drained soil. So, make sure you pay attention towards it growth.
shade loving vegetable Cauliflower
With more than 25 varieties, the plant grows up to 120cm. it is an amazing antioxidant and cleanser. You can use it for herbal treatments and as soup and salads toppings. The plant does not require many conditions for its growth; this makes it a shade friendly plant that requires low maintenance.
shade tolerant vegetables Peppermint
It is one of the most versatile shrubs with flower type flowers. These can be used to extract oil, which has higher culinary and medicinal uses. If you talk in terms of properties, the shrub has anti-fungal or anti-septic properties. Keep the shrub well drained and make sure you place it where it gets sun for 4 or 5 hours.
shade loving herb Thyme
If your garden space is shadier than you want it to be, you don’t need to give up on having a vegetable garden. There are many vegetables and herbs that can grow in partial shade – and even thrive in it!
If you are growing a garden in your backyard that is shady and need plants that will do well, we have you covered.
Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
This post contains affiliate links, this means at no extra cost to you, we make a commission from sales. Please read our Disclosure Statement
Partial shade means an area that is exposed to 3 to 6 hours of sun per day.
If you are new to gardening, or want some support and knowledge getting a garden started, check out our Productive Gardener Course TODAY
Tips For Growing Vegetables And Herbs In The Shade:
Grow vegetables and herbs that are well-adapted to the shade. Do not attempt to grow crops in the shade that actually require full sun or you will be sadly let down.
Begin the crops for a shade garden indoors or in a tunnel house in order to speed up the harvest time. That way germination of the seeds and early seedling growth can start under optimal conditions before they are planted in the shade.
Expect your crops to mature more slowly when they are grown in the shade and lower your expectations when it comes to yield and size.
Thin out high branches and prune low tree branches away in surrounding trees to allow more sunlight into your garden which will benefit the whole garden.
Remember to provide your shade plants with a high-quality soil that drains well, and also water your plants on a regular basis. Just because they love shade doesn’t mean your plants don’t need water.
Here are some of the best vegetables and herbs that you can grow in the shade.
Top Vegetables That Grow In The Shade
1. Lettuce and Salad Greens
Lettuce and salad greens (such as spinach, sorrel, endive, and arugula) grow well in cooler weather and do like some shade.
They like to have 3 to 4 hours worth of sun per day. In the bright sun, they have a tendency to bolt to seed and become bitter, so they definitely grow better in the shade as long as they get enough sunlight every day. Make sure to water them well.
2. Asian Greens
Asian greens such as mizuna and pak choi grow very well in only about 4 hours of sun a day. Their baby leaves can provide your dishes with an interesting flavor and aroma.
3. Leafy greens
Leafy greens such as Swiss chard, mustard greens, kale, and collards do well in 3 to 4 hours of sun. They will grow slower but be sweeter and more tender on smaller plants.
4. Root Vegetables
Root vegetables such as turnips, rutabaga, radishes, potatoes, carrots, and beets grow well in partial shade. They need about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight per day.
These vegetables can either be grown as a fully mature crop or harvested as “baby” vegetables if you like them more tender.
Partial shade will help to prevent them from bolting too fast, but it will take longer for them to reach their full maturity and size in 4 to 5 hours of sun every day.
Radishes especially like to have some shade during the summer so that they don’t bolt or become too woody.
It is important to water root vegetables consistently to avoid woodiness. You can also harvest and eat the delicious greens of radishes, turnip, and beets even when the root of the plant is still small.
5. Peas and Beans
When peas and beans that are grown in a shaded area it helps to lengthen their growing season.
These vegetables love cooler temperatures. They do well in around 4 to 5 hours of sun per day. Beans and peas should be picked on a regular basis in order to encourage their continued growth.
6. Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts
These brassica vegetables flower later and grow tighter heads in partial sun. They are cool weather plants that do well in 4 to 6 hours of sun per day.
