Gardening is all about finding the right balance of sun, water, and soil. Very few plants thrive in shade, and vegetables are even more particular. But there are plenty of those that are shade-tolerant.
This means they can still grow viable crops in the shade, even if they prefer more sunlight. Partial shade is usually best even for shade-tolerant vegetables.
Partial shade means they still get light equal to between three and six hours of full sunlight each day.
But this can mean they have shade for one part of the day or dappled or filtered shade throughout. Your garden could get its light through the leaves of a large tree or spend half the day in the shade.
Either way, you can still grow vegetables to your heart’s content.
28 Garden Vegetables That Tolerate Shade
Even a shady garden space can be home to plenty of vegetable crops.
Read on to find which vegetables are perfect for growing in a little shade.
The standard salad green, lettuce is a leafy vegetable that can stand partial shade.
In fact, lettuce leaves are prone to wilting during hot and sunny weather. Growing your lettuce in a partially shady area during the peak of summer can help reduce wilting.
Lettuce can be grown in the spring or late summer. If you’re planting later in the season, some shade can actually help cool the soil and promote better germination.
2. Bok Choy
Bok choy originates from China and blooms in the summer. However, like lettuce, it can tolerate some shade and even benefits from it at certain points in the year.
If you’re growing a spring crop, partial shade is best to regulate the change in temperatures.
Some plants “bolt,” or put out vertical shoots before the roots below are ready for harvest. This can happen due to sudden fluctuations in temperature, which is common in the spring.
Grow your bok choy in the shade when you first start planting to help reduce the chance of bolting.
Cabbage is a common garden vegetable, and it can grow with only partial sunlight. But this does make it take longer to mature.
It also may not grow heads as tight as cabbage grown in full sunlight. But a shady garden limits your growing options for other vegetables.
So somewhat looser cabbages may be better than no vegetables at all.
4. Mustard Greens
These greens are a staple of southern cooking. Growing them in your garden can be a real treat for your kitchen.
Mustard greens only need three to four hours of direct sunlight a day. They might grow slower than normal, but that’s not always bad.
You can harvest mustard greens before they’re mature for sweet and tender “baby greens.”
It’s clear that a shady garden will have no shortage of leafy vegetables it can provide. Spinach is a great green to grow in a garden that has less sunlight than most.
It does grow best in full sunlight, but it can get by with somewhere between four and six hours each day.
6. Swiss Chard
If you want to add a pop of color to your garden, grow some Swiss chard in your garden.
Chard provides flavor as well as color to both your kitchen and your garden. It grows in a range of reddish shades, and you can eat both the stem and the leaves.
Even better, chard is another leafy green that tolerates shade.
Rounding out your choices of leafy green vegetables is arugula.
This vegetable is great for salads and it’s among the most shade-tolerant of vegetables. It can do very well with only three to four hours of full sun a day.
It’s also prone to bolting in warm weather, so growing in shade will help you ensure a mature crop.
Asparagus is a vegetable that definitely thrives in full sun. But if your garden space is limited, you can grow it in a slightly shady area.
The trick is to plant it where the sunlight is filtered rather than completely blocked. Planting in the shade of a tree’s leaves is fine because some light still shines through the branches.
You don’t want to plant it next to the tree’s trunk or beside a group of ferns. You should also remember that while you can harvest shaded asparagus, it will be a smaller yield than normal.
Broccoli is actually easier to harvest when it’s grown in partial shade.
You need to harvest brassica vegetables like broccoli just before they flower. This can be tricky to time correctly since the window for harvest is small.
Partial shade tends to slow the growth rate of most tolerant vegetables. This is great for broccoli because it means you have more time to catch them at the right time for harvesting.
Another brassica vegetable like broccoli is cauliflower. They have similar needs in the garden, and both do well with some shade.
A good idea is to start your cauliflower seeds in a container and place them in full sun. Then you can transplant the sprouts to a shadier area when they’re growing strong from the sunlight.
Good celery is crispy and tender, but it can get chewy without the right garden conditions. Celery’s crispiness requires a lot of water. Too much direct sunlight can dry out the soil around your celery plants.
By planting in a shady area, your celery’s soil will stay moist for longer. The shade also slows the celery’s growth. Like with certain greens, slower growth means the celery stays tender for longer.
Then, when you harvest, you’ll have crisp, refreshing celery stalks.
Not only is kale shade tolerant, but it’s also cold tolerant. You can harvest it in the fall when many other crops are fading.
While some plants do better with shade at specific times of day, kale isn’t picky. You can grow it in areas that are somewhat shaded in the morning or the afternoon.
As long as it gets equal to about three to four hours of full sun a day, your kale will thrive.
13. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts do very well with a little bit of shade. While they do grow in the spring and summer, they’re not big fans of the heat.
Brussels sprouts do best when they get their sunlight in the morning. In the afternoon, when the day is at its warmest, some partial shade benefits them better.
Legumes like peas are great for shady gardens. Whereas other vegetables offer lower yields in the shade, the longer growing period that shade provides means a larger pea harvest.
