Not every gardener has a perfect, south-facing sunny spot to grow their vegetables. If you find your gardening areas have more shade than sun-loving vegetables can tolerate, trying planting this list of vegetables that grow in the shade.
Most vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight each day to grow. However, if you are one of those people who has a partially or mostly shady garden area, there’s good news! There are several shade-tolerant vegetables that you can plant that will thrive in your garden.
Shade can offer a couple of perks to the plants and veggies on this list.
First perk: Shade can offer relief from the intense summer heat for vegetables that prefer cooler weather.
Second perk: Shade can enable you to have both early and late harvests by allowing your vegetables to be planted in succession.
So if you have trees, a building, or something else that blocks sunlight from parts of your garden during the day, you don’t need to let those spots go to waste! Plant these shade-loving vegetables in those areas and watch then thrive while enjoying the fruits – or rather, vegetables – of your labor.
What Do the Different Terms for Sun Exposure Mean?
Depending on which compass direction your yard faces as well as the trees, buildings, and other sun-shading features you may have in your yard, you may have any combination of different sun exposure microclimates in your garden areas.
A microclimate is an area of your garden that is different from a spot next to it. For example, a place that receives full shade is different from a spot that receives full sun, even if they are just feet apart from each other.
Here’s a quick explanation of the sun exposure microclimates you may find within your yard.
These areas receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm.
Also referred to as partial sun, these areas receive approximately 3 to 6 hours of direct or filtered sunlight each day. Filtered light is sunlight that is partially blocked by the leaves of trees.
Fully shaded areas receive filtered sunlight throughout the day or very little to no direct sunlight. All vegetables need some light to grow, so a full shade area is not suitable for growing vegetables.
Types of Vegetables That Grow in Shade
You can still enjoy vegetable gardening even if you have less-than-ideal sun exposure in your yard. Generally speaking, vegetables that grow from a blossom (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons) need full sunlight. However, leafy greens, some veggies that grow underground, and cold weather-loving vegetables can grow well in shady areas.
Here are the best vegetables that can grow in partial shade for your garden. If shade is the only space you have to start a garden, you can still grow a considerable amount of fresh produce.
This family of vegetables includes popular vegetable choices such as:
- Brussels sprouts
These cool-weather veggies thrive in partial shade, as they get too hot in full sun. Cauliflower needs at least some shade to go through the blanching process so that the head turns white.
This family of vegetables offers some beautiful varieties that may look wonderful in your flower garden too! Speaking of flower gardening, don’t forget to plant a few flowers in your garden.
This family of greens includes:
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
Of all the vegetables that grow in the shade, this vegetable family does the best in shade. Keeping them in the shade as the season gets hotter helps them to last longer and remain tender.
Root vegetables that grow well in the shade include:
Growing root vegetables in partial shade may take a little longer for them to reach full maturity, but it also keeps them from bolting as quickly. If you just can’t (or want) to keep waiting, you can harvest root veggies before they reach full size to enjoy “baby” versions.
Also, feel free to enjoy the greens of carrots, turnips, radishes, and beets.
Beans and Peas
Growing these vegetables in partial shade lengthens their growing season. Just remember to pick them to encourage continued growth regularly.
Quick Reference- List of 28 Vegetables That Grow in Shade
In case you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick reference for you to have on hand. This is an alphabetical list of shade-tolerant vegetables so you can find what you’re looking for quickly.
- Bok Choi
- Brussels Sprouts
- Cabbage (loose varieties like Chinese cabbage are best)
- Collard greens
- Mustard Greens
- Swiss Chard
Tips to Help Vegetables That Grow in the Shade Thrive
Growing vegetables in shade can present its own unique set of challenges. Here are some helpful tips to help you achieve success.
Ensure Good Soil
Plants that don’t receive food through sunlight need good soil to receive their necessary nutrients. If you don’t have good soil in the area of your garden where you want to grow your shade vegetables, amend it with nutritious, good quality compost. I like to add a handful of worm compost directly to my planting hole, as well as organic compost and rock dust added directly to the soil before planting.
Right Amount of Water
Shade areas require very different levels of watering than full sun areas need because moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly. Get to know the water requirements of your shady areas, as nearby trees can drink up a lot of water, and the leaves may prevent rain from reaching the garden area.
Vegetables that are growing in shady areas but prefer more sun will mature slower than they would if they were growing in full sun. Expect longer times than what is printed on the seed packets for these vegetables.
Space Apart Appropriately
You do not want your vegetables to be overcrowded. Each type of plant requires a certain amount of room to root and grow. The U.S. Department of Agriculture created a handy guide you can use to plan your garden here.
Create The Vegetable Garden Of Your Dreams
If you long for a vegetable garden but lack great sunshine-filled growing areas, you can still have an excellent growing season by planting vegetables that grow in the shade.
The shade-tolerant vegetables on this list offer a nice variety to your garden both in flavor and in visual beauty. I hope you found some veggies on this list that you can’t wait to grow this year.