Shady garden? Not a problem. Not only can plenty of vegetables grow in shady areas, many varieties can actually thrive in them! For example, root vegetables and leafy vegetables are particularly resilient to low-light conditions and can benefit from being planted in partially shaded areas, especially in hot climates. We’ve put together a list of 32 vegetables that grow in the shade, so you can grow food all year long no matter how many tall trees or buildings are obstructing your garden.
Full Sun, Partial Shade, and Full Shade
Before we get started, let’s take a moment to talk about the three primary types of lighting conditions: full sun, partial shade, and full shade. Lots of vegetables can grow in partial shade, but they won’t grow in full shade. If you have an area in your garden that is fully shaded – it gets less than two hours of direct or partial sunlight per day – you’re not going to have any luck growing vegetables there. All of the vegetables on this list fall under the “partial shade” category and require some amount of sunlight throughout the day – at least two to four hours per day.
There are two main varieties that grow well in partial shade: root vegetables and leafy vegetables. Surprisingly, leafy vegetables actually hold up better in low-light conditions than root vegetables, which need at least four to six hours of sunlight a day for optimal growth.
Vegetables that do not grow in partial shade are actually the fruits we tend to think of as vegetables, such as eggplants, avocados, peppers, tomatoes, squashes, and cucumbers.
Tips and Tricks for Growing in Partial Shade
Vegetables growing in a shady area don’t need to be watered as often since less moisture is evaporated. In fact, moisture can accumulate quickly in a shady area and before you know it, your crops will be swimming in mud if you water them too frequently. Only water your shaded vegetables when the soil is dry to the touch.
Since your vegetables won’t be getting lots of sunlight, it’s especially important to use high quality soil. Add nutrient rich compost to your soil to ensure your plants aren’t lacking any vital vitamins or minerals, and be sure to test the pH so you know if the soil’s too acidic or alkaline. If for some reason you can’t plant your vegetables in the ground – e.g., the soil is too rocky or full of tree roots – consider using a raised bed or planters.
Be on the lookout for slugs and snails, which are particularly fond of shady, moist areas. Keeping your garden free of debris will make it a less attractive breeding ground for slugs. You can also sprinkle crumbled eggshells around your plants to keep slugs and snails away. They don’t crawling over them, plus you get the added benefit of the shells mineralizing your soil. If you’re using a raised bed or planters, fastening a band of copper around the rim deters slugs from crawling over it. No one’s exactly sure why slugs don’t like to cross copper barriers, though many myths abound… Whether it’s electric shock, toxicity, or simply that they don’t like the texture, the copper band method is one many gardeners swear by.
Garden Vegetables That Can Grow in Partial Shade
Note: Some of the vegetables on this list require more sunlight than others. Be sure to research the optimal amount of sunlight for each specific vegetable you choose. If one of your vegetables looks like it isn’t doing well, move it to a sunnier area in your garden.
- Bok Choi
- Brussels Sprouts
- Chinese Cabbage
- Mustard Greens
- Pole beans
- Swiss Chard