Is your yard covered by trees or shaded by nearby buildings or coverings? Maybe you live in an apartment or have a small outdoor area shaded by a patio cover. Does this mean you cannot grow your own plants and produce? Absolutely not!
I live in the confined growing conditions of an apartment building, and we have had success growing a variety of plants and vegetables. Just remember, if a seed packet calls for full sun, it means it. Last year, we never did see much growth from our tomato plants, carrots, and cherry seeds.
This year, armed with better plant knowledge and research, I am determined to find edible plants (and decorative plants) that can grow in the shade. Before planting any of these, make sure they are able to grow in your region. Most plants should do fine in the spring, but if you live in an area with a hot summer or cold winter, be prepared for some plant death.
Succulents Designed for Shade
To my surprise, most of the succulents that we planted last year grew amazingly well in the shade. I would have thought a desert plant would require more sun, but they didn’t. Here are some succulent varieties you may want to try:
- Mint Saucer (one of my favorites. Sadly, ours died during the winter frost)
- Agave attenuate (looks like an aloe vera plant)
- Donkey’s tail (a fun alternative to vines)
- Echeveria (comes in tons of colors)
Vines and Greenery for Shaded Areas
We planted several vines last year, and aside from some of them dying during the winter from freezes, they did remarkably well, even through our sporadic watering through the summer months. Here are some of the best shade-friendly greenery plants:
- English ivy (surprisingly hearty in the summer)
- Irish moss (a fun, springy ground cover)
- Oak fern (a fast-spreading, ground cover fern)
- Autumn fern (this fern changes colors with the seasons)
- Fatshedera (a creeping, ground-covering vine)
I was so disappointed when we visited the nursery and found so few flowers that grow well in the shade. I love flowers, so we were determined to find some that would work in the shade. The following flowers will grow well in shaded areas:
- Forget-me-not (small, with pretty blue flowers)
- Fleabane (another small plant with pretty, daisy-like, pink flowers)
- Jacob’s Ladder (can grow quite large and features purple trumpet-shaped blooms)
- Monkey Flower (comes in a variety of colors. Some varieties actually have a monkey’s face inside the flower)
- Garden Hydrangea (requires some sun)
Need more tips on how to make the most out of a garden with just a little space? We recommend
Of course you want your garden to be productive no matter where you live, but just because you can’t grow carrots and tomatoes does not mean you can’t grow anything! There are actually quite a few produce plants that grow well in partial shade. We didn’t try any of these last year, but we will certainly add some to our plant list this year.
- Lettuce (requires about 3 hours of sun per day)
- Scallions and onions (3 hours of sun)
- Bok choi (2 hours of sun)
- Bilberry (2-3 hours of sun)
- Brambleberries (2 hours of sun)
- Elderberry (1-2 hours of sun)
- Celery (1 hour of sun)
- Garlic (1 hour of sun)
- Potatoes (2-3 hours of sun or dappled sun)
We had the most success with herbs in our shaded garden. We had the biggest success with mint, oregano, parsley, basil, and cilantro. There are a variety of herbs that can grow well in partial shade or even complete shade. You may want to try planting the following herbs in shaded areas:
- Aloe vera
- Lemon grass
Tips for Maximizing Growth in the Shade
Most plants benefit from some exposure to sunlight, so if you can maximize any possible sun exposure your plants will be better off. We had good luck by installing some widow boxes on our patio rail so that the plants were exposed to more light. Raising your beds so that plants can reach additional sunlight can also help. If you have an overhanging tree, you may want to prune back some of the branches to allow more light to the plants below. Some plants will grow tall to reach the sun, which happened in the case of our basil plant.
Do you have a shaded area in your yard? Share your shade gardening tips with us!