QUESTION: Which vegetables need full sun to grow their best? I know many of the vegetables I’ve grown in the past require full sun, but not all of them do. — Dwight L.
ANSWER: It’s true that not all of the plants in a vegetable garden need full sun for an optimal growth environment, but there are lots of vegetables that do. Full sun is defined as at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If the sunshine in part of the garden is dappled, like when the sun is filtered by overhanging trees or comes through a neighbor’s fence, then the sunlight is indirect.
You may need to watch how the sunlight moves across your property at different times of year to determine which parts of your garden get full sunlight. The same amount of sun will not always be available during different seasons or times of day. You can draw a simple map of your yard and note when sunlight shines on the different areas or keep a list in another way. Remember if you are making your notes at the beginning of spring that when trees branch out and get leafier as spring progresses through summer, they will shadow larger areas of the yard. Similarly, areas that are in dappled shade from early spring trees might completely be shaded in the summer.
As a general rule, vegetable plants that produce lots of fruit during their productive seasons do best when they’re planted in full sun. These include lots of classic vegetable garden plants like squash, tomatoes, and peppers. However, in the hottest areas (like American gardens in southern states) even plants that need full sun to thrive will appreciate some shade and protection during the most sweltering times of year.
Here’s a list of vegetable garden standards to grow in full sun, or parts of the garden that get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Beans (both bush or climbing beans and pole beans)
- Cilantro / Coriander
- Peppers (bell peppers, cayenne peppers, ghost peppers, habanero peppers , jalapeno peppers, paprika peppers, serrano peppers, Tabasco peppers
- Summer squash
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter squash
Once you know which parts of your garden receive full sun during which parts of the year, you can use this list of plants for the vegetable garden that thrive in full sun. Before you know it, you’ll be bringing in baskets of fresh produce from your garden still warm from the sun to eat fresh or use in recipes all year long.