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Shade Tolerant Vegetables and Herbs to Grow

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61 Vegetables and Herbs That Grow in Shade

If you’re thinking of growing shade loving herbs and vegetables because you don’t have a sunny open space, below is a small list that you can tackle.

Individual garden pots and window boxes are small, easy, convenient ways to grow plants of all kinds, indoors and out. But how do you go about it?

If you’re able to meet the specific needs of each plant, you can grow a variety of crops that can survive in low light.

The number of vegetables that love shade is quite staggering [1].

Shade Tolerant Vegetables

  1. Beets
  2. Broccoli
  3. Asparagus
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Carrots
  6. Cauliflower
  7. Leeks
  8. Potatoes
  9. Green onions (part shade)
  10. Scallion
  11. Turnips
  12. Radishes
  13. Rhubarb
  14. Garlic
  15. Peas
  16. Rutabagas (Swede)
  17. Kohlrabi

Any of these veggies will survive and thrive in shaded areas such as pots. That’s because they don’t need a lot of light to receive nutrients as long as their other needs are satisfied.

Your best bet to growing partial shade vegetables is to specifically choose crops adapted to such conditions, especially if you’re a gardener who has the itch but doesn’t have access to full sunlight.

If you live in an apartment, for instance, gardening can be somewhat tricky. In this manner, sometimes proper innovation can work wonders when your resources are limited.

Shade Tolerant Herbs

  1. Angelica
  2. Basil
  3. Catnip
  4. Dill
  5. Chervil
  6. Chives
  7. Costmary
  8. Stinging Nettle
  9. Garden cress
  10. Germander
  11. Horseradish
  12. Lemon balm
  13. Lovage
  14. Mint
  15. Parsley
  16. Rosemary
  17. Sweet Flag
  18. Sweet woodruff
  19. Valerian
  20. Cilantro
  21. Tarragon
  22. Golden Oregano
  23. Wild Bergamot
  24. Thyme
  25. Anise
  26. Meadowsweet
  27. Spicebush

Plant these in pots or low-light areas in your yard. Also, it’s important to remember that crops grown in partial sun are likely going to take more time to mature and thus, will take longer to harvest.

It’s advisable to start with a handful of seedlings to see how they fare before diving headlong into the project.

Similarly, you’ll also want to take into account that the size and harvest of your herb garden will be considerably less than it would be with a traditional outdoor box.

There are things you can do to allow more light to reach your garden. These include painting nearby walls or fences white to force more light to reflect on your crops.

Proper research will work wonders for your ideas. Combine that with the right amount of effort, and you’ll be looking at a fruitful harvest the entire summer.

Leafy Greens

  1. Arugula
  2. Pak Choy / Bok choy
  3. Celery
  4. Chicory
  5. Collards
  6. Endive
  7. Kale
  8. Kang kong
  9. Mustard greens
  10. Chinese cabbage
  11. Lettuce
  12. Spinach
  13. Swiss chard
  14. Mesclun
  15. Mizuna
  16. Tatsoi
  17. Watercress

These are leafy greens that will grow well in part sun.

The best thing you can do for partial or full shade crops is to keep them in pots that you can move and shift around to acquire whatever sunlight they can get. Otherwise, you risk them growing stringy and weak. Therefore, it’s best to stick to crops you’d grow for their leaves and roots.

Root veggies mostly rely on nutrients found in the soil and therefore, don’t need much sunlight.

You’ll want to be sure to avoid most fruiting crops [2], such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These are happiest in gardens that receive eight or more hours of sunlight every day.

This makes them very difficult to grow in portable pots and window boxes where light might not be most prevalent.

Advantages of Growing in Little Shade

  • Growing is going to be a lot more succulent and that trademark bitter taste will be far less evident.
  • You’ll also have a lot longer window of time for growing for better growing opportunities.
  • And of course, your precious harvest will be spared the scorching heat of the summer sun you’d otherwise worry might wilt them.

There are three different kinds of vegetable shading gardens possible to set up, depending on the desired veg. These are the factors any gardener must carefully consider before deciding what kinds of crops to grow.

Depending on what you want to grow, and especially depending on the circumstances of your location, your choice depends entirely on the type of setup you build.

It’s important to pay close attention to what sort of sunlight you have where you are as opposed to how much shade you get.

You can grow anything you want as long as you allow for the conditions. Once you know this information, you can start to focus on what you’d like to grow and how.

Garden Types

The three garden types for plants that grow in shade are as follows:

1. Deeply

Just as the name sounds, it’s a garden where sunlight is all but nil, where plants will thrive best.

The only problem is that even these crops need a little bit of sunlight to grow. So if you have full shade, you might struggle to grow anything with vigor.

2. Lightly 

This kind of garden only receives a couple of hours of sunlight per day, so definitely take your desired crops into account when setting up your garden plot or pots.

You’ll want to focus on root veggies and leafy veggies for the best effect. You can set it up either under a thick tree canopy or in the shadow of a building, such as your home.

It’ll also be well ventilated with a fair amount of reflected light.

3. Partially

This type, as opposed to a full-sun garden, will receive about six hours of sunlight per day, experiencing more sunlight in either the early or later parts of the day, but never both.

This is a trickier garden to maintain, but you stand a very real possibility of growing some varieties of fruits and vegetables that tolerate partial light, such as tomatoes and peppers.

Ultimately, your climate and microclimates are going to be the final deciding factor for your choice in gardens and the kinds of crops you can grow in them.


Given what vegetables grow in shade, always consider the amount of sunlight and how well-protected your plants are going to be. Are they at threat from animals? Birds? The sun itself?

As long as your plant is kept relatively happy despite the lack of full sunlight, they’ll still yield results for you. Just be prepared to give a little more of yourself to their care and attention.

Shade tolerant crops require less water and fertilizer. Moisture is more easily retained without the sun to drain it away constantly, especially if mulch is involved. You can even use larger plants to provide more coverage for smaller plants.

If you’re dedicated to the idea of a shady garden in your home where direct sunlight is difficult to attain, then your dream isn’t that ambitious.

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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