A Comprehensive Guide to Growing Vegetables in Shade

A Comprehensive Guide to Growing Vegetables in Shade

Last Updated On: June 27, 2022

Have you ever wanted to cultivate plants but only have space where there isn’t much light? You should consider growing different varieties of vegetables in shade where they can thrive and grow easily. Furthermore, some crops, including leafy greens, struggle in hot weather conditions and will grow more vigorously in the shade. As a matter of fact, a little shade might actually be beneficial to some vegetable crops.

When it comes to increasing your fresh produce, shaded sections of the garden are sometimes underestimated. However, after you’ve figured out which veggies grow best in these darker environments, you may turn these underutilized spaces into functional vegetable garden space. Growing vegetables in the shade is not difficult, and shade-tolerant crops are among the easiest vegetables to cultivate at home.

What Is Partial Shade

There is a lot to know about plant care in order to grow vegetables in shade effectively. Crops require a variety of ingredients, including soil, water, nutrients, and—possibly the most misunderstood of all—light. It is confusing to understand different light exposure, but with a little guidance, you’ll be able to better find the correct amounts of light to provide your plants.

All plants have their own specific conditions that they need for optimal growth. By studying our plants’ needs, and determining the light patterns they need, we can better provide care for our garden.

If you want to get the most amount of produce from your gardening your goal is to replicate these conditions. Any region that receives four to six hours of direct sunlight each day or that is shaded for at least half the day is commonly referred to as partial shade. Many blooming plants and vegetables that can tolerate darkness thrive in partial shade and will produce more flowers with a little sunlight.

A window sill that receives good lighting for a few hours indoors but remains shaded for the rest of the day, much like an east-facing window, can provide this form of partial shade as well. You can also find partial shade underneath or near trees. Milder morning sun and little afternoon heat are other examples of partial shade. Plants that require partial shade should be grown in the climates mentioned above.

The best way to gauge this is to simply watch your garden and record how many hours of sun it gets. Look for areas that remain shady for at least a couple of hours per day. These are your partially shaded areas, most gardens tend to have a lot of this.

Benefits of Partial Shade

While most gardeners look for lots of sun, there are several benefits to growing in partial shade. For starters, you have the chance to grow a wide range of shade-tolerant plants. There are lots of plants where bright light can actually be harmful to them, so having some shade in your garden opens the doors to a wider variety of plants.

Your plants and soil will also experience less heat overall with less direct light exposure. As a result, there is a much less likelihood of water evaporating under the intense summer sun. Your vegetables are more likely to maintain their vibrant appearance with enhanced water retention over the long, hot months. Additionally, the more water your plants can conserve, the less often you’ll need to water them.

Once your shade garden is established, you’ll probably discover that it requires considerably less upkeep than a typical garden. Many shade tolerant plants are very easy to grow and care for.

Weeds also develop less quickly in areas with less direct sun exposure, making them much simpler to control and get rid of.

Best Varieties To Grow

Numerous vegetables can thrive in partial shade, diffused light, or with just 3-6 hours of direct sunlight every day. These include but are not limited to the following:

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cool-season plant with a quick growth rate that does well in partial shade. Broccoli is cultivated for its nutritious and delicious flower buds. Broccoli plants will blossom more slowly in partial shade and can be used in salads, stews, and stir-fries, or even eaten raw.

There are a number of different broccoli varieties, and they can have different growth patterns, growth rates, and harvest sizes. Make sure to learn a bit about your variety so you can be sure to provide them proper space to grow. Our pick is the waltham 29 variety, which is fast and easy to grow.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce is a cold season vegetable that will wither or go to seed in hotter temperatures. If you grow lettuce in partial shade, the roots will stay cooler, and you may extend the harvest season as the weather warms up.

Late in the summer, plant autumn lettuce under the shade of trees, and it will grow as the temperature turns cooler. Any kind of lettuce can be harvested young or allowed to grow to maturity.

Once lettuce bolts, or begins to seed, it ruins the flavor of the plant. This is often brought on by heat, and growing in partial shade can help slow this process down.

3. Carrots

Roots of carrots are farmed primarily for their sweetness and adaptability to different weather conditions. Carrots come in a wide range with varying colors, shapes, and maturation periods. They can be grown in partial shade easily, and tend to thrive in the cooler temperatures it provides. Carrots will produce a fine, delicious harvest while growing smaller and maturing slowly in partial shade.

4. Cabbage

The cool-season crop known as cabbage grows into tight-wrapping, rounded crowns of foliage. Partial shade is ideal for growing cabbage, especially as the weather becomes warmer. Like lettuce, you want to keep cabbage in a cooler location to prevent bolting and increase your harvest time.

You can eat raw or cooked cabbage in soups, salads, and stir-fries, and it’s packed with nutrients. This versatility makes it a great plant for any food lover to grow.

Supplementing Indoor Garden Light

When growing indoors, we have the additional options of using grow lights to supplement natural light. Grow lights can turn even a dark area into a suitable spot for plants, or help supplement an existing sunny spot.

Generally, partial shade will be equivalent to about 6-8 hours of continuous grow light use. You can reduce this a bit if the location gets natural light. Grow lights however are typically less intense than natural light, so plan to run them for a few extra hours to hit your light goals.

Another concern for indoor gardens is the reduced intensity of light during the winter. In some places, this can amount to an over 90% reduction in light intensity as compared to winter.

Make sure your plants are getting enough light during the winter by either supplementing them with a grow light, or moving them to a sunnier location. It’s not uncommon for a full-sun spot to be more like partial shade in the dead of winter.

Growing Vegetables In Shade

Growing vegetables in shade may seem difficult at first, but is actually quite easy. The key is picking the right plants, and understanding their care needs. Done correctly, and you’ll be able to harvest and enjoy delicious vegetables year round.


What is Partial Shade?

Partial shade is an area of your garden that gets some sun, but also gets shade. A spot that’s sunny for about 4-6 hours in the morning, but then gets afternoon shade, is a good example. Indoors, windows that face west or east are usually considered partial shade as well.

Can you grow vegetables in the shade?

Yes, there are some vegetables that grow in the shade. Generally, you’re looking for more cool weather variety crops and others that grow best without much heat and light.

What vegetables cannot grow in the shade?

Tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, and zucchinis are heat-loving plants that cannot thrive in partial shade. They can only produce harvestable vegetables during hot, sunny days and need both heat and sun to thrive.

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