Gardening & Homesteading

28 Vegetables That Grow in Partial Shade

28 Vegetables that Grow in Partial Shade

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 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.

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 VegetablesBeets, 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.

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!

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.

3 Comments

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  • We always recommend to our customers to be careful when planting mint in the open space garden. I mean, it is a great herb and helps a lot in a household, but it is also a very invasive plant and can easily conquer your whole garden.

    It would be best if you plant it in pots, instead of the garden.

  • Thank you for this! I have a shady yard and my only full sun spot is on my deck, I’m also very unlucky with potted plants if they aren’t herbs. I feel like there’s some hope for this year’s garden now.

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