Shade Tolerant Vegetable Plants

Although the majority of vegetables don't like the shade, there are quite a few that are shade tolerant. Remember only mushrooms will grow in dense shade. Beans and peas require at least six hours of direct sunlight. Root vegetables need sun too, even though the edible part of the vegetable is underground.


Potatoes will grow in light shade, although they grow faster with some direct sunlight. The only edible part of the plant is the tuber. The rest of the plant is toxic. The tuber grows on an underground stem and not the roots of the plant. While the brown-skinned white-fleshed potato is probably the most familiar, potatoes come in various other colors including gold, red and purple. Shapes include oval, fingerling and round. Size ranges from that of a large marble to more than 2 pounds. Potatoes can be harvested at any time, but the longer you wait the bigger the potato grows.


Plant lettuce in light shade and you'll enjoy crisp salads during the hot months of summer. Since heat also makes the lettuce flower and then go to seed, plant varieties that leaf rather than head. Lettuce can be sweet, spicy or slightly bitter. The leaves range from crisp and crunchy to mildly crunchy to more pliable like butter lettuce. Green isn't the only color of lettuce. Red oak has red leaves edged in darker red. Endive is nearly white. Frisee lettuce has very curly edged leaves with yellow leaves deepening to pale green. Harvest the leaves by cutting off a few around the outer edges of the plant. The lettuce will keep growing.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, chard, mustard greens and kale are all leafy greens that grow in shade. Spinach has dark green oval-shaped leaves. The young leaves are good raw in salads. Chard has leaves up to 12 inches long with a thick broad stem down the middle. That stem is removed by some cooks since it's tougher than the rest of the leaf. Others leave it in for a bit of crunch. Mustard greens, contrary to what you might think are not spicy, but rather mild tasting. What gives the processed mustard condiment its flavor are the seeds. Kale has dark green leaves with a gray cast. The leaves are best cooked and taste pleasantly bitter. Harvest all the leafy greens leaf-by-leaf to keep the plants growing.

Keywords: shade tolerant vegetables, shady vegetables, shade garden vegetables

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.