Morning sun with afternoon shade is the best environment for many plants. There are many edible plants that grow well in partial shade, dappled shade, or in as little as 3-6 hours of sunlight a day. The raised planter above is 2x4 ft and is elevated on legs. I have several of these planters on a partially shaded patio, and along my fence lines. These planters get a good mix of sun and shade.

If you have a yard that has a few partially shady areas, don't hesitate to plant food there. You can plant all of the sun-lovers in the sunshine and make use of the shady areas for cool weather leafy salad fixin's and root crops. No space should go unplanted. But no vegetable that I know of, will grow in full shade. Vegetables that fruit from a blossom, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and squash are the least tolerant of shady areas.

Many cool weather crops can be stagger-seeded every few weeks for crops spring through fall. This is especially easy to do in raised garden beds. Mixed, closely-planted leafy crops make great salad varieties in containers. I mix my varieties and broadcast the seeds. No need for rows, and I don't measure for spacing. I pluck as the young leaves reach about 3 inches, leaving the root. Most greens will re-grow from the root. I begin some seeds indoors in February, but as soon as the soil in my raised beds is workable, I begin to scatter seed outdoors in prepared planters, and cover with a thin layer of soil. Seeds I plant for leafy crops in March become my first members of my salads, stews and soups in April.

My raised, elevated beds are approximately 2x4 ft. As you can see, this box contains a large number of different leaf lettuces, chard and spinach, closely planted in early spring. Many of these plants are available as seedlings. This box was seeded in early March. First crop of greens was harvested in April.

A large clean, weedless and leafy salad bar in containers is easy.  When leaves are the size you like, Just clip young leaves when you need them. No need to grow crops that form heads or let those grow into heads. Young leaves are much sweeter tasting, and more tender if you are cooking with them. Mixing your varieties of greens in one big box makes for an instant salad at trimming time. Pluck and Go. You're more likely to eat greens every day if you plant near the kitchen or patio door. You won't be able to resist a fresh-picked salad for lunch or dinner. My leafy greens look very pretty closely planted because they're the first living things I see in spring, aside from evergreens. The red and rainbow swiss chards planted with lettuces looks beautiful when they're coming up in April. And "look, Ma, No Weeds or snails!". Those common scourges for some gardeners with shady plots are eliminated.

Containers can be sown and grown on the patio, terrace, in the courtyard or on a balcony that gets a combination of 4hrs.+ sun and shade in the afternoon. Containers look beautiful in urban and small-space settings. Raised beds elevated on legs add an ornamental quality when placed in the centers of the edges of your patio or terrace, with large and ornamental planters and pots filled with veggies around them at ground level. I am in constant battle with marauding rabbits, so I grow my food in raised, elevated beds.

Place a small garden table on the patio to hold a pair of scissors for clipping herbs and leaves, a weather-proof bowl for harvesting, a bowl for salad, utensils and unopened salad dressings. Lunch, or your relaxing evening snack can be salad or veggies and dip on the patio or at a bistro table in your gardens.

Many veggies will grow well in-ground, in raised and elevated growing beds and in decorative large pots. For small space and urban gardens, containers add style, neatness, and creates more growing space.

  • Cole crops are tolerant of partial sun or partial shade. Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, and rutabagas will grow well with less than a full day of sun, but may take longer to mature. Cabbage will also grow in shade, but they may not form tight heads.
  • Root crops such as radishes, carrots, potatoes, and beets can grow in as little as 3-4 hours of direct sun with light or dappled shade for the rest of the day. 
  • Leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula, kale, bok choy, and chard are happy with just a few hours of sunshine each day. Keeping them out of midday sun can prevent their tender leaves from wilting.
  • Climbing vegetables do well in areas that are shaded in the morning but sunny by afternoon. Cucumbers and pole beans will climb up supports into the sunshine.
  • Perennial vegetables such as rhubarb, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes can be grown in partial sun or partial shade. These will die down in winter and return in the spring. Scallions and garlic chives are perennials that do well in partial shade, too.
  • Vegetables that are susceptible to bolting, like broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach, can benefit from being grown in partial sun, particularly in hotter climates.
  • For areas that receive morning sun then afternoon shade, try vegetables such as celery, carrots, and bush beans.

