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What Are Vegetables That Grow in Direct Sunlight?

By T.M. Samuels ; Updated September 21, 2017

Vegetables that grow in direct sunlight make up the majority of vegetable gardening. Very few are able to live and thrive in shade. Full-sun vegetables need more water, but that guarantees better results from your garden, and better results mean bigger volume and larger vegetables.


Potato, Solanum tuberosum, is from the nightshade family. It is a vine-like annual with 10-inch long leaves and star-shaped flowers in white, pink, blue or lavender. Poisonous parts on a potato are stems, fruits and leaves. The root is the edible potato, and small tubers are called “seed potatoes” to replant. Grow in full sun, in a well-drained soil.


Turnip, Brassica rapa var. rapifera, is from the cabbage family and is a fast growing and easy-to-grow annual. Leaf stems are typically 1 to 2 feet tall, and there are two parts of this plant that are edible. Leaves are “turnip greens,” and the roots are “turnips,” both edible. Sizes, colors and shapes depend on the cultivar. Grow in full sun, in any nonacidic soil.


Broccoli/cauliflower, Brassica oleracea var. botrytis, is from the cabbage family. It is an annual. Broccoli comes from clustered flower buds picked before they open, and cauliflower is from a cluster of malformed buds that stopped developing while still in the bud stage of their development. Grow in full sun. Cauliflower is much more difficult to grow than broccoli; mulch both well.


Onion, Allium cepa, is from the lily family and is an annual with a 2- to 4-feet tall stalk and edible bulbs. Size, color, shape and flavor depend on the cultivar chosen. Some onions are sweet, and some are not so sweet. Grow in rich, well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade.


Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is from the mallow family and is 3 to 8 feet tall with leaves that can irritate the skin. Flowers are yellow. There are 25 varieties of okra, and colors depend on the cultivar; however, most commercial okra is "Clemson Spineless.” Grow in full sun, in well-watered soils.


Tomato, Lycopersicon lycopersicum, is from the nightshade family and is an easy-to-grow perennial/annual. Sizes, colors and shapes all depend on the cultivar, but most cultivars are round, red and acidic. Most cultivars also require a trellis or stakes for support. Plant this in full sun, with a soil with a pH over 6.0. Also, for best results, do not let the soil dry out.


About the Author


T.M. Samuels has been a freelance writer since 1993. She has published works in "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living" and "Mature Years," and is the author of a gardening book. Samuels studied pre-medicine at Berry College.