Top 5: Edible Plants for Partial Shade

There is nowhere in my south facing back garden that gets full sun.  There are parts that would if it wasn’t for my neighbours huge eucalypts casting their shadow across my garden from about 3:00pm every day.  Well its about 3:00 at the moment, in winter its a lot earlier.  I would love to have full sun.  Veggies, in general, love full sun, but I don’t have it and yet things still grow.  I do think that some plants cope a lot better with partial shade than others.  These are some that do well in my garden.

  1. Lebanese Cucumbers:  

I find I get good reliable crops of cucumbers with about 5-6 hours of sun per day.  I do have some planted in a bed that gets less than that which aren’t doing as well but those with 5 hours plus are rocking along just fine. 

2. Chillies: 

I always seem to be including chillies in my lists, partially because I find them indispensable in the kitchen and partially because they are so satisfying to grow.  Oh and  red is my favourite colour …. Anyway mine get about 4-5 hours sun a day and produce well.  I think the things about chillies is you don’t really need them to crop really, really heavily to be happy with them.  I have no doubt mine would produce more in a sunnier spot but even with the amount of sun they get they do well and the heat doesn’t seem to suffer too much, if at all. 

3. Chard:

You’ve gotta love chard (well provided your enjoy eating it that is).  It seems to grow happily almost anywhere.  I have a plant that looks pretty content with only about 3 hours sun a day.  I do find that the green stalked varieties (they often go by the name Perpetual Spinach) are the most obliging.  I have had problems with mildew on the coloured stemmed ones if they don’t get enough sun but the green stemmed ones seem to resist it. 

4. Potatoes:

I have a bed which gets no sun at all in winter.  In that bed I’ve had volunteer potatoes produce crops (albeit small ones) in winter.  I’m not really recommending growing potatoes in total shade but they seem to do fine in partial shade.  The pots that I usually grow them in get about 5 hours sun a day and they produce pretty good crops from this. 

5. Herbs:

Whilst some herbs definitely prefer full sun almost all my herbs are grown in areas which receive less than 6 hours sun a day.  The ones that seem to tolerate the least sun: ie 3-4 hours per day (or less in some cases) are Vietnamese mint, common mint, parsley and chervil.  My chervil plants would only get a couple of hours afternoon sun a day.  I have had parsley produce reasonable (albeit reduced) crops with only an hour or two sun a day (I think it would appreciate at least 3 hours though) and either type of mint is generally happy with just a couple of hours a day. 

Incidently if you want a plant that is fine without any sun at all and you are in a warmish climate then I would given ginger a try it has produced for me in pretty much total shade and I am at the very edge of climates it would grow well in.

And that ends this weeks Top 5.  I would love further suggestions on shade loving plants, particularly those that will tolerate less than 4 hours sun per day as that is something I have in abundance. 

P.S. – Want another veggie related Top 5?  Check out The New Good Life’s Top 5 performers of the summer season to date. 

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16 Responses to Top 5: Edible Plants for Partial Shade

  1. My Watercress (Aqua) that I tried for the first time last year did better when I moved the container into the shade plus the soil kept moister. Just need to keep well watered and have a deep saucer under the container so there is always water for the plants.

    • Liz says:

      I grow watercress too but in winter, and you’re right it does like shade, but not complete shade in my experience. Mine seems to grow best with about 4 hours of sun. Hmmm thinking I should have called this 5 Summer plants that like shade and then I could have 5 more for winter….

  2. Barbara Good says:

    This is the perfect list for me, I too have plenty of shady spots and no idea what to do with them.

  3. I totally agree with your list, but I’d add that my top pick is rhubarb. My rhubarb is growing against the south side of the house and loving it. I can’t imagine rhubarb looking better.
    I also find that other root vegetables do OK in shade, they just take longer. Baby carrots such as Nantes have done well for me, as have beetroot and even onions! My plan for my Bed B (right against the front of the house) this coming season is to plant it out entirely with onions. I imagine that they’ll take most of a full year, but I can’t devote any other space to them and I love pickling onions so much that who cares if they only form small bulbs! I had a few lurking under things in that bed that I only noticed when I pulled other stuff out, and they have formed bulbs just fine.

    Great list Liz! Keep them coming.

    • Liz says:

      My parents grow lots of rhubarb so I have to say I knick theirs rather than growing my own but perhaps I should give some a try in a particularly shady area I have if yours is so happy. I’ve successfully grown beetroot in about 3-4 hours sun before but I’ve never had much success with carrots – perhaps I’ve just been too impatient and pulled them too early though….

  4. becky3086 says:

    A lot of spots in my garden are at least only partial sun. I would suggest kale. I have grown it in several places and it always does well.
    I have had potatoes grow in quite a bit of shade as well.
    I really like your Swiss chard plants. It is something I have not had much luck with but keep tyring and I haven’t even tried eating any yet, lol.

    • Liz says:

      I would really recommend the green stemmed chard varieties if you are having issues mine are really trouble free and vigorous. I have some Kale seedlings that need planting out so I will definitely follow your advice and see how they go in the shade.

  5. stone says:

    I find that the harsh subtropical sunlight that my garden gets means that some shade is good to have, as my plants tend to get sun scald otherwise.

    In the thin air of Las Vegas, I suspect that your veggies feel the same way that mine do.

    Posting a fave list of veggies for the shade seems like it could be very helpful, it’s a question that seems to come up ovr n ovr at yahoo answers…

    Good call, nice pics!

  6. Bumble Lush says:

    Nice post–I mainly grow veggies, and although I have a fair amount of sunny spots, it’s good to know where I can put some herbs or veggies that may not need as much sunlight.

  7. I’d recommend a chain saw Liz!

    • Liz says:

      Oh I know, but knowing my luck I saw through the trunk only for the damn thing to fall on my car, or house, or shed or in fact anywhere except where I wanted it to go….. they were supposed to be coming out last spring…..

  8. Veggiegobbler says:

    Just the post I was looking for. Thanks Liz.

  9. Gardenglut says:

    What a helpful list, like the suggestion of the rhubarb as well. And I loved your red snap dragons with the green chillies.

  10. Bee Girl says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have a couple of spaces in both the front and the back yards that get very little sun…I’ll have to try a few of these!

    BTW-I’ve tagged you in a little blog love linky fun! Check it out:

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