Growing Guides for shade-tolerant vegetables and herbs from Old Farmer's Almanac


Sour cherries actually grow better in shady plots, as they don’t need the sun to sweeten them. Plus, they look very pretty when trained on a fence or wall. I grow tart and sweet cherries that I combine to make jams.

Currants and gooseberries also grow and crop quite well in partial shade. Train them as espaliers against a wall to ensure the branches are well-spaced and that light can reach all parts of the plant.

Cane fruits like blackberries and raspberries can also grow in some shade, but will fruit better with more sun. My everbearing raspberries grow in partial shade against a wall, and do very well.

Rhubarb is another great crop for a shady spot.

For fruit trees, pears and plums are your best bet. Pears do need a few hours of sun, preferably in the afternoon. Plums are a great choice for a landscape that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Just remember, many varieties of pear and plum trees need a cross-pollinator (2 trees of different varieties) to fruit, so you may need more than one tree. I grow all of my fruit trees in large, ornamental pots to make it easy to re-arrange, and they're all dwarf self-pollinating varieties with full-sized fruit, kept at a height that's convenient for care and harvesting.

Alpine strawberries are much tougher than average strawberries. Try a variety called ‘Alexandria’ for shade. 
My everbearing strawberries in partial shade do fine. They are growing in raised, elevated beds to foil the voracious, marauding rabbits.

What NOT to Grow in Shade

Heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and melons just won’t grow without full sun. 
They need hot, sunny days in order to produce fruit.

Most fruit trees need lots of sun. Citrus, peach, nectarine, apple, and apricot trees all need direct sun and won’t thrive in shade.

Tips for Growing in Shade

In all but the hottest climates, use the sunniest parts of the garden to start seeds in a seed bed or in pots or modules, then transplant them to another bed once they are larger and more able to cope with shade. Using grow lights indoors can give early-sown seedlings a boost.

Reflect any available light into shadier parts of the garden by painting walls and fences white, or use reflective surfaces such as shiny metal or foil balls in the garden. Shiny decor like gazing balls repel aphids and look beautiful as the focal point in the beds. A birdbath or other water feature looks pretty and reflects sun from the water.

Slugs and snails often lurk in shady areas of an in-ground garden, so use traps and delay laying mulches until the weather warms up. Raised beds eliminates that scourge.

Leave plenty of space between plants to help maximize light penetration. I often do not do this with my greens.

You may not need to water as often when gardening in the shade, since less moisture evaporates. Take care when gardening directly under trees. Their roots tend to compete for available water and nutrients and their leafy canopy will block some rainfall from reaching the ground.

Grow dwarf or bush varieties or grow on trellises for more food per foot.


Article ©2022
Old Farmer's Almanac

Detailed Site Directory-->

Quick Links

Buddha Serenity Gardens

Native American 
Three Sisters Gardening

Flowers and Their Meanings
Easy Butterfly Gardens


Ayurveda Gardens

Mediterranean Diet 
Vegetable Garden

Easy Square Foot Gardens

Easy Native Plant Garden Layouts

Dwarf Fruit Trees In Pots Raised Bed Square Foot Food Gardens

Monarchs and Milkweed

Autumn Colors Garden

Garden Design Plans

Foraging Nature's Harvests
African American 
Heritage Garden
Botanical Mythology
and Nature Folklore

Garden Folklore

It's Easy... Trust Me.
Espalier Gardens
- How To Espalier Trees and Shrubs

Nature-Based religions Growing Melons in a Small Space
Heirloom Grandmother Gardens Hardy Giant Hibiscus 
and Rose of Sharon
Deer Resistant Gardens
Ornamental Gourd
 and Winter Squash Gardens

Quick Guide To Storing Your Harvest

Native American 
Medicine Wheel


Design, graphics, articles and photos ©2022
All rights reserved.