How to Grow Vegetables in Partial Shade


Though most vegetables require full sun, you can grow vegetables in partial shade. Some specific garden vegetables actually do quite well with some shade. Vegetables usually grown in cooler months can grow in the summer with shade to prevent bolting. Avoid vegetables that flower, fruit or thrive in heat, such as peppers. Almost anything grown for leaves or roots will survive in partial shade. Choose from a variety of lettuces, spinach, chard and cruciferous vegetables for your shade garden.

Step 1

Choose a site that receives partial shade. Most vegetables do fine with over 6 hours of full sun, but for your shade garden try to aim for approximately 4 hours of sun in the afternoon. Place the garden away from the base of trees because the soil will be dry and lack nutrients.

Step 2

Prune tree branches that overhang the area. Thinning the branches allows dappled sunlight to reach the plants. Sometimes removing one larger branch turns a deep shade area into a suitable place for partial shade vegetables.

Step 3

Prepare the soil before planting. Remove any grass or weeds. Dig or till in at least a 3-inch layer of compost. You can also add a fertilizer specifically for vegetables to provide nutrients.

Step 4

Decide which vegetables you want to grow. Most shade vegetables grow well from seed. You can purchase plants for the vegetables that take longer to mature, such as broccoli.

Step 5

Plant the seeds following the depth and spacing guidelines printed on the packet. Place taller plants on the north side of the bed.

Step 6

Spread a light layer of mulch over the bed. If it is too thick, the seeds will have difficulty poking through toward the light.

Step 7

Keep the bed well watered. Do not make it soggy, but moist. The plants need about 1 inch of water per week. Shade beds under tree canopies require more watering because the tree roots will sap the soil of moisture.

Step 8

Maintain the bed by weeding regularly. As the plants grow, add more mulch to prevent weeds and preserve water in the soil. Fertilize during the growing season following the directions on the container of fertilizer.

Step 9

Harvest you shade garden vegetables as they mature. You can replant quick growing varieties, like leaf lettuce, as soon as you harvest the first crop.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Seeds and plants
  • Mulch


  • Colorado State Extension
  • University of Minnesota Extension
Keywords: vegetables in partial shade, shade garden, shade vegetables

About this Author

Kitten Arbuckle is a freelance writer living in Indiana. Arbuckle has been writing for websites such as Garden Guides since early 2009. Her education includes training in landscaping, certification in herbal medicine from a botanical sanctuary and a variety of college courses.