You have to pick peas on a regular basis so they produce throughout the entire season. When that growing season is longer thanks to a shadier garden, you can pick even more peas.
They do still need between four and six hours of direct sun to grow strong. But they also prefer cooler temperatures, so shade can be especially beneficial in warmer climates.
Root vegetables, like beets, do very well in the shade.
Three to four hours of direct sunlight a day is all they need. Just make sure their shade the rest of the day is light or dappled.
Even if you harvest smaller beets due to the smaller amount of sunlight, the green tops will be just as delicious. And even smaller beets can be worthwhile as they tend to be more tender and flavorful.
Another staple of your average vegetable garden, carrots can be grown in both fall and summer.
During fall and winter, carrots really need full sun. However, if you plan to harvest them in the summer, that’s when they’re a good shade vegetable.
Carrots need at least six hours of sun a day, but in the summer heat it can get too hot. Having full morning sun and afternoon shade during the summer will help your carrots grow better.
Leeks like things cool and a little damp. That’s why they’re perfect for shady gardens.
The shade reduces moisture loss from evaporation. Also, it lowers the temperature a little, which is great in the summer.
Provide your leeks with at least four hours of sun a day; the rest of the time they can enjoy some partial shade.
Parsnips can be a little tricky because of their long growing season.
You also have to harvest them late in the fall season or even in early winter. The best time is just before the first frost of the year.
They also love sunlight, but a little bit of shade won’t hurt them. It could also help keep moisture in their soil for longer.
Try to plant them where they’ll get the most sun in your shady garden. This could be where it’s only shady for part of the day or where there’s dappled shade.
Radishes are one of the absolute best vegetables for a shady garden.
In the summer, shade can help radishes from bolting, which will add a bitter taste. It can also keep the soil cool and moist which radishes prefer.
And like beets and other root vegetables, you can harvest their greens as well as their roots.
So even if partial shade gives you smaller roots, you’ll still have the greens to supplement your harvest.
Turnips are right there with radishes for how great they are for shady gardens. Turnips are root vegetables like radishes, so they like the cool, damp soil that the shade provides.
Less sunlight does mean you’ll likely have a smaller harvest. But your turnips will be more tender, and you can always harvest their green tops as well.
It’s important to be careful when choosing the location for rhubarb in your garden. It’s a perennial plant, meaning it will return and produce every year.
It doesn’t have the best response to relocation, either. So, you want to keep it where it will be happy for a long time.
Luckily for shaded gardens, rhubarb is fine with a little bit of shade. It does need more sunlight than other vegetables, at least six hours, but it doesn’t need it all day.
If you want a little more color from your shady vegetables, rhubarb is the way to go.
Scallions, or green onions, do double duty as a small garden and shady garden vegetable.
Their thin stalks don’t take up much room, which is great for small gardens or container growing. They also just need six hours of full sun a day.
They grow very quickly in full sunlight, but they can get by with just six hours a day. You can extend your harvest period by growing one crop in full sunlight and another in partial shade.
Many herbs do well in partial shade, mint included. In fact, shade can actually help tame mint’s wild will to grow all over the place!
Mint can easily take over a garden with aggressively growing runners; even its roots are widespread.
To keep your mint plant in check, grow it in an area with partial shade. This will slow its rate of growth, making it easier to manage.
Chives can also grow well in partial shade. You will get a denser crop with more sunlight, but it’s not necessary for decent growth.
Just four hours of sunlight a day should give you enough chives for a worthwhile harvest.
Italian or Greek oregano is one of the most common varieties people enjoy.
Like other herbs, it will grow to its fullest in direct sunlight. But it can produce foliage in as little as four to six hours a day.
There’s another variety of oregano that does even better in the shade than most. This is golden oregano, named for its gorgeous yellow foliage.
These yellow leaves need more protection from the sun than Greek oregano. In particularly hot climates, the sun can “fry” the delicate leaves of golden oregano.
As a bonus, its bright color makes it stand out from shady areas.
Another herb that needs some sun protection is parsley. Again, full sunlight for at least hours a day will make parsley grow faster and net you a bigger crop.
But parsley does need some shade, especially in the summer months. Like golden oregano, parsley leaves are susceptible to frying or wilting in hot weather.
Protect your parsley leaves by growing them in a spot that gets some shade during the hottest part of the day.
Basil is so tolerant of shade that it works well as a window plant. It only needs about six hours of direct sun a day to produce flavorful foliage.
It can also benefit from the shade the same way parsley and oregano can. Too much direct sunlight could fry your basil leaves.
No vegetable garden would be complete without potatoes. These root vegetables thrive in cool, damp environments. This makes them great for gardens with some shade.
Partial shade will allow the potatoes’ soil to stay cool and slow evaporation. They can’t grow in full shade, but just need about six hours of sun each day.
Just because your garden is on the shady side doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your love of growing vegetables!
There are plenty of vegetables that are shade tolerant and only need about six hours of sun a day. Some need even less and may do better in partial shade, especially in the heat.
Shade can protect your vegetables from wilting or bolting, and it keeps the soil cool and moist.
Embrace your shady garden space and use it to plant these delicious vegetables.