RELATED: How to grow cabbage
Broccoli is a shade loving vegetable that takes about 2 1/2 months to mature and be ready to harvest and cook. It thrives in well-drained soil, that is a good combination of sand and clay loam.
The pH of the soil should range from 5.9 to 6.5 to facilitate good growth. Broccoli just needs a couple of hours of sun per day.
RELATED: How to grow broccoli
It only takes about 110 days to raise cauliflower in the shade. Make sure it has well-drained soil and plenty of well rotted compost.
9. Onions and Leeks
Onions and leeks do quite well in moist, cool environments. They need about 4 hours of sun per day and will give you a good crop at the end of the season.
Garlic is actually part of the onion family and also can be grown in the shade. It needs a few hours of sun per day and rich soil. It provides both culinary and medicinal properties. You can eat garlic greens along with using its bulbs.
RELATED: How to grow great garlic
Top Herbs That Grow In The Shade
Herbs also make excellent additions to a shade vegetable garden. Herbs do grow more densely and quicker with more sun.
However, they usually can still do quite well in about 3 to 4 hours of sun a day. Many of the herbs such as mint are very vigorous growers, so you might want to grow them in a pot to contain them.
There are over 25 varieties of mint that can be grown. Mint is an incredible cleanser antioxidant. It can be used as an herbal treatment as well as enjoyed as a salad topping, in soups, to make mint tea, or as a flavoring in a wide variety of dishes. It is a shade-friendly plant that does not require a lot of maintenance.
Thyme is one of the most versatile types of herbs. You can extract the oil from a thyme plant for medicinal purposes and, of course, thyme has well-known culinary uses as well. The shrub should be kept well-drained and it needs to have 4 to 5 hours of sun per day.
3. Other Shade Tolerant Herbs
Some of the other herbs that can do well in the shade include parsley, oregano, cilantro/coriander, chives, and chervil, among many others.
As you can see, there are plenty of vegetables and herbs that you can grow in a shaded garden. Just make sure your area gets at least 3 to 4 hours of sun per day, and provide your plants with the sunlight, soil, and water they need in order to thrive.
Do you need more delicious goodness fresh from the farm?
You have Successfully Subscribed!
And don’t worry, we hate spam too! You can unsubscribe at anytime.
10 best vegetable crops for shade
Although a sunny spot is ideal for most fruit and vegetables, many vegetable crops, including beetroot, radish and salad leaves, will grow in shade.
For some crops, protection from summer heat can be a positive advantage. Salad crops, for example, will produce more lush growth and won’t run to seed as readily, when grown in shade.
If you’re after ornamental shade-lovers, for planting in beds, borders and containers, check out our pick of the best shade-loving plants.
Discover 10 vegetables to grow in shade, below.
Radishes can be ready to eat within a few weeks of sowing.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – brassicas
Pick the leaves when young for salads or when larger, as spinach. ‘Bright Lights’ has attractive colourful stems. Protect crops from cold weather with fleece. Sow from March to September. Read more about growing Swiss chard.
