Shade Loving Vegetables: 15 Best Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs for You

Imagine a garden where you can grow delicious veggies, herbs, and even some surprising fruits, all while making the most of those partially shaded spots in your garden. In this article, we’ll explore shade loving vegetables, offer growing tips, and even share a partial shade garden plan for beginners.

But wait, it’s not just about what to grow; we’ll also tell you what NOT to plant in the shade. After all, not every plant is a fan of the shadows. So, get ready to discover the secrets of a vibrant, partial shade garden.

How Much Sun Does a Vegetable Garden Need?

Ever wondered what is shade loving vegetables? Well, let me spill the beans, or should I say, the greens! When we talk about “shade loving vegetables,” we’re referring to those that thrive in less sunlight.

Think of them as the introverts of the garden world; they prefer partial shade or even full shade to bask in. These low-light superheroes include leafy wonders like spinach and kale, which are practically pros at soaking up subtle rays.

Then there’s the resilient lettuce and arugula, always ready to embrace the cooler, shadier spots. They’ll make your garden a lush, green paradise, even in the shadiest corners!

Shade loving vegetables
Shade loving vegetables and herbs: carrots, tomatoes, chives, and more!

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How to Evaluate the Lighting Conditions in Your Garden

Evaluating how much sun your garden gets is a crucial step in cultivating shade loving vegetables, fruits, and herbs in a partially shaded or partially sunny garden.

To determine the ideal spots for your plants, you’ll need to understand the terms for light conditions.

  1. Full Sun
    When we say full sun, it basically means that the plant gets a solid 6 or more hours of direct sunlight every day. “Full sun” doesn’t mean non-stop sunshine all day long. It can have breaks! Just because a plant gets direct morning sun for a few hours and then more direct sun later in the day, it still counts as “full sun” as long as it adds up to six or more hours of direct sun in total.
  2. Part or Partial Sun or Shade: When we say part or partial sun or shade, it means the plant gets around 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. There’s no hard and fast rule, but if it’s closer to 6 hours, you can call it part sun. On the other hand, if it’s closer to 4 hours, you can consider it part shade.
  3. Full Shade or Shade: When it comes to plants’ sunlight preferences, full shade or shade means they get less than 4 hours of direct sun daily. Dappled sun or dappled shade means that some light manages to peek through a tree canopy or similar overhead blockage. Now, dense shade is when things get super dark and most plants struggle to survive there.

Now you understand the term, let’s start to consider how many hours of light your garden receives per day. You can calculate this by observing the sun’s path throughout the day. A helpful tool for this is the SunCalc website, which provides sun mapping information. Simply enter your location and the date, and it will show you the sun’s movement throughout the day.

List of Shade loving Vegetables and Herbs

Let’s categorize these shade loving vegetables and herbs and shed some light on their growing requirements. Or you can visit our top pick of the best vegetables, herbs and fruits (yes, fruits) for your indoor garden here!

1. Leafy Greens:

Shade loving vegetables

Leafy greens are the Vegetables of the shade garden. Varieties like spinach, kale, and lettuce revel in partial shade. They appreciate a break from the scorching sun and will grow beautifully with just a few hours of sunlight each day. Plant them in well-drained soil and keep them well-watered.

2. Brassicas:

Shade loving vegetables

Broccoli and cauliflower, both members of the brassica family, are surprisingly shade-tolerant. They’ll produce compact, flavorful heads even in partial sun conditions. Ensure they get at least 4-6 hours of light daily for the best results.

3. Root Vegetables:

Shade loving vegetables

While most root vegetables prefer full sun, there are some exceptions. Carrots, beets, and radishes can manage with a bit of shade, although they may take a bit longer to mature. Make sure the soil is loose and well-composed to help them along.

4. Beans:

Shade loving vegetables
Partial shade vegetables: Bush beans

Bush beans are more forgiving than their sun-loving pole bean cousins. They can tolerate partial shade and still yield a bountiful harvest. Just make sure they receive around 4-6 hours of light to produce those tasty pods.

5. Herbs:

Shade loving vegetables

Herbs like mint, parsley, and chives are excellent choices for shady spots. These aromatic plants will add flavor to your dishes while thriving in milder sunlight conditions. Keep them well-hydrated, and they’ll thrive.

Fruits That Grow in Shade

Yes, you heard it right—your partial shade or partial sun garden can still yield delicious fruits. Here are five shade loving champions to consider:

Peaches: These sweet and juicy delights are surprisingly shade-tolerant. Just make sure they get a few hours of sunlight, and they’ll reward you with heavenly summer treats.

Shade loving vegetables
Fruits that grow in shade: peaches

Cherries: Whether you prefer sweet or tart varieties, cherries can flourish in a garden with dappled sunlight. They’ll give you a burst of flavor in desserts, jams, or just for snacking.

Shade loving vegetables

Rhubarb: This tangy perennial thrives in the shade. Its vibrant red stalks are perfect for pies, crumbles, and even homemade jams.

