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30 FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND HERBS YOU CAN GROW IN PART SHADE

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You want to grow a vegetable garden, but unfortunately, all you have is partial shade, or even worse, full shade. Don’t despair. While you can’t grow everything you might want to, there are lots of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that do well in shade. In this blog post, I give you just that: a list with pictures of 30 edible plants that grow in the shade!

Interested in growing even more plants in part-shade? Check out the video below to see which cut flowers are best for these conditions:

Realistic Expectations for Growing Edible Plants in Shade

Just because a fruit or vegetable is shade tolerant, doesn’t mean that it will grow exactly the same as it would in full sun. Expect your plants to grow slower and produce less of a harvest.

If possible, you can get a bit more sun by trimming trees or removing them altogether. If the area is by a fence, you could always paint it white to help reflect the light, or even set up a mirror if you have a large one.

That said, here are some options for shade-tolerant fruit, vegetables, and herbs!

Fruits that Grow in Shade

There are a surprising amount of fruits that will grow well in the shade. In fact, there are at least 10 that I didn’t list, because I garden in Zone 3 in Canada, and I don’t like listing plants that I have no hope of growing. Wherever you are, I recommend buying any fruit bushes or trees at a local greenhouse and asking the staff if the variety you want to buy can be grown in partial shade.

Don’t try and ask the staff at a big box store. Chances are very high that they will not know.

P.S. There’s a surprising amount of fruit you can grow in Zone 3. Check out these 28 hardy fruits you can grow!

1. Lowbush Blueberries

Blueberries fall into two categories: high bush and low bush. Choose the low bush varieties for partial shade and make sure that your soil is on the acidic side.

2. Chokecherries

Chokecherries are very hardy and can even be grown in Zone 1. If you’ve never tried one before, they are very astringent and don’t taste good raw. They are delicious in jams, jellies, and juices when you add a lot of sugar.

Ripe chokecherries hang on a branch against a blue sky.

RELATED: How to Make Chokecherry Jelly

3. Currants

Mountain currant or alpine currant (ribes alpinum) - leaves and fruits.. Close-up

4. Elderberries

5. Raspberries

Raspberry canes have a spreading habit once established. Be a kind neighbour and offer to pull out any canes that stray over the fence line. Fruit does not grow on first-year canes, so you will not get any fruit the very first year.

a bunch of red ripe and tasty raspberries

Need recipe ideas? You’ll love these scones, muffins, and no-churn ice cream.

6. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a very hardy fruit. The stalks are delicious, but the leaves are poisonous.

RELATED: Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Pectin, Bumbleberry Crisp with Saskatoon Berries, Rhubarb, and Strawberries

7. Saskatoon Berries

Canadians know these berries as Saskatoon berries, but Americans will likely know them as Serviceberries or Juneberries. Whatever you call them, they’re delicious!

I’m a wee bit obsessed with Saskatoon berries and have a lot of recipes on this blog. Click here for a list of all my best Saskatoon berry recipes!

Vegetables that Grow in Partial Shade

What vegetables do well in shade? The ones that like cool weather and tend to be quick growing. In general, most leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are able to tolerate partial shade. Partial shade, with about 4-5 hours a day of light, or even a full day of dappled shade underneath a deciduous tree is your best bet for growing shade-loving vegetables.

Can You Grow Vegetables in Full Shade?

If you have an area that receives no sunlight whatsoever all day (e.g. the front of a North facing house or a walkway between houses that is constantly shaded) you most likely won’t be able to grow any vegetables. Many of the leafy green vegetables can be grown with as little as 2-3 hours of light a day, but the growth will be slow.

1. Arugula

Arugula is one of the quickest growing crops you can grow, with only 20 days to maturity!

2. Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, and you can’t harvest anything until the third year. Once the plant is established, it will provide you with fresh produce every spring without any effort.

3. Beans

Beans prefer full sun, but if you’re okay with slower growth and a smaller harvest, you can grow delicious bush beans.

4. Beets

Most root crops are also good candidates for growing in partial shade. Get your seeds in the garden as early as possible, as they will need the whole season to get as large as possible.

5. Bok Choy (and similar leafy greens)

6. Broccoli

In some cases, broccoli actually does better in partial shade, as the cooler temperatures the shade provides mean it’s slower to bolt.

Do you struggle with bugs in your broccoli? Here’s how to keep them out! The same trick will also work for cabbage or any other cruciferous vegetable.

7. Cabbage

8. Cauliflower

This cauliflower was ready for the compost, so I didn’t feel bad about tossing it in the air. Do you have a certain flower or vegetable you struggle to grow? Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are hit and miss for me, so I often need to throw my expectations out the window. As gardeners, we have to remember to have a little fun every now and then!

RELATED: How to Make Healthy Low Carb Cauliflower Rice

9. Celery

Celery is not a quick-growing vegetable. It’s best to start celery 8-10 weeks before you intend to plant them outdoors.

Want to know how to grow celery (and other vegetables) indoors without seeds? Check out the video below:

10. Collard GREENS

Collards are very similar in texture to kale and are quick and easy to grow. They’re not very popular in Canadian diets, but they should be! Plus, they’re frost-tolerant, so they’re a great option for fall gardens!

11. Kale

There are so many varieties of kale to choose from, ranging from the darkest green, to blue/green, to tinged with pinks and purples. Sneak some into your flowerbeds for something that is both pretty and practical.

12. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is super useful, as it can be ready in as little as 45 days. Both the leaves and roots are edible.

13. Peas

Peas are one of the less-shade-loving-slower-growing options on this list, but they will still work. Just plant more than you usually would to account for the vines being less productive.

14. Potatoes

This is our sad potato harvest from 2020. If you want to see more about what our growing conditions were like and how we planned to adjust things going forward for a bigger and better harvest the next year, check out this video!

RELATED: 10 EASY-TO-GROW VEGETABLES FOR BEGINNERS (PLUS 5 YOU’LL WANT TO AVOID)

15. Radishes

Radishes add a nice peppery hit to your salads. Don’t plant too many though. 16 or so radishes in enough for one week. Plant a new crop every week or two while it’s cool for radishes all season.

16. Spinach

My favourite variety of spinach, hands down, is Bloomsdale. It’s the only one that I actually get to harvest before it bolts.

17. Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard comes in so many pretty colours. My favourites are Bright Lights and Giant Fordhook.

18. Turnips

Turnips are another vegetable in which both the leaves and roots are edible. I like the Purple Globe variety because it’s both pretty and tasty.

NEED MORE IDEAS FOR PLANTS THAT LOVE THE SHADE? HERE ARE 17 PERENNIALS THAT GROW IN ZONE 3 AND 22 OF MY FAVOURITE SHADE ANNUALS.

Shade Tolerant Herbs

All those vegetables would taste better with a couple of fresh herbs! Although most herbs are heat and sun-loving, there are 5 herbs that tolerate the shade.

1. Basil

My favourite kind of basil is Sweet Basil, but I also like to grow a few other purple-tinged varieties to use as greens in flower arrangements too.

2. Cilantro

RELATED: How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden from Seeds

3. Mint

Keep your mint in a pot instead of growing it in the ground, as it has a spreading habit that you might not appreciate.

4. Oregano

5. Parsley

Which of these shade-tolerant vegetables, fruits, and herbs will you grow? Find me on FacebookInstagramYouTube, and TikTok to join the Shifting Roots community, follow my gardening journey in real-time, get regular cold-climate, short-season gardening tips, and more!


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Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Kristen

Welcome!

Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!