Dre Campbell Farm
61 Vegetables and Herbs That Grow in Shade

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61 Vegetables and Herbs That Grow in Shade

If you’re thinking of growing a garden but don’t have a sunny spot, there are many shade loving herbs and vegetables you can try.

All plants need light to grow [1]; however, some crops like leafy greens and root vegetables can thrive in partially shaded areas.

Below is a list of edible plants that you can grow in shade.

Shade Tolerant Vegetables

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Green onions (part shade)
  • Scallion
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Rutabagas (Swede)
  • Kohlrabi

Any of these veggies will survive and thrive in shaded areas. 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 zeal 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

  • Angelica
  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Dill
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Costmary
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Garden cress
  • Germander
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon balm
  • Lovage
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet Flag
  • Sweet woodruff
  • Valerian
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Golden Oregano
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Thyme
  • Anise
  • Meadowsweet
  • 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.

However, 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.

Leafy Greens

  • Arugula
  • Pak Choy / Bok choy
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Collards
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Kang kong
  • Mustard greens
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Mesclun
  • Mizuna
  • Tatsoi
  • Watercress

These are leafy greens that grow well in part sun.

The best thing you can do for partial shade crops is to keep them in pots. That way, 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 or roots. Root veggies mostly rely on nutrients found in the soil and therefore, don’t need much sunlight.

Additionally, try to avoid fruiting crops [2], such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These thrive best in gardens that receive eight or more hours of sunlight every day.

Advantages of Growing in Little Shade

  • You can move around your garden if it was planted in containers.
  • Low maintenance and fewer weeds to deal with.
  • Moisture stays longer.
  • 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 different kinds of vegetable shading gardens possible to set up, depending on the desired crop. These are the factors any gardener must carefully consider before deciding what kinds of edible plants 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 how much sunlight you get where you are as opposed to how much shade you have.

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.

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 this category.

2. Lightly Shaded

This kind of garden is screened from direct sunlight though it is open to the sky, 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 Shaded

This type, as opposed to a full-sun garden, 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.

This is a trickier garden to maintain. However, you stand a very real possibility of growing some varieties of fruits and vegetables that tolerate partial light. For example, tomatoes and peppers can thrive here, though they do best in full sun.

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.

4. Full Shade

Just as the name sounds, it’s a garden where there is no sunlight or reflected light.

The only problem is that even these crops need some light to grow. So if you have full shade, you might struggle to grow anything with vigor.

Takeaway

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

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. 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 far-fetched.

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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