Whether your garden sits under a canopy of trees, or is blocked by homes in your neighborhood, you can still grow plenty of vegetables and herbs at home! There are quite a few options to choose from, and here we will go over 50 of the best vegetables & herbs that grow in shade!
Don’t have a sun drenched, south-facing garden? Fret not!
You’ll want to plan which items to plant after assessing the type of shade your garden space will receive.
There will be considerations that need to be made whether you have full shade, partial shade, or dappled shade.
Full shade is where your garden will be covered by shade all day and receive no direct sunlight.
Partial shade is where your garden will only receive direct sunlight for a portion of the day, typically no more than 4-5 hours of sun a day. You would notice your garden gets good light during a particular time of day, and not others.
For example, you may see your patch in full sun in the morning, but not in the afternoon, or late afternoon.
Dappled shade is where your garden would receive direct sunlight sometimes, only through trees and their leaves when they move.
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Best Vegetables to Grow in A Shaded Garden
Leafy vegetables, such as chard, spinach and salad greens, are the most tolerant vegetables. Leafy greens, like lettuce, are typically cool weather plants, so aim to grow them toward the end of summer, or in your fall garden.
Since they are so delicate, too much sun can burn and wilt them, so a shaded garden is optimal for these types of greens. Lettuces will grow in part shade and they like cooler temps.
Loose-leaf varieties like Black Seeded Simpson, Oak Leaf, or Green Ice. Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Watercress and Mustard Greens are also great options as they do well in shade.
Sprouts and Microgreens
Microgreens from Alfalfa, Kohlrabi, Pea, Radish and Swiss Chard are wonderful to experiment with too! Since they are ‘microgreens‘ and their germination rate is rather fast, you can quickly grow these! While small in size, their nutritional value is enormous!
Sprouts and microgreens can also easily be grown indoors.
Small Root Vegetables
Root veggies, like carrots, parsnip, beets and radish will be successful in shaded gardens. You will find more success in growing root vegetables in shade if your temperatures get hot.
Carrots, Rhubarb, Radishes, Turnips and others will do well in hotter climates, even with partial shade. These also prefer cooler temps and will do well during any time other than the height of summer.
Try carrot varieties such as Koruda, Scarlet Nantes and Napa carrots.
White Hailstone Radish is a popular choice and my favorites are Cherry Belle and Sparkler Radish.
Get fun with potatoes too since there are so many options to choose from. You can even make it a guess game for your kids to see what color pops out of the soil first! Try colorful options like All-Blue potatoes, Red Cloud or Yukon Gold!
I actually prefer growing herbs in partial or dappled shade as I find the high heat of summer and direct sunlight is too much for them. I keep them in my screened-in porch in the spring and summer, sometimes into the fall depending how quickly the weather cools.
Then, I move them inside the house to a sun drenched window in the winter. Obviously they are in planters, so it’s easy to move them into optimal growing conditions.
Mint is a good herb to grow in shade, as are Chives, Basil, Tarragon and Thyme.
Vegetables to Avoid
Things like tomatoes and any type of pepper that essentially REQUIRE 6+ hours of full sun will be a waste of your time. Vegetables that grow like vines should be avoided too, such as cucumbers and different squash varieties.
Tips for Growing Herbs and Vegetables in Shade
Consider container gardening or vertical gardening. There are so many options that are available that will allow you to utilize any sun-friendly space to grow your garden. Grow bags, raised garden beds, and garden containers are all great options.
If planting in a shaded area, directly in the ground, try not to over water. While tempting, the soil isn’t getting dried out from the sun as a full-sun garden would so you don’t need to water as often.
Start sowing seeds indoors rather than directly into the ground when you get started. Your best bet is to provide them with a grow light and preferably a heat mat. This way, they start strong and get everything they need in their most tender state.
Avoid planting directly under a tree. You would be competing with the tree for nutrients and water, as well as space.
List of Vegetables & Herbs to Grow in Partial/Low Shade
- Brussels sprouts
- Chinese cabbage
- New Zealand spinach
- Sorrel (spinach dock)
- Green Dream Parsley
- Flat Leaf Parsley
- Provence Blue Lavender
- Lemon Balm
- Genovese Basil
- Sweet Basil
- Calypso Cilantro
- Sweet Marjoram
- Sweet Leaf Stevia
- French Tarragon
- Tuscan Blue Rosemary
- Rocket Arugula
- Italian Large Leaf Basil
- Cinnamon Basil
- Dark Opal Basil
- Bulls Blood Beets
- Detroit Dark Red Beets
- Early Wonder Beets
- Calabrese Broccoli
- Garlic Chives
- Upland Cress
- Curled Cress
- Red Russian Kale
- Purple Vienna Kohlrabi
- Mesclun Mix Lettuce
- Oakleaf Lettuce
- Red Romaine Lettuce
- Mizuna Mustard
- Tatsoi Mustard
- Red Arrow Radish
- Ruby Red Swiss Chard