All brassicas are tolerant of shade, so as well as as cabbages try growing broccoli, spring greens or Brussels sprouts. Sow seeds in spring for late-season cropping. Net the plants to protect them from cabbage white butterflies.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – beetroot
Beetroots are tolerant of shade, but to get them off to a strong start, sow seeds in modules in bright conditions and then transplant when they’re growing well. Sweet-tasting ‘Boltardy’ is a reliable variety, or try orange ‘Burpee’s Golden’ or striped ‘Chioggia’. Sow seeds every few weeks in spring and summer for a succession of roots. Find out how to sow beetroot.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – salad leaves
Try loose-leaf lettuces, including oak-leaf types and varieties such as ‘Lollo Rosso’, plus fast-growing, spicy leaves like mizuna. Once the soil has warmed up in spring, sow outside in small batches every few weeks for continuous cropping. Find out how to sow salad leaves in a pot.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – kohlrabi
Sow kohlrabi seeds little and often, when temperatures are 10°C or above, and water plants regularly. Peel the swollen stems and toss in butter roast, add to stews or grate raw into salads. The leaves can be eaten like cabbage.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – radishes
Radishes can be ready to eat within a few weeks of sowing. They’re great for adding a spicy kick to salads. Repeat sow for low-effort, non-stop harvests. Watch this video on how to sow radishes.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – carrots
Carrots can tolerate afternoon shade. Avoid squashing the leaves when thinning out seedlings, as the scent attracts carrot fly. Or try pest-resistant varieties ‘Flyaway’ and ‘Resistafly’.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – leeks
On shady plots that get morning sun and afternoon shade, you’ll be able to grow leeks – they need some sun but can cope with shade. Try reliable, hardy varieties such as ‘Musselburgh’ and ‘Autumn Giant’ for heavy crops.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – kale
Kale is a hardy crop that tolerates light shade. Grow a range of different shapes and colours, including ‘Black Tuscany’, ‘Red Winter’, ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ and ‘Red Curled’. Pick the leaves regularly to encourage more to form. Find out how to plant kale.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – broad beans
Hardy overwintering crops such as broad beans, which get off to a quick start in spring, can cope in dappled shade. Early maturing ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is ready to pick a month earlier than other varieties.
Discover the 10 best fruit crops for shade.
Advertisement 10 best vegetable crops for shade – recipes
Recipes for shade-loving vegetables
- Chicken and broad bean pilaf
- Chilli beef and radish noodle soup
- Tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukkah
- Ricotta and kale cannelloni
- Sole with buttered leeks and shrimps
- Roast kohlrabi with ranch dressing
- Carrot cake muffins
- Stuffed cabbage leaves
If you want to raise vegetables, but don’t have a sunny spot to plant them, you’re in luck. There are many varieties of vegetables that grow in shade. By shade, we mean two things.
There is either partial sun or partial shade. The former implies the plant prefers at least four hours of sunshine per day but can handle more than that.
The latter applies to shade-tolerant vegetables that want less than four to six hours of direct sun. Many of these plants are excellent for container vegetable gardening, too. Simply moving them around to shaded areas and to vary your landscape.
The Best Vegetables for Shade
We’ll begin our list with plants that prefer shaded areas in your garden.
Bok choy – Chinese Cabbage
Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, tastes delicious in soups and salads. And it’s effortless to grow in dappled sunlight or shade. It only needs two hours of sunlight per day to develop its characteristic green leaves.
Plant the seeds, or sprout it from roots in water in the spring or fall. Bok choy likes cool weather. And within a month and a half, it will reach to a foot or foot and a half in height. Then you can harvest it for your stir-fry.
Broccoli likes to grow in cold weather and doesn’t mind if temperatures drop below freezing. Plant it in well-drained, rich soil and choose an area with at least one or two hours of direct light. Or, instead of bright sunlight, you can make do with a few hours of indirect light, too.
While broccoli will produce in shady gardens, you won’t harvest a bumper crop. It is also an excellent vegetable for companion planting next to carrots and onions. Both veggies also grow very well in shade. The heads will be fewer and smaller with less light. But that fact won’t alter the flavor at all. Here are our tips on how to freeze broccoli if you have an abundance of the vegetable.
Like broccoli, cauliflower prefers cooler temperatures. If the thermometer hovers in the 60s, you should get good results.
Cauliflower produces larger heads if it gets six hours of light a day. But it handles shaded plots, too. And when the heads are about 2 inches in size, you’ll want to aid in the blanching process.
That means pulling the leaves up to hide the heads and fastening them closed with a clothespin. This little trick makes the meaty part of the vegetable tender and white. Additionally, plant basil around your cauliflower and broccoli vegetables. These will repel mosquitoes and leaf bugs from your plants.
Garden cress loves moist soil, and it grows prolifically. As a matter of fact, it is one of the fastest growing vegetables around. It doesn’t mind if it lives in almost full shade. For these reasons, it’s ideal for container gardens. Grow it along with your favorite best shade loving perennials for added interest and to have cress whenever you want it.
