If your home or garden plot is surrounded by trees, buildings or other shade-producing structures, you may be thinking you’re out of luck when it comes to growing vegetable.
Luckily, there are quite a few vegetables that can grow in shade for you to include in your garden lineup. Whether you’re working with an area with partial shade or dappled shade, you’ll be able to find shade tolerant vegetables that will thrive in your garden.
Instead of seeing the shaded areas in your garden as obstacles, consider them an opportunity to provide the right microclimate for vegetables that may not do well under the scorching summer sun.
While fruit-producing veggies like tomatoes or squash require full sun to properly produce, leaf and root vegetables are far more tolerant, and may even prefer, periods of shade throughout the day.
When planning your garden layout, make sure to observe how the sun moves over your land as well as how sunny, and shady areas change depending on the season. This will help you decide what to plant where depending on the time of year.
Below we’ll go over some shade-loving vegetables that will do well in areas with less than ideal sunshine.
When talking about how much sun a plant needs, there are five types of sun exposure levels. Understanding these will allow you to make the right place decisions for your veggies.
Full Sun: Areas of full sun receive 6 or more hours of direct sunshine each day.
Partial Sun: Areas of partial sun get between 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day and are in light shade for the rest of the day.
Partial Shade: Areas of partial shade get between 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight throughout the day. During the rest of the day, the area may be in light or full shade.
Light Shade: Light shade areas receive intermittent and dappled sun throughout most of the day, such as when some sunlight is coming through the leaves of nearby trees. It may receive an hour or two of direct sunlight, but for the most part, the sunlight in areas of light shade is indirect.
Full Shade: An area of full shade receives no direct or reflected sun throughout the day and does not make a good place to grow vegetables. Usually, only some weeds will grow in areas with full shade.
Vegetables That Grow In Partial Shade
Partial shade veggies don’t like being in the sun for most of the day, especially in hot climates. However, they won’t grow very well if they get too much shade.
You may be able to grow partial sun veggies in partial shade, but they won’t produce as much fruit or grow as vigorously.
Root vegetables grow really well in partial shade.
Here are some of the best veggies for areas with partial shade:
Being a root vegetable, carrots don’t require full sun and will do best when not subjected to high heat levels. They prefer somewhat cooler temperatures, making them a perfect fit for partially shaded areas.
Another root vegetable that prefers growing in partial shade. Like carrots, they will get sweeter in cooler temperatures.
Although onions require full sun to grow well, you can easily grow scallions in partial shade to get your onion flavor fix.
Potatoes also prefer the cooler temperatures afforded by a shady spot. They don’t tolerate high temperatures and may wilt under full sun.
Like other root veggies, turnips will do best in the shade where it’s cooler. If you like the taste, definitely try to grow some in your partially shaded garden space this year.
Parsnips look like white carrots and can be planted alongside them. Just like carrots, they’ll appreciate the cooler areas of your garden.
This unique vegetable tastes almost like a blend of broccoli and cabbage, and like those veggies, it also grows best in a cooler area. If you want to try something new, consider growing kohlrabi in your partially shaded areas.
Growing your bush beans in partial shade will help the plant to stay healthy and strong. Full sun may end up cooking your beans while still on the vine.
Another root vegetable, radishes are easy to grow and add a lot of flavor to a dish. They do best under partial shade.
This cool weather-loving plant will do best in partial shade, especially if you choose to grow it during the summer months.
Another plant in the onion and garlic family, leeks do best under partial shade.
Broccoli loves cooler weather and can grow very well in partial shade, even though it’s usually suggested for partial sun. Growing broccoli in partial shade will help extend your broccoli growing season later into the year.
Like broccoli, cauliflower is usually recommended for partial sun areas during the cooler months. If you’d like to extend your cauliflower growing season into later in the year, plant them in partial shade areas and you’ll be harvesting cauliflowers mid-summer.
These tiny little cabbage-like plant loves some cool weather and will do very well in partial shade, especially during the warmer months.
Vegetables That Grow In Light Shade
Some veggies prefer it even cooler than what a partial shade can offer. This is especially true of leafy greens that grow best during the colder months and may bolt as warm weather approaches.
Growing them in light shade during the summer months may help to extend your growing season with these plants.
Here are some of the best veggies for light shade:
Probably one of the best shade veggies, lettuce loves growing in the cold. If you want to try your hand at growing some during the summer, put them in areas of your garden that are well shaded and only get intermittent sun throughout the day.
Another cold-loving green, spinach will do best in lightly shaded areas with less than a couple of hours of direct sunlight.
Similar to lettuce, this spicy leaf will do best in the cooler areas of your garden. If it gets too hot, it may try to set seed and turn really bitter.
Add color to your garden with Swiss chard. This beautiful and delicious veggie will grow great in the cooler, shaded areas of your garden.
Celery can be tough to grow, but it does best in cooler areas without too much sun. If you succeed at growing some in your garden, it’ll definitely be in the shade.
Cabbage makes a great addition to a cool, shaded garden. The cooler the weather, the fewer cabbage pests you’ll have to deal with, too, making it a great addition to an area with light shade.
These delicious veggies are easy to grow and often a family favorite. Plant them in areas of light shade, and you’ll definitely get a big harvest.
This garden perennial does best in the cooler weather, so make sure to tuck it into a lightly shaded corner of your garden. You won’t be disappointed with your harvest!
Another cool weather leafy green, watercress does best under light shade and tastes great in salads and on sandwiches.
Even if you don’t have that much space in your garden that gets the full sun needed to grow plentiful harvests of tomatoes and melons, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a large bounty of other veggies.
There are many tasty shade tolerant vegetables that you can include in the darker parts of your garden.
By planting the vegetables on this list, you’ll be able to produce delicious and nutritious foods for you and your family all while implementing a permaculture approach that maximizes your space by utilizing every available microclimate on your land. Now that’s gardening!