30 Vegetables that Grow and Thrive in the Shade

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: October 8, 2023
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Are you ready to get your garden planted but are concerned about the sunlight it receives? Don’t worry! Many vegetables need some shade to survive or can thrive even in shaded areas. We wanted to help you start your journey toward planting a partially shaded garden. So keep reading to discover 30 vegetables that thrive in the shade.

How Much Sun Do You Need?

The answer to that question completely depends on the plant. Many vegetables can tolerate a range of conditions. But the result and growth rate will differ between each one. Before determining where to plant your vegetables, you will first need to ascertain how much sun each section of your yard or garden gets. 

Spots that receive full sun exposure get at least six solid hours of direct sunlight daily. This light is critical for many plants, including some vegetables. So anything that needs this much sunlight should get top priority in your sunniest spots. 

Partial sun refers to locations that receive three to six hours of sunlight daily. These spots should get reserved for vegetables that need plenty of sunlight but not full sun. 

Plants that can tolerate partial shade do well in three hours of direct sunlight daily. And those that need full shade require less than three hours of direct sunlight, with dappled exposure the rest of the time. 

Consider which vegetables need direct sunlight, which need shaded areas, and which can tolerate a range. That will help you determine where in your garden to plant certain items. Below are plants that thrive in partial shade, so you can feel comfortable planting them in areas with less sunlight.

Leafy Greens That Grow in Shade

1. Arugula

This cool season leafy green has a peppery flavor and is fantastic in salads. During the middle of summer, it tends to bolt in the heat. You could extend your harvest window by planting it in shaded areas. Plan on harvesting the baby greens around day 20 and the maturity greens at 40 days.

arugula on wooden plate

Arugula has a bite that brings some life to your salad.

©Sea Wave/Shutterstock.com

2. Lettuce

There are countless lettuce varieties to pick from, making it fun to experiment in the garden. Unfortunately, none of them do well in the heat. Plant your lettuce seeds in shaded areas to prevent the leaves from turning bitter and the plants from bolting. Depending on the variety, you can expect a harvest window of approximately 30 to 70 days. 

Fresh red and green lettuce isolated on white

Lettuce thrives in shaded environments.

©PotaeRin/iStock via Getty Images

3. Mustard Greens

Another cool season leafy green that does not tolerate heat well. Mustard greens will grow bitter and bolt quickly in the summer heat. Planting them in partial shade will help bring in a harvest in hot weather. Feel free to start harvesting at 30 days. The plants will reach maturity in 60 days. 

mustard plants in the nursery, mustard greens growing in pots, mustard leaves close up.

Planting Mustard greens in partial shade will help bring in a harvest in hot weather.

©ByPict projects/Shutterstock.com

4. Tatsoi

This Asian cool season leafy green will rapidly bolt in the heat. Protect it under some shade to get a harvest. It has a mild, slightly bitter flavor and is excellent in stir fry dishes. The harvest window ranges from 25 to 50 days. 

tatsoi greens

Tatsoi doesn’t do well in the heat but may survive in partial shade, even in the hottest weather.

©Irwan Ridwan Cholid/ via Getty Images

5. Swiss Chard

While Swiss chard will happily grow year-round in many climates, it will do best when planted in a shaded area. That way, you can continue harvesting even when the weather is hot out. It will extend the season for this cool-weather plant. Select baby greens around 45 days, but leave the center leaves intact so the plant can keep growing.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard thrives in partial shade.


6. Spinach

Unfortunately, spinach despises the heat. The seeds will germinate without issue, but the plants will almost instantly bolt. However, you can extend the harvest slightly by planting your spinach in shaded areas when the weather starts to warm up. It still won’t grow in the height of summer, but you can get extra time out of your plants. Harvest between 30 and 45 days. 

Basella alba, Malabar Spinach

Spinach despises the heat.

©Photo: Joydeep /CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

7. Bok Choy

This tender Asian green comes in a variety of sizes. So feel free to pick the one that suits your taste preferences. It grows extremely well in cooler weather and shaded environments. But it will bolt in the heat. So, avoid planting it in the hottest part of the summer and extend your harvest window by keeping it in shaded areas. You can harvest baby bok choy leaves around 30 days, and the plants reach maturity after 60 days.

A white ceramic bowl of baby bok choy in an oyster sauce with Shitake Mushrooms and fried garlic. The bok choy has been cooked. Its leaves are darker green than its stems. the mushrooms and garlic are different shades of brown and gold. a brown sauce/juice is visible in the bottom of the bowl. It looks like soy sauce, but is oyster sauce. The bowl sits on a table covered with a white table cloth. a wooden (bamboo?) spoon and fork are resting on a napkin behind the bowl. The cloth covered table takes up the background.

