Vegetables You Can Grow in the Shade

Every gardener would like their crops to receive 10 hours of sun every day. And while you can greatly minimize the amount of shade plants will sit in with a little planning, shade is often an unavoidable factor. There's always certain corners of the garden that deal with a fair amount of light limitations: trees, houses, sheds, fences, other crops. But plants need light, right? So what plants are you supposed to stick in these certain corners?
 
Well fret not! For there are plants that happily fill this niche of sitting in the shade. One could almost imagine that these particular plants evolved under the cover of big trees and have become accustomed to receiving only momentary lapses of light, or some nonsense like that. Coincidentally, crops that do well in the shade tend to be the same ones that do well during colder times of the year when sunlight hours are few and often blocked by cloud cover.
 
As a general rule, crops grown for leaves (e.g., lettuce, chard, spinach) or crops grown for roots (e.g., carrots, turnips, parsnips) will manage in a shady environment. Whereas, crops grown for fruits (e.g., tomatoes, eggplants, cucumber) want lots of sun, at least 6 hours of full light a day.
 
Needs 2 hours of sun a day
 
Bok Choy - Bok Choy will do great with only short bursts of strong light. It pretty much gets by on reflected and ambient light.
 
Needs 3-4 hours of sun
 
Arugula - Definitely a vegetable to put in shade, because warm weather and full sun makes Arugula want to bolt.
 
Chard - Chard grown in shade tend to be smaller than chard grown in full light, but the leaves will be more tender.
 
Herbs - Chives, Cilantro, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley - while most culinary herbs like lots of sun, these don't mind shadier conditions.
 
Kale - Kale grown in shade will be slightly smaller than Kale grown in full light, but just barely.
 
Lettuce - Does well in shade. Strong light tends to make lettuce bolt. You'll have more time to harvest lettuce grown in shade than lettuce grown in full sun.
 
Mustard Greens - Especially good in shade if you are growing them for baby greens.
 
Green Onions/Scallions - These will do well in shade throughout the growing season.
 
Spinach - Like lettuce, spinach was made for the shade. It will bolt in full sun. So you get more time to harvest when it's bathed in shade.
 
4-5 hours of sun a day
 
Peas and Beans - Growing them in partial shade will slow their growing a little, but they'll be okay.
 
Roots - E.g., Parsnips, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Potatoes - These will grow in the shade, but they'll mature slower. The more light they receive, the faster they grow.
Sign Up For RGS Updates