There are many veggies that grow in shade. This list of vegetables has options for all types of shade so you can grow lots of food without full sun. Options include broccoli, beans, peas, spinach, and more. And, good news, often veggies can do better without hot, direct sun.
Growing Veggies in Shade
Many gardens have a variety of lighting conditions, from dappled shade under dense trees to full sun in open areas, with variations throughout the day. This is actually ideal for growing a wide range of vegetables including kale, spinach, lettuces and mesclun mix (my favorite!), celery, beets, herbs, and more.
I’ll walk you through how to make it work (and get lots of delicious veggies).
- Once you determine the shade characteristics of your garden (I’ll describe them below), you can plan your veggie garden accordingly.
- If you are not sure about your light and shade conditions but want to get started anyways (cheers for enthusiasm!), consider starting your veggies in containers so you can move them around if they end up needing more or less light than you planned on.
- While sun-loving veggies like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash, watermelon, cucumber, and zucchini (check out the delicious recipes here) won’t thrive in heavier shade conditions, I actually avoid growing them in full, direct sun (more than 7 hours a day) because it dries out the soil. This list focuses on other vegetables but know these guys can tolerate some shade as well.
- The bonus is, providing some shade helps prevent bolting (premature flowering that makes the plants inedible).
Keep in mind that this list of shade veggies is generalized. First and foremost, always select vegetables that are suited for your growing region, follow the planting instructions on your plant tags or seed packets, and be willing to adapt and experiment to find what works best for you.
I can’t list every possible vegetable, but this should give you ideas. You’ll notice natural groupings depending on whether the root, leaf, or bud is eaten.
Types Of Shade
1Partial or Half Shade
- 5-6 hours of sun per day, mainly in the afternoon when the sun is strongest.
- Garden beds that receive this same amount of sun in the mornings are considered ‘light shade’ and plants preferring half shade will not grow as large or quickly with the same amount of afternoon sun which is more intense.
2Dappled Shade, or Light Shade
- This type of shade is usually created by the canopy of trees overhead.
- Light still gets through but it’s not harsh and the total effect is less light than partial or half shade areas.
3Open Shade, Full Shade, or Dense Shade
- Whether the shade is created from an obstruction like a house, or dense tree canopies overhead, these deeper shade areas without any direct sun are not suitable for veggies.
Once you know your shade, you can better decide where to place each type of vegetable crop.
25 Veggies for Shade
There is a hierarchy here, ranging from veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts that prefer a fair amount of sun (partial or half shade), to the salad greens (including mesclun mix) that do fine in dappled and light shade.
Afternoon sun is the strongest and preferable but you’ve got what you’ve got. Try stuff out and see how it works.
The amount of sun listed here is the minimum that will still provide a successful harvest.
5Hours of Afternoon Sun Per Day
This group includes brassicas (edible buds).
- Brussels Sprouts
- Swiss Chard (stalks)
4-5Hours of Afternoon Sun Per Day
This groups includes many root vegetables.
- Pak Choy
3-4Hours of Afternoon Sun Per Day
Edible leaves enjoy some shade and this helps prevent bolting.
- Swiss Chard (leaves)
3Hours of Afternoon Sun Per Day
- Culinary Herbs | Here’s a handy guide to growing annual and perennial herbs
- Mustard Greens
2Hours of Afternoon Sun Per Day
There are some salad greens that do fine with minimal sun. If this is all you’ve got, try growing them and see how they do.
- Asian Greens | Water spinach (ong choy), Shanghai bok choy, Chinese mustard greens (gai choy), Yu choy sum (Chinese oil vegetable), bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli).
- Mesclun Mix
One of my favorite shade crops is mesclun mix (see the seeds here via Amazon.com) which is a bunch of different types of salad greens.
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See When to Harvest Vegetables to catch your veggies at their peak.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