Bok Choi grows extremely well in cooler weather and shaded environments.


Onion Family Plants That Grow in Shade

8. Scallions

Scallions will grow darn near anywhere, so don’t worry if the only spot you have left is in partial shade. It will likely take them longer to reach maturity, but that’s ok! You can harvest small scallions for around 30 days. But be sure to leave a few until they hit peak maturity, around 120 days. The flavor will intensify at that time.


Scallions will grow darn near anywhere, so don’t worry if the only spot you have left is in partial shade.

©Stephan Schlachter/Shutterstock.com

9. Leeks 

Like scallions, leeks will do just fine in partial shade. Note that you may expect to see some smaller bulbs on shade-grown leeks. But if that doesn’t bother you, feel free to tuck them into partially shaded garden spots. Expect a harvest around 70 to 120 days. 

Leeks cut into pieces for cooking

Leeks grow well in the shade but may produce smaller bulbs.


Brassicas That Grow in Shade

10. Napa Cabbage

This cool-season crop has a milder flavor than standard cabbage. Unfortunately, hot temperatures turn the leaves bitter and may result in bolting. So try to plant your cabbage in partially shaded areas for the best flavor. You can expect a harvest in about 45 to 60 days.

Napa Cabbage

Plant napa cabbage in partial shade to prevent bitter leaves during the middle of summer.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

11. Broccoli

Another cool season plant is broccoli. Like its relative, broccoli does not do well in warmer temperatures. It can turn bitter in high heat, so planting it in partial shade will help protect the flavor. Broccoli heads mature in roughly 50 to 70 days. 

asparagus vs broccoli

Broccoli does not do well in warmer temperatures.


12. Kohlrabi

You may not have tried this cool season crop, but you might have seen it at farmer’s markets. Don’t be fooled by its odd appearance. This flavorful root vegetable is mild and can get eaten raw. It matures in about 55 days. 

Heads of fresh ripe bio white cabbage kohlrabi from organic farm, close up

Kohlrabi is a cool season crop.


13. Kale

It is no surprise that kale is known for its ability to overwinter. This cool season crop adores colder weather. You can grow it during the summer, too… just try to plant it in partial shade. Too much hot, direct sun will result in tough, bitter leaves. Kale plants mature in around 60 days, but feel free to harvest young leaves earlier!

fresh cut, dark green kale

Kale grows well in partial shade since it needs cooler weather.


14. Cauliflower

Like its relatives, cauliflower is a cool-season crop that can tolerate shaded environments. The heads will develop slower in partial shade. But they will be better protected against damage and yellowing. They will mature anywhere from 50 to 120 days. 

Yellow cauliflower on white background

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop that can tolerate shaded environments.


Root Vegetables That Grow in Shade

15. Beets

Many people grow beets for their roots but don’t forget the flavorful greens. These vegetables do best in partially shaded areas, which help prevent moisture loss in the soil. Start harvesting the greens around 30 days and the roots at 60 days.

beet in garden with shovel

Beets will grow well in partial sunshine.

©Vlad Antonov/Shutterstock.com

16. Turnips

You can grow this cool-season crop longer in the summer when you keep it in partial shade. Enjoy some of the greens while the roots develop. Feel free to start harvesting some of the greens after 30 days. The roots will take up to 90 days to reach maturity.

Delicious fresh turnips. Turnip is one of the typical root vegetables eaten all over the world.

You can grow turnips longer in the summer when you keep them in partial shade.


17. Rutabaga

Rutabagas have a slightly deeper flavor than turnips. But they look very similar. Like their cousins, rutabaga leaves are also edible. You can start harvesting them around 30 days. The tasty roots take longer to develop and don’t reach maturity until 90 days. They can handle partial shade but produce smaller roots under those conditions.

Row of small Rutabaga or Swede or Swedish turnip or Neep cold weather root vegetable plants with visible edible roots and small dark green leaves planted in local home garden surrounded with wet soil

Rutabaga can handle partial shade but produce smaller roots under those conditions.


18. Radish

This cool-weather crop also has edible greens. However, it doesn’t do well in hot, direct sun. The roots generally won’t develop in hot weather, and the few that do will become woody. Start harvesting the small tender roots in about 20-30 days.  

A bunch of radishes on a white background

Radishes grow best in cooler environments and do best in partial shade.


