Shade Gardening

Well, sometimes we can’t help it. We are happy to have a garden, but part or even most of it is shaded by a house, another building, a fence, or trees. So how to use the shady areas? 

All plants require sunlight to grow, but they differ in the amount and intensity of light needed to prosper. Each plant is defined by the amount of sun it requires, as specified:


  • Full sun
    Plants need at least 6 hours of direct sun daily
  • Partial sun
    Plants thrive with between 3 and 6 hours of direct sun per day
  • Partial shade
    Plants require between 3 and 6 hours of sun per day but need protection from the intense mid-day sun
  • Full shade
    Plants require less than 3 hours of direct sun per day

I am sure you already understood that it is essential to know in which category your garden stands to have a successful shady harvest. There are various methods of doing it: using apps, sunlight calculators, or simply observing your garden during different parts of the day. 

More tips here:      

What to plant in your shady garden?

The good news is that plenty of plants can tolerate or even prefer a shaded location.



spinach, leaf lettuce, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, escarole, garlic, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips.


In general, vegetables that grow from a blossom (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons) need full sunlight. On the other hand, leafy greens or veggies that grow under the ground can grow well in shady areas. Also, the more colourful the vegetable is, the more sun exposure it will need.



basil, catnip, chervil, chives, germander, horseradish, lemon balm, lovage, mint, parsley, rosemary, sweet woodruff, and valerian.


Perennial flowers

beebalm, astilbe, foxglove, bleeding-heart, primrose, forget-me-not, hydrangea, lily-of-the-valley, foam flower, Jacob’s ladder.


Annual flowers

impatiens, begonias, calendula, fuchsia, pansies, wishbone.



5 tips for gardening in the shade


Be patient
My favorite one. Every plant needs at least a bit of sun and since your garden is less exposed to the sun, it will grow slower. Also, shaded areas warm up slower in spring, so give it some time and don’t sow too early.

Water only when needed
Shady areas will retain moisture for a longer time than normal, which means they need to be watered less often.

Start indoors
Start with seeds inside instead of direct sowing and transplant them when the right time (in your zone) comes.


Mulch after planting

Don’t forget to mulch you plants. It will keep the soil moisture and minimize the weeds.


Reflect any available light
This can be done for example by painting the nearby walls or fences white or by using mirrors.