Planting a Shade Garden

Planting a Shade Garden

Most vegetables and flowers need lots of light, which makes planting in the shade challenging. However, some plants do okay in the shade so that space doesn't have to remain bare. In order to plant successfully in shady areas, it's essential to understand the space and choose the proper plants.

Types of Shade

Partial shade – this location receives sunlight part of the day. This can mean just morning sun or late afternoon sun. Partial shade means the plants get between 4-6 hours of sunlight per day.

Dappled shade – This type of shade is most common underneath trees and other tall foliage. Dappled shade may mean the plants are seeing light all day, but it is not anywhere near full strength. These sites get 2-4 hours of sunlight per day.

Full shade – These areas don't receive any direct sun during the day.

How To Plant A Shade Garden

The first thing you need to do before planting anything is to evaluate your shady site. It will only be successful if it is planned well.

  • What type of shade does the site receive, partial, dappled, or full?
  • When during the day does the site receive sunlight, if at all?
  • How far is your garden from the equator? Locations closer to the equator have stronger sun, so even if it is only 4 hours a day, it is more intense than in northern locations.
  • Does the site have adequate drainage? Sites will less sun are prone to waterlogged soil and poor drainage since there is less evaporation.
  • Measure the site so you know how many and which types of plants will fit.

Once you've evaluated the site, draw up a plan. Research varieties that will thrive in the type of site you have available. Most seed packages will list whether the plants must have full sunlight or will be okay in partial or dappled/heavy shade.

Planting in containers is an excellent method to use for shade gardens. This way, you can move the plants to follow the sun throughout the day. Put the plants on wheeled shelves for easy movement.

Vegetables That Grow Well In Partial Shade

If you see the term partial shade on a seed package, this means the plants will grow in 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. You may have to play around with varieties to get the best-producing ones, but all these vegetables can grow in partial shade.

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green onions
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Oregano
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
Vegetables That Grow In Dappled Shade

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Sorrel
  • Asian Greens
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Plants in shady areas typically take a little longer to mature, so be patient. Shade isn't the best location for many plants, but that doesn't mean they won't grow there. Of course, full sun-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers can't be planted in shady areas, but as you can see, there are still a ton of options to turn that shady site into a productive garden.
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