How to Grow Shade Vegetables


There's a myth that a successful vegetable garden can only be grown in full sun and no shade. Homeowners interested in growing their own backyard garden, like the Victory Gardens during World War II, but who have a yard covered in shade often give up on the idea of a home garden altogether. In fact, you can have great success with a shade vegetable garden. While most vegetables do better in full sun, many shade vegetables are available. If you have a gardening location that lacks the full sun required for other vegetables and are looking for vegetables that grow well between rows of taller crops, or if you are planning a fall garden, there are varieties of vegetables out there that will grow in the shade and will ultimately provide you with a rather bountiful harvest.

Step 1

Select shade tolerant vegetables. Vegetables that grow well in shady locations include lettuce and other greens, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and some root vegetables such as turnips and carrots.

Step 2

Prepare planting site. Test soil with a pH tester and amend if needed. Vegetable garden soil should be between 5.5 to 7.5 pH.

Step 3

For a typical summer vegetable garden in a shady location, prepare planting location by clearing out overhanging branches or vines and amending soil. While many vegetable plants grow well in shady areas, according to the University of Missouri Extension, air circulation is needed to keep the plants healthy. Without direct sun, moisture may remain on the leaves, increasing the chance of mold, mildew, rot and disease. A more open environment allows for air movement, which can assist in drying excess external moisture. Planting under trees means protection of the tree must occur. Amend soil carefully around the base of the tree, taking care not to injure the root system.

Step 4

For intensive gardening, plant shade tolerant crops between rows of taller or trellised crops. The shade crops will perform well in the shadows. North Carolina University Extension advocates avoiding overcrowding, as crops planted too close together will decrease needed air circulation, leading to poor plant health.

Step 5

For an autumn garden, transplant seedlings according to the growth rate of the seedlings and when the first deep frost is assumed to occur. Some crops, including beets, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli are frost tolerant. Other crops, such as leafy greens, will succumb during frost but will grow well in the low light of autumn. Keep transplants well watered during the heat of summer as they establish.

Tips and Warnings

  • Vegetables grown in the shade will likely not produce as hefty a crop as those grown in full sun.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden space
  • pH tester
  • Seeds or seedlings
  • Spade
  • Water


  • Intensive Gardening
  • Texas A&M: Growing a Fall Garden
  • Gardening in the Shade

Who Can Help

  • Revive the Victory Garden
Keywords: shade tolerant vegetables, shade vegetable gardens, grow shade vegetables, intensive gardening

About this Author

Rochelle French has been a writer and editor since 1994, providing services for businesses, novelists, and publishers. Her articles can be found on and She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from University of California, Davis and is a published author of six pseudonymous novels.