Shade Tolerant Vegetables for the Garden

From green beans to root veggies, you've got options

cooking greens

The Spruce / K. Dave

Don't give up on vegetable gardening just because your yard is not very sunny. All plants need some sun to grow well but there are a few vegetables that will tolerate and even appreciate partial shade. This is especially true during the hottest days of the growing season when afternoon shade is a relief after hours of intense morning sun. You can even grow some vegetables in areas near trees that are in dappled shade for most of the day.

Vegetables that grow in shade are predominately leafy vegetables and root crops, so they make the best choices. Vegetables that produce fruits, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant, need all the sun they can get.

If you are going to try growing vegetables in shade, remember that they still need plenty of water––and water and shade are perfect conditions for snails and slugs. You'll need to be especially diligent in scouting for these slimy creatures or they will wipe out your harvest.

  • 01 of 05

    Salad Greens


    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Leafy salad greens are staples in the spring garden. They like the cool, dewy days early in the season and you can succession plant most of them for a long harvest period. It gets a little tricky to keep them growing in the hottest part of the summer. They are slow to germinate in hot, dry weather and quick to bolt to seed when they do grow. You can wait until the temperatures cool again in the fall or you can take advantage of a shady spot in the garden––even behind taller corn or tomato plants––and keep them going all summer. They will still need extra water in hot weather.

    Good choices include arugula, lettuce, sorrel, and spinach, which need three to four hours of sun per day.

  • 02 of 05

    Cooking Greens

    Kale Plant

    The Spruce / Marie iannotti

    Leafy vegetables grown for cooking, rather than salads and fresh eating, will actually grow slower and more tender in afternoon shade. They probably won't get as large as their full-sun counterparts, but the smaller baby leaves require less cooking and are often sweeter.

    Try Asian greens (pak choi or mizuna), chard, kale, and mustard greens, all of which need three to four hours of sun each day.

    Even cabbage and broccoli will grow in a half-day of sun. They prefer cooler weather but will take a little longer to head.

  • 03 of 05

    Root Vegetables

    harvested carrots

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Most root vegetables can get by on four to five hours of sunshine per day, however, they will grow more slowly and take longer to reach full size. You can harvest some of them, like carrots and potatoes, while they are still small and sweet. You can also harvest beet and turnip greens while you're waiting for their bulbs to fill out. You'll want your radishes to grow fast so they don't become woody or overly hot, but partial shade will prevent them from bolting to seed.

    Root vegetables for partial shade include beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, wasabi, and turnips.

  • 04 of 05


    mint plant

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Many culinary herbs are fast growers. Annual herbs will bolt to seed quicker than lettuce in good growing conditions. They may get a little leggier when grown in partial shade, but since you're growing them for their leaves, it doesn't really matter.

    These herbs will do fine with only about three hours of sun per day: chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, and parsley.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Peas and Beans

    green beans

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Peas and green beans like cooler temperatures. They need some sun (about four to five hours per day) to produce flowers and pods, but they tend to fade out as the temperature warms. Planting them in a cool shady spot will lengthen your growing season.

    Bush beans are a better choice for shade than pole beans. Pole varieties start producing beans later in the season and they need sunshine to grow the vines that will eventually hold the beans. Bush beans are quick growers and, like peas, appreciate a little cooling off in the afternoon.