5 Vegetables That Don’t Need Full Sun to Grow

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There’s no other feeling like that of eating vegetables that you have grown yourself. Since you know exactly where your veggies are coming from, it’s healthy and fresh without any preservatives, and it’s also cheaper than buying them from the supermarket. But getting full sunlight can often be difficult considering where you live. So, you might be wondering what vegetables don’t need full sun?

You’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of options when it comes to vegetables that will do fairly well even without full sun. Arugula, Beets, Kale, Garlic, Chinese Cabbage, etc. grow well even in partial shade. You just need to know how to care for them properly.

Taking care of plants in the shade is not the same as taking care of vegetables that require a lot of sunshine daily. These plants have different needs and requirements, as they prefer different kinds of environments. Today we will show you 5 vegetables that will do well even in the shade and how you can care for them!

Different Kinds of Sun Exposure Explained

Before we get on to answering what vegetables do well in shade, let’s first understand what the different kinds of shade or sunlight (relevant to gardening) are. There are 3 kinds of different sunlight conditions that can affect the growth of your vegetable plant.

Full Sun

This is, as the name suggests, direct sunlight for more than 6 hours a day. This kind of lighting can be hard to find, especially for people living in the cities with buildings or houses blocking the sun.

Full Sun also depends on the climate conditions and the intensity of the sunlight the plant receives. For instance, in places where the sun is weaker, the full sun might refer to as much as 8 hours of direct sunlight.

Partial Shade

When your plant receives about three to six hours of direct sunlight in a day, but for the rest of the day the light comes barely through due to different obstacles or other trees, it is receiving partial shade. The light comes reflected through other areas and obstacles.

Most gardens and backyards or even rooftops get this type of shade. This is the most common environment for home-gardeners.

Full Shade

This is when your plant is receiving no direct sunlight at all. You might think of this as being very dark and gloomy places. This kind of shade isn’t ideal for plants, as most plants will need at least a little sunlight to grow. Otherwise, they cannot photosynthesize.

Areas with full shade aren’t great for growing most kinds of plants, vegetables, and fruits. The only way to grow something in full shade areas is by providing a source of artificial lighting.

5 Vegetables That Will Grow Without Full Sunlight

Most gardeners do not get full sun in all areas of their garden. A lot of space is often wasted because people think vegetables won’t grow in the shade. But a lot of different kinds of vegetables do well in shade. You can usually understand if a certain vegetable will grow well without full sun, by just knowing its type.

Usually, vegetables that grow from a blossom, i.e., vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers will need full sun. On the other hand, leafy vegetables (Cabbage, Spinach, Chard) and vegetables that grow underground or root vegetables (Potatoes, Beet, Carrots) will do well in partial shade.

Out of many different ones, here’s a list of 5 vegetables that grow well without full sun, just to get you started.

1. Arugula

Arugula is a great salad green that does well both in full shade and partial shade. It grows in the cooler seasons and tastes slightly peppery, perfect to be added to salads. You can grow them directly, sowing seeds into the ground or using plant cuttings.

5 Vegetables That Don’t Need Full Sun to Grow

You can start using them in your dishes in about 40 days from when you plant them. Check the leaves for color and length. They should be good enough when they are about 2 inches long, and you can cut some out and leave the rest to grow.

2. Beets

Beets are a gorgeous, colorful addition to any dish and can make your food stand out. Both the greens and roots are eaten and they love the partial shade. The roots might be slightly smaller when grown in partial shade as opposed to full sun, but they will still taste amazing.

You can grow them by sowing beet seeds in the spring and fall, and waiting for about 30 days before you can harvest the greens. If you want the roots, you’ll need to wait 30 more days, and then they are perfect for snipping. Wait to see when they grow about 5 inches tall; that’s when they taste the best.

3. Kale

Kale is another great option for all those health-conscious people. It has many benefits and can be grown easily in partial shade. Growing it under full sun might make it taste more bitter and make it go tough.

You can sow the seeds of Kale during fall or summer and harvest them during fall. Usually, in about 30 days, the baby greens are ready to be harvested and if you wait for a whole month, you can harvest mature Kale. 6-8 inches is a good length for the bottom leaves, and that’s when you can harvest them. If left to frost as fall ends, they become much sweeter.

4. Garlic

Most of the cooking world is a huge fan of garlic. Add it to pizza, or bread, or marinara sauce, or pretty much anything, and the flavor increases by tenfold. The good news is they grow well in partial shade. Garlic is usually sown as cloves in fall. Then they are left to grow all through winter and then harvested in summer.

But you can pick them up at any time, and you don’t have to wait the whole season to change. Once the foliage is starting to brown at the bottom, the garlic becomes rich in flavor and is mature enough to be used in cooking.

5. Chinese Cabbage

This one is another crop that grows in cooler seasons. With its sweet and mild taste, it is great to be used in salads, as a side, or even in spring rolls or making kimchi. They also go by the name of Napa Cabbage, and they don’t like direct sunlight at all. Perfect for partial shade, these will grow to be tall, crinkled leaves.

Once you have your seeds sown in, (preferably during the spring and fall) you can start harvesting them in about 45 days or more. You can trim leaves that have grown enough, or once the whole cabbage head has matured, you can harvest it all together.

Advice for Growing Vegetables in Shade

Taking care of a plant grown in partial shade is a little different from plants grown with full sun. Remember to use good quality soil so that your veggies get enough nutrition to grow. Since the plants aren’t getting a lot of sunlight, water will evaporate less quickly. So, you need to adjust your moisture requirements accordingly.

Shady areas are also a great place for insects, bugs, and pests, which can eat your vegetables and cause damage. Be sure to protect the vegetables from pests and keep the area clean. You can also use a border of crushed eggshells to stop snails from coming close.

You can also consider seeding your plants indoors, so they are adapted to getting very little sunlight. This way the plant grows and adjusts its needs to grow well in partial shade. But you should still expect that your vegetables grown in partial shade will mature much slower than the other ones. Especially if it is a plant that prefers full sun, but will survive in partial shade as well.


Now you know exactly what vegetables don’t need full sun. You can start with these suggestions and then expand your backyard garden to include many more options. Let the journey to eating healthy begin in your backyard!

Thanks for reading and wishing you the best of luck with making your own vegetable garden.