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Plants That Grow in Shade -- vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers

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87 Plants That Grow in Shade

Most plants need at least six hours of full sun each day to produce healthy growth. There are, however, a number of plants that will tolerate or even prefer less sunlight. These shade-loving plants are ideal for growing in areas where full sun is not available.

Below are some of the best shade-tolerant plants to grow.

Shade Tolerant Vegetables

Some people might think that all vegetables need a lot of sunlight to grow, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of vegetables that are perfectly happy growing in the shade.

So if you’re looking to start a vegetable garden, but don’t have a lot of sunny space, don’t worry! Below is a list of shade-loving vegetables.

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Rutabagas (Swede)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Osaka Purple Mustard
  • Pak Choy
  • Chicory
  • Collards
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Mizuna
  • Tatsoi
  • Watercress

However, try to avoid fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant [2]. These thrive best in gardens that receive eight or more hours of sunlight per day.

Also, with some of these vegetables, especially leafy greens, it’s best to keep them in pots. That way you can move and shift around to acquire whatever sunlight they can get.

Shade Tolerant Herbs

There are plenty of herbs that are perfect for growing in areas with little sunlight. Try planting some of these in your problem area and see how they do.

Here is a list of herbs that can tolerate light shade. Some of these are even shade-loving herbs that grow well in deep shade.

  • Angelica
  • Borage
  • Catnip
  • Arugula
  • Calendula
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Costmary
  • Celery
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Garden Cress
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lovage
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Ginger
  • Valerian
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Meadowsweet

Fruit Plants You Can Grow in Shade

If you’re looking for a fruit plant that can tolerate some shade, there are a few options to consider.

One option is the fig tree. Fig trees can grow in partial shade, and they produce delicious fruits that can be used in a variety of recipes. Another option is the citrus tree. Citrus trees need full sun to produce fruit, but they can tolerate some shade.

Below are some other fruit trees and crops you can grow in partial shade.

  • Blackcurrant
  • Gooseberries
  • Hardy kiwi
  • Lingonberries
  • Lowbush Blueberries
  • Alpine Strawberries
  • Juneberry
  • Mulberries

Best Flowers for Shade

There are many flowers that grow in shade. Below is a list of shade-tolerant flowers — both annual and perennial plants for your garden.

  • Hydrangea
  • Bee balm
  • Violets
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Bleeding-Heart
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Forget-me-not
  • Lamb’s Ears
  • Lungwort
  • Primroses
  • Foxglove
  • Astilbe
  • Siberian Iris
  • Columbine
  • Monkshood
  • Bellflowers
  • Black Cohosh
  • Calendula
  • Begonia
  • Pansy
  • Fuchsia
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Monkey-flower
  • Snapdragon
  • Wishbone Flower
  • Nicotiana

Advantages of Growing in Shade

One benefit is that with some plants, you can move around your garden if it was planted in containers. Additionally, with less direct sun exposure, there may be fewer weeds to deal with. Moisture also stays longer.

However, there are different kinds of shade gardens to set up, depending on the plant. Below are lighting requirements a gardener must carefully consider before deciding what to grow.

Sunlight Conditions

These are the basic sunlight conditions that your garden can grow in:

1. Full Sun

This garden receives a lot of sunlight — 6 to 8 hours of direct sun per day. Plants that fall in this category grow best with 8 hours or more of sun every day.

Corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, and fruiting crops grow best in full sun gardens.

2. Light Shade

This kind of garden is screened from direct sunlight though it is open to the sky. Obstacles such as trees or a wall can screen it from getting direct sunlight.

So, you’ll want to focus on vegetables that don’t need full sun for the best effect. Examples include leafy greens, potatoes, herbs, beans, etc.

According to K-State Research and Extension, light shade gardens receive 3 to 5 hours of direct sunlight in the summer [3].

3. Part Shade / Part Sun

This type will receive 3 to 6 hours of sunlight per day, experiencing more sunlight in either the early or later parts of the day, but never both.

However, this is a trickier garden to maintain. But, you stand a very real possibility of growing some varieties of crops that tolerate partial light. Part shade vegetables include beets, carrots, arugula, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and celery.

Ultimately, your climate is going to be the final deciding factor for your choice in gardens and the kinds of crops you can grow in partial shade.

4. Full Shade

This type of garden receives less than 4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Most full-shade vegetables and herbs do well with a little sunlight during the morning hours and evenings, but not so much at midday.

See also: Plants that Grow in Water

Takeaway

For herbs and vegetables that grow in shade, always consider the amount of sunlight and how well-protected your plants are going to be.

Shade tolerant crops may also require less water. 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 shade for smaller plants.

If you’re dedicated to the idea of a shady garden at home where direct sunlight is difficult to attain, these are some plants to consider.

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

2 comments

  • Thank you, Sasha. This explains why some things were thriving in our partial shade garden bed (like beets). The others (like bush beans) I have already planted in pots on our sunnier deck. This year I’m trying potatoes and carrots in both places, so we’ll see how it goes. The potato plants in the shady garden are already 3x the size of those in the sunny deck pots.
    As for growing veggies and herbs here in Alberta, Canada, I’m trying to make the very most of our little suburban backyard which includes some big trees. Your article is helpful, and I will keep trying!
    Thanks again.

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