While it’s safe to assume that all plants need sunlight to grow, not all of them thrive in full sun.
Instead, you’ll come across some that prefer the shade.
If you’re wondering what vegetables grow in shade, here are some you can try growing.
20+ Vegetables That Grow in Partial Shade
Gardens with partial shade are those that get anywhere from three to six hours of sun every day.
It could mean a part of your property that is moderately shaded for a couple of hours or one that gets filtered sunlight throughout the day.
If you think you can’t make use of that part for your vegetable garden, here are some vegetables you can try growing:
Peas are a cool-season crop, so they would appreciate being planted in the shade.
What you will like about growing peas is that you can plant them in containers.
Even better, you can use the shade of sun-loving plants and grow them next to eggplant, corn, or tomatoes.
Often, peas are also planted next to other crops that thrive in partial shade like lettuce, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips.
Depending on the variety and given the right growing conditions, you can expect harvest within 30 to 65 days.
Though in the same family as onions, leeks are sweeter and have a milder flavor.
And because they don’t form bulbs, they are the ideal crop to grow in partial shade.
While growing in areas that don’t receive full sun will produce smaller leeks, it won’t affect the taste and unique texture.
Most varieties take their time to reach maturity, which can be anywhere from 70 to 120 days.
Harvest in fall after the first frost date or before the soil freezes for the best flavor.
Scallions belong to the same family as leeks, but they differ in their size and taste.
They also produce small bulbs and larger green stalks you use to add a mild onion flavor to stir-fries, salads, and soups.
You can grow scallions in full or partial sun and begin harvesting in about 30 days.
If you like a more intensified flavor, allow the plants to mature for up to 120 days.
Like peas, horseradish also thrives in cold weather.
This crop will take up a huge chunk of your garden, so plant horseradish in well-draining, moist, and nutrient-rich soil in containers or its own corner.
The roots are ready for harvest after the frost has killed the foliage.
Despite being a perennial, you’d be better off growing it as an annual.
Otherwise, you might end up with tough and fibrous roots the following harvest season.
For gardens with loamy or sandy soil, you can try growing radishes, not only for their roots but also for their tasty greens.
What’s more, you can choose from different varieties depending on their colors, sizes, and shapes.
The best part? If you start the seeds of a fast-growing variety in early spring, you’ll have radish roots to enjoy in as quickly as 20 days.
This also means you’ll have plenty of time to plant and grow a second crop.
Lettuce is perhaps every salad and BLT lover’s favorite leafy green.
And because you’re growing it for its foliage, you’ll want to protect the greens at all costs.
More than anything, this means protecting it from the sun and too much heat, which can cause bolting or seeding.
You can do this by covering it with shade cloth or growing it under partial shade, such as under trees.
Young lettuce leaves or baby greens are ready for harvest in about 30 days.
If you leave them to grow to full maturity, they’d be ready 45 to 70 days after planting, depending on the variety.
Do you enjoy snacking? You’ll throw away those chips when you’ve realized just how much more delicious homegrown celery is.
It is a cool-season crop that grows well in full or partial shade.
Start transplanting seedlings in spring to give your celery plants enough time to grow and thrive in cool weather.
Then, harvest in 45 days for baby greens or within 90 to 120 days for fully mature plants.
As a cool-season crop, cauliflower will thrive in partial sun, especially if your area has really hot summers.
Compared to when planted in full sun, it will most likely produce a smaller head and take its time in doing so.
However, the shade will protect the head from turning a different color or from flowering early.
You can harvest cauliflower in approximately 50 to 120 days, depending on which variety you choose to grow.
Like cauliflower, kohlrabi plants will produce smaller bulbs when grown in partial shade.
Even so, they will appreciate the cooler temperatures as the summer season sets in.
This vegetable has the combined flavors of cabbage and radish, making it perfect for salads or tossed into stews and soups.
Plant in spring or fall, and you’ll only have to wait around 55 days for harvesting.
Joining the list of cool-season crops is kale, a salad staple we all love for its mildly bitter leafy greens.
Kale is very tolerant of the cold, so it is the ideal crop to grow in the fall.
Also, warm temperatures can make its leaves watery and bitter, so make sure you plant them in shady spots.
You can harvest baby greens at 30 days or allow the leaves to mature fully and wait until after 60 days.
Do you like beets for their roots or the greens?
Regardless, you will find that growing them in your own garden is a brilliant way to have a steady supply of good-quality beets.
The roots will be understandably smaller, but they will taste even more tender than when grown in spots that receive hours of direct sunlight.
As you might’ve guessed from the name, mizuna is a kind of Japanese vegetable.
It has a somewhat bitter mustard flavor and lobed leaves that mix perfectly with a variety of salad greens.
It also likes the cool weather, so you can have a generous yield if you grow them in a shady garden.
The baby greens are good enough to eat in about 20 days; wait 50 days if you wish to harvest mature heads.
13. Mustard Greens
Like the pungent flavor of mustard? How about trying to grow them in your own vegetable garden?
