This post was most recently updated on April 13th, 2020
If your garden space is shadier than you want it to be, you don’t need to give up on having a vegetable garden. There are many vegetables and herbs that can grow in partial shade – and even thrive in it!
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If you are growing a garden in your backyard that is shady and need plants that will do well, we have you covered.
Partial shade means an area that is exposed to 3 to 6 hours of sun per day.
If you are new to gardening, or want some support and knowledge getting a garden started, let me help you.
Tips For Growing Vegetables And Herbs In The Shade:
Grow vegetables and herbs that are well-adapted to the shade. Do not attempt to grow crops in the shade that actually require full sun or you will be sadly let down.
Begin the crops for a shade garden indoors or in a tunnel house in order to speed up the harvest time. That way germination of the seeds and early seedling growth can start under optimal conditions before they are planted in the shade.
Expect your crops to mature more slowly when they are grown in the shade and lower your expectations when it comes to yield and size.
Thin out high branches and prune low tree branches away in surrounding trees to allow more sunlight into your garden which will benefit the whole garden.
Remember to provide your shade plants with a high-quality soil that drains well, and also water your plants on a regular basis. Just because they love shade doesn’t mean your plants don’t need water.
Here are some of the best vegetables and herbs that you can grow in the shade.
Top Vegetables That Grow In The Shade
1. Lettuce and Salad Greens
Lettuce and salad greens (such as spinach, sorrel, endive, and arugula) grow well in cooler weather and do like some shade.
They like to have 3 to 4 hours worth of sun per day. In the bright sun, they have a tendency to bolt to seed and become bitter, so they definitely grow better in the shade as long as they get enough sunlight every day. Make sure to water them well.
2. Asian Greens
Asian greens such as mizuna and pak choi grow very well in only about 4 hours of sun a day. Their baby leaves can provide your dishes with an interesting flavor and aroma.
3. Leafy greens
Leafy greens such as Swiss chard, mustard greens, kale, and collards do well in 3 to 4 hours of sun. They will grow slower but be sweeter and more tender on smaller plants.
4. Root Vegetables
Root vegetables such as turnips, rutabaga, radishes, potatoes, carrots, and beets grow well in partial shade. They need about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight per day.
These vegetables can either be grown as a fully mature crop or harvested as “baby” vegetables if you like them more tender.
Partial shade will help to prevent them from bolting too fast, but it will take longer for them to reach their full maturity and size in 4 to 5 hours of sun every day.
Radishes especially like to have some shade during the summer so that they don’t bolt or become too woody.
It is important to water root vegetables consistently to avoid woodiness. You can also harvest and eat the delicious greens of radishes, turnip, and beets even when the root of the plant is still small.
5. Peas and Beans
When peas and beans that are grown in a shaded area it helps to lengthen their growing season.
These vegetables love cooler temperatures. They do well in around 4 to 5 hours of sun per day. Beans and peas should be picked on a regular basis in order to encourage their continued growth.
6. Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts
These brassica vegetables flower later and grow tighter heads in partial sun. They are cool weather plants that do well in 4 to 6 hours of sun per day.
Broccoli is a shade loving vegetable that takes about 2 1/2 months to mature and be ready to harvest and cook. It thrives in well-drained soil, that is a good combination of sand and clay loam.
The pH of the soil should range from 5.9 to 6.5 to facilitate good growth. Broccoli just needs a couple of hours of sun per day.
It only takes about 110 days to raise cauliflower in the shade. Make sure it has well-drained soil and plenty of well rotted compost.
9. Onions and Leeks
Onions and leeks do quite well in moist, cool environments. They need about 4 hours of sun per day and will give you a good crop at the end of the season.
Garlic is actually part of the onion family and also can be grown in the shade. It needs a few hours of sun per day and rich soil. It provides both culinary and medicinal properties. You can eat garlic greens along with using its bulbs.
Top Herbs That Grow In The Shade
Herbs also make excellent additions to a shade vegetable garden. Herbs do grow more densely and quicker with more sun.
However, they usually can still do quite well in about 3 to 4 hours of sun a day. Many of the herbs such as mint are very vigorous growers, so you might want to grow them in a pot to contain them.
There are over 25 varieties of mint that can be grown. Mint is an incredible cleanser antioxidant. It can be used as an herbal treatment as well as enjoyed as a salad topping, in soups, to make mint tea, or as a flavoring in a wide variety of dishes. It is a shade-friendly plant that does not require a lot of maintenance.
Thyme is one of the most versatile types of herbs. You can extract the oil from a thyme plant for medicinal purposes and, of course, thyme has well-known culinary uses as well. The shrub should be kept well-drained and it needs to have 4 to 5 hours of sun per day.
3. Other Shade Tolerant Herbs
Some of the other herbs that can do well in the shade include parsley, oregano, cilantro/coriander, chives, and chervil, among many others.
As you can see, there are plenty of vegetables and herbs that you can grow in a shaded garden. Just make sure your area gets at least 3 to 4 hours of sun per day, and provide your plants with the sunlight, soil, and water they need in order to thrive.
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