How to Grow a Garden in the Shade


A photo posted by Seedsheet (@seedsheet) on

Can your vegetable and flower gardens tolerate shade? Plants need light to grow (just like we need food to live), but some require more sunbathing-time than others. 

Here are 3 steps to start growing in shady-conditions:



First, notice the amount of sunlight in your targeted growing areas. 

  • 100% shade: Your area doesn’t receive direct sun at all. In this case, an indoor setup with an (inexpensive) set of grow lights (easily Primed on will do the trick and get you growing your own salads and fresh herbs right in the comfort of your home. 
  • Medium shade: The sun is blocked by a building or tree, and the area only sees 4 hours of sun per day. This is an opportunity to grow cooler season crops throughout the entire (hot) summer such as kale, lettuces, and some herbs.
  • Light shade: An area receives partial sun (morning/afternoon), or 6-8 hours per day. Grow plants for their leaves, and not roots or fruit. They might not grow to be as large as if in full sun, but the shade will make for sweeter and tastier salads


  • Amend your soil with plenty of fertilizer and compost in shady areas. When plants have enough nutrients to have a healthy foundation of growth, they are less susceptible to disease or insect pests. The weak ones are targeted first! 
  • Line the bottom of your raised bed before filling with soil, especially if it is in close proximity to a tree. Tree roots spread wide underground and can be competitors for water and nutrients with your vegetables. By creating a barrier, you will preserve the moisture and fertility in your garden. 
  • Water a shade garden less than an area in full-sun because the soil won’t dry out as quickly. With too much moisture, plants will be more susceptible to fungal diseases. 
  • Try planting a container garden in buckets or lightweight pots. If your garden is mobile, you will be able to move your containers as the sun moves with the day. This is a great and versatile solution for growing your own food at home.
  • Prune lower branches of surrounding trees to let in more light (if possible). 
  • Plan a garden near a white wall to help reflect more light onto the plants.



    Choose garden plants that will work for your space. Pick leafy greens such as lettuces, arugula, Asian greens, spinach, chard and kale. Parsley and basil can do well with partial shade as well. Seed Library does an fantastic job of suggesting different flowers, herbs and vegetables for planting in areas without 100% full sun exposure. 

    These Seedsheets consist of varieties that will thrive in full-sun to partial-shade:

2x3 Patio Greens

2x3 Patio Greens


  • Don't forget, you can also cut your Seedsheet to fit your garden or container.
  • Trim the varieties and distribute in a way that will work for different light-zones of your garden. 


Keep us posted on your growing projects! Tag us at #AskSeedsheet for a quick response to your gardening questions!

Follow @Seedsheet on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook for more gateways to gardening.