Mustard greens are not only fast and easy to grow; these salad greens will also thrive in partial sun.
When grown in the shade, you’ll prevent the leaves from acquiring a bitter taste, and the plants won’t bolt as quickly.
And if they do, most gardeners appreciate the beauty of its flowers too.
Harvest in 30 days for baby greens, or wait until 60 days for the more intense flavor of the mature leaves.
Similar to mustard greens, arugula grows fast. However, not all home gardeners like its musky taste and odor.
On the other hand, some enjoy its peppery foliage to spice up soups and salads.
While it is a sun-loving plant, it can also tolerate the growing conditions of a shady garden.
Planted this way, you’ll be extending its growing season so that you have enough supply for months.
Depending on your preferred flavor intensity, it’ll be ready for harvest anywhere from 20 to 40 days.
Potatoes, like all tubers, thrive in gardens that receive hours of direct sunlight.
At the same time, they like the cool weather, too, so they will tolerate being grown in partial sun.
There’s a good chance you’ll get a lower yield and smaller potatoes, but it’s still worth it in the end.
Even better, you’ll have a long list of varieties to choose from, including Kennebec, Dark Red Norland, and Rose Fin Apple Fingerling.
Carrots are among the most nutritious root vegetables you can grow in your vegetable garden.
Did you know you can also mince carrot tops to add to stews and soups?
Like potatoes, the sweet roots will most probably be smaller than when grown in full sun.
They will also take their time to fully mature, which can be anywhere from 30 to 60 days after sowing the seeds.
Cabbage is a cool-season crop, so it’s best to grow them in partial sun if your region experiences warmer temperatures.
When exposed to too much sun, its outer leaves are more in danger of drying out, which could mean smaller heads.
Choose from a wide variety of cabbages, such as Danish Roundhead, Fast Ball, and Early Jersey Wakefield.
The growing time will depend on the variety and can take anywhere from 60 to 110 days.
18. Brussels Sprouts
Perfect for coleslaws or eaten steamed, these small cabbages are a thrill to grow.
They also like cool weather and shade, which will sweeten them up to your liking.
Brussels sprouts grow on long, tall stems. As such, you can plant them alongside shorter crops like bush beans or peas.
Plant in spring and harvest them 90 to 100 days after in fall.
19. Bok Choi
Bok choi is a type of ancient Chinese cabbage that you can eat raw, roasted, grilled, stir-fried, or braised.
In growing this crop, you will have to be very careful with timing to prevent the plants from bolting.
You can either start the seeds indoors or sow them directly in your vegetable garden in spring and fall.
Then, harvest in 30 days for baby bok choi, or wait 60 days for the plants to mature fully.
Like bok choi, broccoli is a member of the cabbage family.
Growing in the shade means you’re preventing it from flowering quickly and producing looser and bitter heads.
What’s more, your broccoli will taste much better.
Make sure they get enough water, and you can expect harvest in approximately 50 to 70 days.
If you can only choose one crop to grow, there’s no doubt you will love having garlic in your vegetable garden.
After all, its prices can go really high, so having your own supply is always a welcome idea.
Plant the cloves in fall, and you’ll have a healthy harvest come summer.
The bulbs will be smaller when grown in partial sun, but it won’t affect their taste or nutritional benefits.
Asparagus is a perennial that grows to maturity in three years.
If you have the patience to wait that long, you will definitely enjoy big rewards.
While they thrive in full sun, they can also survive in partially shaded vegetable gardens.
However, you will probably end up with not as much yield, so plant more asparagus to accommodate the difference.
What you will like most about growing rhubarb is that it doesn’t require too much care.
As a perennial, it will continue to grow and produce vegetables for harvest each spring once it has established strong roots.
Keep in mind that it has a long growing season, often taking at least a year to produce long enough stalks.
Another shade-tolerant vegetable is the humble parsnip.
They also like the cool weather and will have a sweeter flavor if you harvest them after frost.
You’ll want to sow seeds directly in spring when all dangers of heavy frost have passed.
Though fit for human consumption at any size, the roots will mature in about 120 to 180 days.
Can Vegetables Grow in Full Shade?
Before answering the question, let us first clear the air and say that “full shade” does not equate to no sun.
Instead, it pertains to an area that receives no more than three hours of direct sunlight every day.
So, is it possible to grow vegetables in full shade?
Perhaps the most tolerant of shade of all vegetables are leafy greens.
They will survive, but you can’t expect them to produce as much foliage as most gardeners would like.
Root crops are also pretty shade-tolerant.
However, the roots will not be as big as if you’ve grown them in partial or full sun.
After all, all plants need enough sun or light exposure for photosynthesis.
A partially shaded vegetable garden does not automatically mean you cannot practice your green thumb.
In fact, you can still grow different kinds of crops and harvest a pretty good yield.
Besides sun requirements, don’t forget to take into account your garden’s soil composition, airflow, and the weather too.