Vegetables That Grow Well In Partial Sun

My garden is mostly in full sun, but because it's situated approximately 20' from the edge of the woods, it takes awhile for the sun to get to it in the morning. 11 am to be exact. The definition of full sun is at least 6 hours of direct sun per day, partial sun is 4-6 hours of direct sun per day, partial shade is about 1-4 hours of direct sun that isn't the hot afternoon sun.

From the second the sun comes over the trees, till about 7 pm in summer, the garden gets sun.

Vegetables growing in shade

That should be all there is to it, but because of plant placing there are a few areas that don't get as much sun as others. For instance, since my tomato plants grow to be about 4' tall, anything planted behind them doesn't get as much sun. Asparagus creates the same problem. 

When planning my garden I need to take this into account.

We talked about figuring out how much sun your garden gets in How to Make a Sun Map for your Garden. If this is your first time gardening in your location (or you're moving the garden plot) you'll want to make a sun map first. If you've been using that spot for a few years you're probably familiar with the way the sun moves across your property during the growing season.

Knowing which parts of your garden has less sun, or which plants will block the sun once they're full grown is essential to planning a garden where all your plants get the correct amount of sunlight for optimal growth! 

Also, when planning your garden from year to year don't forget to account for changes! For instance, there was a large tree that had been here for the last 12 years. It blocked the sun for most of the day on one small corner of my garden. Over the years as the tree got taller and wider it blocked more and more garden from getting sun. 

After gardening in the same spot for a dozen years, the entire top corner of the garden was in shade 80% of the day! Last year I was a bit flustered getting things in super late after a spring surgery screwed my timing up. I forgot and planted zucchini in the shady spot. I got 2 small zukes off that plant! lol Another plant 15 feet away in full sun produced dozens of large zucchinis! 

I also happened to plant the radishes right there in the shade and they did great! The sage wasn't bad either but the basil didn't do great.

One of the branches fell off that tree a few years ago and last summer we realized the inside was was better to take it down before it fell down. We removed it in fall so now the entire garden will be in full sun. Not sure where I'll put the radishes, they did really great in the shade! 

While many vegetables do need as much sunlight as possible, others do okay with just partial sun and partial shade. Some thrive in a shady area. Check the seed packet of each variety because this can vary pretty widely. 

beans growing in a shady garden

Here are some of the best vegetables to grow with only partial sun.

Vegetables that do well in partial sun

Best grown in slightly shaded areas that offer 4-6 hours of direct sun each day.


One of the easiest vegetables to grow with just partial sun is beans. However, you need to consider what types of beans you have. The beans that grow on a vine and trellis are fine with just partial sun. With bush beans, try to give them at least 6 hours of sun per day. 

Beans are great because they add nitrogen to the soil as they grow, so they can really benefit other vegetables growing near by.

Related reading: How to grow bush beans.


Beans and peas seem to like similar growing conditions and peas do better in cooler weather, so keeping them out of full sun allows them to grow further into the summer. I like to plant peas first thing in summer and last thing in fall because they do so well with less direct sun and cooler temperatures. Peas can tolerate partial shade. 

Related reading How to grow peas in the garden.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Both broccoli and cauliflower can survive with partial sun during the day. Broccoli actually shouldn’t have full sun all day because it can ruin the flavor and I notice it tends to bolt more quickly. It does better with shade during the hottest part of the day, which keeps it cooler slowing the flowering process. 

Cauliflower is similar to broccoli, where you want it to flower a little slower. Keep the sun exposure to no more than 6 hours a day.

Arugula also does good in partial sun. I included it here because even though it's known as a salad green, it's not a type of lettuce but rather a brassica.


If you want to grow greens in a shaded area, cabbage is your best bet. Cabbage doesn’t want a lot of sun, as it can dry out the vegetable. This produces bigger leaves and smaller heads of cabbage, overwhelming the vegetable itself. It is ideal for a partial sun and partial shade area. 

Celery also does pretty well in partial sun.


Garlic, onions, leeks and chives do very well in partial sun. I also grow ornamental allium flowers (the purple ball shaped ones that look like they're from a Dr Suess book) in a shade garden and they do great! Interestingly I have them planted in a full sun garden also and they do pretty well there too, but the blooms last longer in the shade.

Vegetables that do well in partial shade

These are the ones that do best with mostly shade and 1-4 hours of direct sunlight a day, as long as the direct sun is not in the hot afternoon hours.

Beets & Radish

Beets can easily grow in partial shade. Beets are actually beginner-friendly as well, so if you’re just starting to grow vegetables, these are good to start with. Radishes, turnips and kohlrabi are very similar to beets in their growing condition requirements and do fine with only a few hours of direct sun a day.

Kohlrabi growing in a shady garden


All types of lettuce do well in partial sun. In fact, in the heat of summer the direct sun plus heat will cause some varieties of lettuce to bolt. Kale and spinach do well in partial shade also as they prefer cooler temperatures.


There are a lot of herbs that do well in partial shade: mint, parsley, calendula, sage, rosemary, lavender and oregano all do well for me in partial sun/partial shade. My basil bolts every summer when it's in full sun, so I like to plant it near my tomato plants so it gets some shade once they get tall. 

I'm sure you've heard that most of the herbs I listed should be planted in full sun but I found these to do great in that shady corner of my garden I mentioned earlier. I wrote about the 11 Medicinal Herbs you can Grow Indoors and almost all of them can be grown in a partial shade garden outside too!

As mentioned earlier, one of the tricky parts of gardening is placing your plants so that the ones that like some shade can be behind plants that grow tall and bushy to block a little sun for them. 

Asparagus likes full sun, but after the spears are harvested the ferns grow big and bushy and block out a good amount of sunlight. I plant Bloody Dock (Red Veined Sorrel) on the back side of my asparagus patch so once the ferns grow they block out some sunlight. 

Planting something shorter that loves sun on the front side of the asparagus ensures that the tall ferns get enough sunlight to build up their energy stores for winter. 

It takes a little bit of juggling to figure out what goes where, but once you have your plants in the right sun & shade combo they'll flourish! 

Related reading: Want to learn more about growing food cheaply? Check out all my frugal gardening posts!


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