19. Potatoes

Potatoes take a long time to develop. The tubers start getting ready to harvest around 70 days but may take up to 120 days. Potato plants can tolerate partial shade. Just be aware that the result is slightly smaller potatoes.

Baskets of fresh Irish Potatoes

Potato plants can tolerate partial shade.


20. Parsnips

Parsnips take so long to develop that partial shade will help protect the roots and prevent moisture loss during hotter weather. Sit back and practice patience with this root vegetable. They take 120 to 180 days to reach maturity.

Fresh parsnips with leaves on the ground in a vegetable garden, close-up

Parsnips take so long to develop that partial shade will help protect the roots and prevent moisture loss during hotter weather.

©Svetlana SG/Shutterstock.com

21. Carrots

We’re all used to growing carrots in the heart of summer, and that works out quite well. So it may come as a surprise that they develop a sweeter flavor in partial shade and cooler weather. Start harvesting these popular root veggies around 30 to 60 days. 

orange carrots on a wooden table

Carrots develop more flavor in cooler temperatures, so consider planting them in shaded areas.

©5 second Studio/Shutterstock.com

Other Plants That Grow in Shade

22. Asparagus

This perennial plant takes a few years to start producing full harvests. So you’ll have to put a little extra thought into where you plant your asparagus. While this vegetable prefers full sun, it will tolerate partial shade. So, don’t worry if that’s the only space you have. Anticipate slightly lower yields when you plant in the shade, however.

asparagus vs broccoli

While asparagus prefers full sun, it will tolerate partial shade.

©DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock.com

23. Peas

Peas need cooler weather or plenty of shade to grow when it’s hot out. You can extend your pea harvest a little longer if you plant them in spots that only receive a few hours of sunlight daily during the height of summer. The plants take up to 65 days to reach maturity.

Bowl of snow peas on wooden background, top view

Peas need cooler weather or plenty of shade to grow when it’s hot out.


24. Celery

Celery doesn’t like excessive heat. Too much will result in hollow stalks. Cooler weather or partial shade will have better results. 90-120 days

Fresh sliced celery in a white bowl on a vintage wooden background, selective focus

Celeri doesn’t like excessive heat and thrives in the shade.


25. Radicchio

Whether or not you plant radicchio in the shade depends on the time of year you sow the seeds. This cool season crop needs ample sunlight during colder spells. However, if you plant it during the summer, make sure it gets at least partial shade to protect the delicate leaves. You can harvest your tasty radicchio heads in about 60 to 65 days.

Radicchio heads

Radicchio provides a bitter and flavorful punch to salads and grows well in the shade.

©Liudmila Chernetska/ via Getty Images

26. Horseradish

Horseradish is a cool-season perennial that grows best in moist, shaded areas. It takes 140 to 160 days of growth before your horseradish is ready for harvest. You’ll just want to get it out of the ground before the first hard freeze.

Horseradish can be grated and used in sauces

Horseradish adds a kick to meals and grows well in partial shade.


27. Rhubarb

This cool season perennial is low-maintenance once you get it in the ground. It isn’t ready to harvest until the second year, though. Feel free to plant it in a location that receives partial shade, as it will thrive in those areas.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) growing in garden

Rhubarb is a perennial plant that can grow in shaded areas.


28. Cucumbers

Cucumber plants produce blossoms that do need some sun exposure. However, you can plant them successfully in locations that get partial shade. If you do so, make sure they get the peak afternoon sun. You can start harvesting your cucumbers in approximately 40 to 60 days.

Green plant with ripe cucumbers in garden on sunny day

You can plant cucumbers successfully in locations that get partial shade.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

29. Bush beans

Pole beans tend to reach for the sun and need plenty of exposure to thrive. However, bush beans are the opposite. While they do best in locations that receive full sun, bush beans grow quite well in the shade. So feel free to tuck them in some of your taller plants. Bush beans take 40 to 60 days to reach maturity.

bush beans

Bush beans handle partial shade far better than pole beans do.

©yul38885 yul38885/ via Getty Images

30. Garlic

Most of the time, garlic gets planted in areas with full sun exposure. However, it does thrive in spaces that only receive partial shade. The bulbs will likely develop a little smaller, but that does not impact the flavor. You will plant garlic in the late fall or early winter for harvest the following year. 

Garlic Cloves and Bulb in vintage wooden bowl.

Garlic thrives in spaces that only receive partial shade.

©Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 30 Vegetables That Grow in the Shade

3Mustard Greens
5Swiss Chard
7Bok Choy
10Napa Cabbage
29Pole Beans

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/okugawa

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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

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