8 Vegetables that Grow Well in Full Sun

Homegrown vegetables are fresh and fun to grow. Which ones should you consider for full sun?

Choosing the best location for your vegetables is half the battle in gardening. You should reconsider if the lack of shade leaves you thinking that you can’t have a well-rounded veggie patch. There are numerous advantages to having a large portion of your garden in direct sunlight. 

Did you know that the quickest growing vegetables require direct sunlight? They need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily, with no trees, bushes, or fences shadowing them.

Numerous vegetables thrive in hot, sunny conditions. So, before you give up on your garden design, look at this list of plants that thrive in full sun.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are grown primarily for their edible fruits, though many consider them vegetables for nutritional reasons. They are high in Vitamin C and the phytochemical lycopene.

Tomatoes love the sun and warm weather; they get their food from the soil and benefit from a full day of sunlight. They are considered heavy-feeders because they require a consistent supply of nutrient-rich composts or fertilizers. 

Regardless of size, harvest tomatoes when they are firm, bright red, and may have some yellow around the stem. Because it thrives in light and warm temperatures, this plant may struggle to develop as cooler weather approaches in the fall.

One option to encourage the remaining fruit to ripen is to pull the entire plant up, brush off the dirt, remove the leaves, and hang it upside down in a basement or garage. 

fresh tomatoes in the house garden

2. Eggplant

Eggplants, called aubergines or brinjals in other countries, are summer vegetables harvested mid to late summer. They are perennials but are most commonly grown as annuals. If you live in an area with long summers, your eggplant vines may produce high yields. They grow just as well in containers as they do in the ground.

It is uncommon for the eggplant to grow perennially outside tropical regions. They struggle to survive in low temperatures but thrive in warm climates. In ideal conditions, eggplants may return year after year.

A yet to mature short purple eggplant

3. Sweet Potato

Sweet potato plants require little care and thrive in hot weather. The plants grow quickly in a vining pattern. They need full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours per day during the growing season) and prefer loose, well-drained, nutrient-rich soils, but will grow in almost any location. They must also be watered regularly, especially in hot weather. Deep or buried irrigation will help plants increase yields.

A man harvesting sweet potatoes in the garden

4. Squash

Squash is one of the most common vegetables in a garden. This crop is simple to grow and does well in most parts of the United States.

Squash requires full sun, warm temperatures, and adequate air movement to thrive. Squash thrives in growing zones 3 to 10. Select a bush squash cultivar that matures quickly if your growing season is limited.

Harvest squash regularly to encourage more growth and pick while small. When squash becomes overripe, it becomes hard, seedy, and flavorless. Summer varieties should be harvested before the seeds fully develop, and the rinds harden.

young quash plant yellow zucchini in the garden

5. Cucumber

Cucumbers grow best in full sun, but they can also thrive with only 5 hours of sunlight per day. Cucumbers are delicate vegetables that grow best at temperatures of 70°F or higher. Plant cucumbers in a spot that receives full sun late morning to late afternoon. The sun shines brighter than at any other time of day during these hours.

Cucumbers grow well in sandy loam amended with compost or well-rotted manure. Light, sandy soil that warms quickly in the spring can benefit northern gardeners. They prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 7.0, so test yours before planting.

6. Corn

For the best growth and yield, sweet corn should be grown in full sun. Corn requires 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive; six hours of direct sunlight is the absolute minimum. 

The soil temperature must be at least 50°F for germination and development, but 60 to 85°F is ideal. Sweet corn that has germinated may withstand mild frosts because the outer leaves protect the sprouting point. Still, the soil must be warm enough to allow germination.

Most corn cultivars require 80 to 95 days to produce a crop in full sunlight. Indirect sunlight adds considerable time to that schedule. The plants must develop their corn ears before the first frost. Otherwise, they will die before they have a chance.

ripe yellow corn ready for harvest

7. Pepper

Bell peppers require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight for proper development and fruit production. Depending on the region, they may require up to 12 hours of sunlight daily.

Peppers should be grown in full sun with well-drained soil. If there is a balance of sandy and loamy soil, the soil will drain efficiently and warm quickly. Add a lot of organic matter, like compost, especially when dealing with heavy clay.

When the plant begins to produce yields, pick them as soon as they reach their full size and color. Fruit picking regularly encourages plants to produce more fruit. However, the longer bell peppers are left on the vine, the sweeter they become and the more vitamin C they contain.

Growing green peppers in the garden

8. Green Beans

Green beans are delicate annual vegetables, also known as string beans or snap beans. Green beans are available in various colors, including purple, red, yellow, and striped varieties. 

They require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Green beans will also grow in areas with full sunlight for 8 hours, even if the afternoon temperature does not exceed 90°F. Green beans grow well in warmer climates with up to 10 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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