7 Vegetables That Can Grow in Shade

Vegetables that can grow in the shade can help you utilize all parts of your garden. Which vegetables should you consider growing?

Shaded areas of a vegetable garden are sometime dismissed as being unproductive. However, if you know which vegetables grow best in the shade, you can easily transform these areas into productive areas of crop production.

Many gardeners, especially those who live in more crowded areas, do not have access to the 8+ hours of full sunshine recommended for many vegetable plants. But there are a number of plants that can tolerate partial shade and, in fact, thrive when protected from the intense rays of the summer sun.

In this article, I’ll show you how to grow 7 shade-loving vegetable plants in your yard.

1. Beets

Beets thrive during the cooler months of the year and can be grown for both their greens and their roots. When grown in the shade, they can be a little bit smaller, but the roots are still exceptionally sweet and delicate.

The seeds need sunlight to germinate, but after the seedlings have grown to a height of 2 to 3 inches, you can transplant the entire cluster to a shady area. A minimum of 12 inches of space should be left between each clump in order to ensure adequate growth.

Since shaded places are typically moist, allowing air to circulate through the seedlings can help reduce the danger of fungal diseases. Don’t crowd your plants; give them air to breathe and space to grow.

full grown beets plant

2. Lettuce

Lettuce is an essential component of every vegetable garden. It is both delicious and easy to grow. Lettuce is quick to bolt and will taste bitter or harsh if the weather is too hot and there is too much heat and not enough water. So, it is the ideal crop for a shady vegetable patch. 

The seeds do need light and warmth to germinate, so consider moving the seedlings once they have sprouted.

lettuce leaves in the home gareden

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable that grows best in moist, organic, rich soil. It needs space to develop the large central heads that we are used to consuming.

Broccoli, just like cauliflower, kohlrabi, and other member of the cabbage family, must be picked a few days before they begin to bloom. Growing this vegetable in the shade will cause it to develop more slowly. This, in turn, will give you more time to harvest your crop. 

young broccoli plant in the farm

4. Scallions 

Growing scallions, which are also known as spring onions, is often very simple. This vegetable can tolerate different environments, so consider splitting up your plants. Grow some scallions in the sun, where they will grow quickly, and some in the shade, where they will develop more gradually. This will prolong your harvesting season. 

Like many other seeds, scallions need sunlight to germinate. But once you have young plants, move them as a clump into the shade. You can also seed them directly into the ground in a partial-shade location. 

an array of scallions stalks

5. Kale

Kale is a crop that thrives in the cooler months of the year. When exposed to high temperatures, kale can harden and become quite astringent. If grown in a shady spot, kale will grow beautiful greens throughout the season. The fact that kale can withstand extremely low temperatures makes it an ideal crop for the fall.

The cultivation of kale is very straightforward, and the plant is tolerant of growing in the shade. There are even varieties available that produce a crop during the winter and very early spring. 

fresh and healthy kale leaves

6. Radish

Radishes are yet another unexpected root crop that can tolerate moderate shade. It often grows very quickly; some varieties can be consumed just 30 days after planting. An early crop can be harvested in dappled shade even before the first leaves appear on the trees. 

Radishes, which usually have a spicy flavor, can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked as a side dish. What is often overlooked is that not only are the roots edible, but the leaves can be consumed as well, so you get a two-for-one vegetable.

7. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It requires little maintenance and adds stunning color to your vegetable patch. It is a particularly good choice for shady areas.

In the spring, sow the seeds as part of your gardening routine. Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them out to provide enough space for the plants to develop. Chard leaves can get quite large, so it is imperative that they have room to grow. Generous spacing between plants will encourage airflow, which will decrease the chance of them contracting fungal diseases like powdery mildew. 

swiss chards ready for harvest
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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