Updated May 20, 2023 – If you have an area in your garden that only gets part sun during the day you can still grow vegetables in that area.
In fact, in hot climates, some vegetables do far better in semi-shade rather than full sun as hot weather and too much sunlight can make some plants bolt to seed before you’ve had a chance to reap their harvest.
So growing these types of vegetables in semi-shade can increase your growing season. This means that you can harvest them for longer than you would have been able to if they were grown in full sun.
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Table of Contents
- Follow This General Rule For Success
- Extra Care Needed When Planting Around Tall Trees
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Follow This General Rule For Success
As a general rule of thumb, any plant with large dark green leaves is happy to grow in semi-shaded areas of your garden.
So, any plants that you harvest for their leaves, stems or roots will grow successfully with only a few hours of sunlight a day. Plants like leaf lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, peas, beans, kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower do well without a full day of direct sunlight.
Root vegetables like carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips and beetroot can also grow quite happily in semi-shade as long as they get at least 4 hours of sunlight a day.
I’ve even grown potatoes quite successfully down the side of my house which only gets a few hours of sunlight a day. You may find that you get a smaller crop or they take longer to mature but who doesn’t love baby carrots and small new potatoes?
Asian greens like bok choi also grow happily in semi-shade. Give them plenty of fertilizer high in nitrogen as this promotes leaf growth and will make for a good harvest.
Extra Care Needed When Planting Around Tall Trees
If your shady garden spots are due to tall trees, remember that the trees will compete with your vegetables for both nutrients and water.
So, make sure that you feed your veggies well and water regularly to give them the most optimum growing conditions. However, be careful not to overwater.
If in doubt, feel the soil with your fingers. If it’s damp, then you don’t need to add further water. When watering, try to water only around the root area of your crops and avoid wetting the leaves.
This will avoid disease problems such as fungus which proliferates more readily in shady spots. Make sure you allow extra space between plants to also inhibit the spread of diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most vegetables do prefer a small amount of sunlight daily. However, those with dark green leaves like spinach and kale should grow successfully in a shady spot in the garden. Just make sure that you feed them regularly.
Ideally, select a spot that gets a few hours of morning sun and is then shaded for the rest of the day. Dappled sun that is found under the base of trees is also fine for growing many vegetables. You just have to avoid sun-loving fruiting plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and corn.
There’s really no need to treat the soil differently for growing shade-loving plants. It’s still important to add some organic matter and to make sure that the soil drains well.
Vegetables grown in a shady garden need moist but well-drained soil. Ideally, you should check the moisture level of the soil and water when the top 1 to 2 inches is dry. You can purchase an inexpensive moisture meter for this. This is ideal if you don’t fancy sticking your finger in the soil to see whether it’s dry.
You can most certainly grow many of the vegetables mentioned in containers. However, if you’re growing in containers, you also have the option of moving the pots around so that your plants get some morning sun.
Don’t be put off if you don’t have the ideal growing conditions for those sun-loving vegetables like tomatoes and corn. Plant some shade-loving vegetables instead and have a supply of delicious homegrown veggies all year round.