Cress is so easy to grow that your child might raise some as part of a classroom project or it could be a fun project that you could do together. You could even sprout it in a tray on your kitchen countertop and use the cress to garnish a sandwich or spruce up your favorite salad.
Also known as scallions, green onions are hardy, and they grow fast. You can sprout them from roots soaking in a container of water. Then transplant them to a soil in a plot with partial shade. These shade loving perennials will blossom in time. And, as a delightful bonus, this green onion flower is luscious in a salad or to top your baked potato along with butter and sour cream.
If you leave the scallions growing in water only, they do tend to weaken. However, you can always replace them after a trip to the supermarket to pick up a few more. Chop off the bottom about half an inch above the roots and toss that in the jar to start the next batch. You can often grow scallions as perennial crops, too.
Recently, kale chips were all the rage. It seemed like everyone was baking these leafy greens with a little salt and olive oil. Once you try it, you might never go back to potato chips.
To grow your own batch of kale, plant it in early spring to early summer. Even if you plant in late summer, you can harvest after the frost comes. It tastes better after it survives a cold spell. And it only needs a few hours of light to flourish.
Of the many varieties of lettuce, most thrive in indirect light. This is another plant that grows well in an indoor container garden, not only outdoors in a plot. In fact, some growers will shade their lettuce to prevent it from burning.
Lettuce also prefers cool temperatures. And watch the leaves to see when you need to water. If they appear to be wilting, sprinkle them right away. The water will slow down the transpiration rate.
Radishes evoke a reaction. People either love them or hate them. If you adore radishes, then smile because you can raise them in shaded areas. The only consequence of less light is that their roots are smaller and their leaves are more abundant.
Sow radish seeds at the end of the summer or beginning of the fall. If you space out multiple plantings two weeks apart, then you can harvest continuously for a while. It takes radishes about three to four weeks to mature. Quick Tip: Add some periwinkle plants next to your radishes, these ground cover plants will keep bugs away from the radish leaves.
Popeye’s favorite vegetable, spinach, needs a few hours of sunlight to produce healthy, green leaves. But it thrives in spring or fall temperatures. Or, if your winters are mild, you might harvest spinach then, too.
If you plant spinach near radishes, the radishes will keep leaf miners away. The bugs will eat the radish foliage above ground instead of the spinach, but that won’t harm the roots. And keep your spinach growing by only pinching off the leaves you want, leaving the rest for another day.
>> Further Garden Tip: 17 Easy to Grow Perennials for your Garden
Carrots and other root vegetables handle partial sunlight and partial shade with good grace. If you can provide them with six hours of light, they will grow faster. If not, you’ll have to wait longer to harvest them, and you’ll get a smaller yield.
If you plant carrots in rows facing east to west, other plants are less likely to cast shade on them. And keep an eye on the ground. If you can see the orange part exposed, cover it with soil or mulch. Otherwise, that part of the carrot will probably taste bitter.
>> Did you know: Mix old coffee grounds into your garden soil. It is the perfect fertilizer for root crops like carrots and radishes.
Peas don’t mind shade in the morning or evening but give them five hours of direct sun during the day. You can sow their seeds in early spring even if you expect another frost. Typically, this planting period falls around St. Patrick’s Day, depending on where you live.
As one of the better shrubs for shade, peas often grow in bushy clumps. You sometimes have to move the branches around when picking the peas so you don’t miss any.
These shade flowers for pots or the garden have pretty pink or white blooms before the peas appear and they smell heavenly. As the peas grow, water sparingly unless they appear to wilt. They are helpful to plants around them since they add nitrogen to the soil. Picking the pods will encourage new pods to grow – always a great idea so that you can enjoy them longer.
>> Further Gardening and Landscape Tip: The Aucuba shrub is one of the best plants to grow in shade. The perfect kind of evergreen shrubs to mix up your garden.
