Plant suggestions for less than 6 hours of sun

Asked January 18, 2019, 10:04 AM EST

My fast-growing maples have decreased the amount of sun exposure to my garden beds. Any suggestions for veggies and/or cutting flowers which don’t need a ton of sun?

Hennepin County Minnesota cut flowers gardening under trees vegetables for part shade vegetable gardening flowers for part shade

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Growing plants near a large shade tree is always a challenge due to light, nutrition, and moisture competition. Remember that for plants to thrive under the tree, you will have to regularly water and fertilize. Another important concept to remember when disturbing the area under a large shade tree, is to avoid damaging the fine surface and deeper larger tree roots. Gently dig small holes in which to insert plants, avoiding cutting tree roots as much as possible. This publication goes in to more detail: https://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2011/PlantingUnderTree.shtml

Vegetables that can do well in part sun are those in which we harvest and eat leaves, stems, and roots. Examples: Collards, spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, kale, turnips, parsley, radishes, and lettuces. Avoid plants from which we harvest flowers, fruit, and seeds (tomatoes, beans, eggplant, melons, cucumbers). Container planting of vegetables is an option for those that need full sun.

Bulbs are a nice option for cutting flowers grown under trees. Most, like tulips, daffodils, crocuses, are done blooming by the time the tree leafs out and blocks the sun. Other perennials with lovely flowers can work too, like, phlox, some daylily, goatsbeard, monkshood, ferns, culver's root, astilbe, hosta, and columbine.
This link provides nice annual flower options: http://extension.illinois.edu/beyond/directory_annuals_shade.cfm

Thank you for contacting Extension.