Shade Plants – Vegetables that Grow in the Shade, by D.A.

Shade Plants - Brussel Sprouts

Shade Plants – Brussel Sprouts

If you have to bug out, you may find yourself lodged deep in the woods. Most of the common vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash won’t grow without six hours of sunlight. While no vegetables will grow in dense shade, there are some shade plants that will thrive in constant dappled shade or with three to six hours of full sunlight per day.

Starting the Seeds

Start the seeds in as bright a light as you have available. You can use white painted panels to direct the sunlight to the seedlings. Seedlings need sunlight most when they are germinating and starting to grow.

Salad Greens

Greens such as leaf lettuce, endive and argula will not only grow in partial shade, but they can be cut-and-come-again crops, meaning they will produce a crop for months simply by cutting them off and letting them grow back from the center. While spinach won’t grow to full size in shade, you can harvest it as baby spinach. Mini and micro greens can be grown quickly when on the move.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a great source of vitamins and minerals and roughage. Kale, collards, spinach and mustard will all grow in partial shade, and are also somewhat cold tolerant, so make for a great survival food in the fall and winter.


These need a little more sun. A good location would be a site that gets no morning sun, but lots of afternoon sun. Remember that you can also eat the leaves and flowers of some varieties of peas, so choose your seeds with that in mind. Peas can be eaten at an early stage, pods and all, which makes them good if you are not going to be in one site too long.

Beets and Radishes

If you are growing these two vegetables for their roots, you will need full sun for at least 3 hours a day, but if grown only for their young greens, you can get by with dappled shade. Radishes grow very quickly and can be grown easily in containers, so they are great if you are on the move.

Brussel Sprouts

This is a personal preference, and you need to be in place for a couple of months to grow these. The good thing is that they are fall/winter vegetables, so a great survival choice for overwintering. They also grow well in containers, and their leaves are also edible.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Both of these are good overwintering foods that can be grown in partial shade. Look for varieties of broccoli that will grow side shoots after the main head if harvested, or a variety that only grows small shoots on a continual basis. Their large leaves are also edible.


The beauty of scallions is that you can harvest the greens continually, and as long as you cut at least an inch above the white root, they will grow back. Once a bunch is pulled, the roots can be kept in water and will keep producing greens for weeks.


Your food needs something other than salt and pepper, and there are several herbs that will grow in partial or dappled shade. Wild garlic is an essential, because it is not only a culinary herb, but a strong antibiotic. Chamomile, parsley, cress, borage, mint, sage and dill can all be used medicinally as well as for seasoning food.

It’s good to know that there are crops you can grow in a bug out location with dappled shade. Choose your seeds wisely, and plant heirlooms if you are going to be in one location long enough to harvest seeds. Especially in the fall and winter, these foods may be the difference between survival and starvation.