Shade loving vegetables

Fig: Figs are pretty chill when it comes to sun requirements. They’re content with partial shade and will grace your garden with their unique, sweet taste.

Shade loving vegetables

Read More: 11 Different Types of Fig Trees With Pictures: Fascinating Varieties

Avocado: If you live in a milder climate, consider growing avocados in a semi-shaded area. With some patience and care, you can enjoy your own homegrown avo-toast ingredients.

Shade loving vegetables

Remember, even in the shade, these fruits need a bit of love – good soil, regular watering, and occasional pruning

Berries That Grow in Shade

So, you’ve got a garden with a bit of shade, huh? No worries! There are some berries that thrive in partial shade or partial sun. 

Blackberries: These sweet and tangy gems can handle some shade, making them perfect for the edges of your garden.

Shade loving vegetables

Gooseberries: With their tart, translucent berries, gooseberries adore dappled sunlight. They’re a unique addition to your fruit collection.

shade loving vegetables

Serviceberries: These sweet treats thrive in partial shade and produce delectable berries in early summer.

Shade loving vegetables

Huckleberries: They’re like blueberries’ wild cousins and can handle some shade, making them perfect for a more natural garden look.

Shade loving vegetables

Elderberries: These berries are perfect for jams and syrups, and they’re okay with a bit less sunlight.

Shade loving vegetables

So, don’t let that shade hold you back.

What vegetables NOT to grow in shade

When planning your partial shade and partial sun garden for shade loving vegetables, fruits, and herbs, it’s essential to know which plants won’t thrive in less sunny spots.

Vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, with their sun-soaking tendencies, are better off in sunnier areas. Yes, because these are not shade-loving vegetables.

Cucumbers, corn, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes are among the “sun lovers” that require ample sunlight for optimal growth and yield. Additionally, sunflowers, which are grown for their radiant blooms and seeds, fall into this category too.

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Can potatoes grow in shade?

Potatoes prefer full sun but can tolerate some light shade. While they may grow in partial shade, you’ll likely get smaller yields and smaller tubers compared to those grown in full sun. To maximize your potato harvest, it’s advisable to plant them in a location with at least 6–8 hours of sunlight.

Can garlic grow in shade or partial shade?

Garlic can grow in partial shade, but it thrives best in well-drained soil with full sun exposure. In partial shade, garlic may still produce bulbs, but they could be smaller. 

What vegetables are best grown in shade?

Shade loving vegetables consist of leafy veggies like spinach and kale, along with lettuce, arugula, and sure herbs like mint and parsley. These plants can thrive with as little as three to four hours of sunlight per day.

What vegetable needs the least amount of sunlight?

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce require the least amount of daylight, thriving in as low as three-four hours of each day sunlight.

Can onions grow in shade?

Onions can grow in partial shade, but they prefer full sun for optimal bulb development. In partial shade, onions may produce smaller bulbs.

Shade Crops: Partial Shade/ Partial Sun Garden Plan for Beginners

For beginner gardeners, planning a partial shade garden in your backyard can be an exciting and rewarding venture.

This traditional row layout, spanning 32′ 1″ by 30′ 1″, accommodates a variety of vegetables and herbs that thrive in partial shade, making it an ideal choice for those who may not have full sun exposure throughout the day.

The USDA Hardiness Zone will largely depend on your specific location but generally falls within zones 3 to 9. It’s designed for good soil, which is a boon for healthy plant growth.

Here’s a list of the vegetables and herbs suitable for this garden plan:

  • Artichoke (Globe): 10 plants, spaced 2′ 11″ apart in rows.
  • Basil: 32 plants, with a spacing of 7″ within rows.
  • Carrots: You can plant a generous 184 carrots, spacing them 3″ apart in rows.
  • Cilantro: 32 plants, spaced 7″ apart within rows.
  • Garlic: 24 garlic bulbs, with a spacing of 5″ in rows.
  • Gourd: 10 gourd plants, spaced 2′ 11″ apart in rows.
  • Leek: 101 leek plants, with a spacing of 7″ within rows.
  • Lettuce (crisphead): Plant 123 heads, spacing them 9″ apart in rows.
  • Lettuce (leaf): Grow 315 lettuce plants, spacing them 3″ apart in rows.
  • Onions (green): Plant 48 green onion plants, spacing them 3″ within rows.
  • Oregano: 32 oregano plants, spaced 7″ apart within rows.
  • Spinach: Grow 157 spinach plants, spacing them 7″ apart in rows.
  • Sunflowers: 64 sunflower plants, spaced 11″ apart in rows.

You’ll want to consider planting times according to your local climate and frost dates. This garden layout ensures a diverse range of vegetables and herbs to enjoy throughout the growing season, even in partial shade

Full Shade and Partial Shade Vegetables: What to Remember

To conclude, knowing your plants’ sunlight preferences is essential when planning your garden. Shade loving vegetables, fruits, and herbs thrive in partially shaded or partially sunny areas, making the most of every garden corner. However, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes prefer sunny spots to soak up the sun. When planning your garden, place the right plants in the right places for a healthy, varied harvest.