Potatoes need partial sun with five to six hours of sunlight if you want tubers of a decent size. But if you have a sun-dappled spot with four hours of direct light, give them a try. There are several methods for raising them.
Some gardeners prefer to plant potatoes in a raised bed if their soil has poor drainage. Others like using trenches. These root vegetables like 40-50°F soil temperatures. And remember to “hill” them, or heap extra soil over their roots to protect them from sunburn which makes them taste bitter.
If you are wondering what to grow in the shady parts of your garden, there are at least a dozen vegetables that require less than six hours of sun every day. Some vegetables, like bok choy and green onions, flourish on much less than that. And many of the plants that like less light also thrive in cool weather.
We hope you enjoyed discovering vegetables to raise in your garden. If you liked this article, please share it with your friends, too. When we see that our work is useful to others, it encourages us to continue posting.
By Bec Wenzel
Over my summer break I have been working on creating a new vegetable garden, and whilst I found the perfect sunny position for my small vegetable plot to live I also stumbled across a shady area of my yard which hasn’t been doing much at all. It’s not in a highly visible part of the yard so personally I didn’t want to grow ornamentals. I do like to eat fresh and although I have the main veggie garden I was thinking more edibles would be perfect because you can never have too much fresh produce.
Most of the time when you walk into a garden centre you will be told that if you want a vegetable garden sun is what you need for a good crop, but not many people talk about what the options are for a shady area. I’m sure many of you would love to grow fresh produce but sometimes the shade outweighs the sun in many homes. Fruit crops such as tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants are always best in full sun. The crops that grow well in the shade tend to be either root vegetables or leafy greens. As long as the area receives a few hours of sunlight per day or is in a dappled shade situation you can grow some of the following goodies.
Mesculin, sorrell, arugula, mizuna and mustard greens: very easy to grow in shaded areas, requiring 3-4 hours of sunlight a
day. Great additions to the summer salad.
Lettuce: requires about 3 hours of sunlight a day. Loose leaf varieties are best, not the varieties that form a head. Some options include Oakleaf, Drunken women and Buttercrunch. These lettuce varieties are repeat harvest so don’t pull the whole plant up, pick leaves as you need them.
Spinach: also requires around 3 hours of sunlight a day. Grows extremely well in a shaded position. Helps prevent the spinach from going to seed.
Kale: I find kale does better in the shade than the sun as it is very prone to white fly and this seems to help. It grows better in a cooler position and requires only around 3 hours of sunlight.
Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli: these veggies grow very well in the winter months as they prefer a cooler climate so having them in part shade is a good thing to do during summer.
Beans and peas: these two love the cooler conditions of a shady corner but require slightly more sun at around 4-5 hours a day.
Carrots, beetroot and other root vegetables: around 5 hours of sunlight a day. More than your leafy green crops.
Mint, coriander and parsley: 3 hours of sunlight a day is suitable. These herbs grow extremely well in part shade conditions and it will help prevent them from going to seed.
Some of the advantages of growing vegetables in the shade are:
- Preventing heat stress and scorched leaves
- Preventing the plant from bolting and going to seed
- Longer growing period
- Fresh and lush crop with exceptional taste, without the bitterness
Make sure your soil is rich in nutrients because although these veggies won’t be getting a lot of sun they will need some extra help with compost and manures, and just because it’s a shady area don’t skip out on watering time. The plants still love a good drink over summer. Slugs and snails can cause more issues in your slice of shade so be careful to watch for them and stay ahead of the problem. Slug and snail bait is readily available including child and pet friendly products.
I’ve had a lot of fun stumbling across this unused corner of my garden and turning into a working piece of land for me. It’s only small but I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a bit, herbs being my main hero for the area, and I’ve quite enjoyed being out of the sun for once. Embrace your shady areas and get growing food for the family. No need to miss out on growing fresh produce any more. With only a few hours of sunlight you can do wonders.