If you’ve got a shady corner of your garden, don’t despair—you can still grow tomatoes! While it is true that tomato plants thrive in full sun, there are several varieties that can handle partial shade.
Here are some tomatoes that will grow well even if they don’t get direct sunlight throughout the day – and a complete guide to just how much sun your tomato plants need to thrive.
The Amount of Sun Tomatoes Will Need
So, just how much sun do tomatoes need? Let’s break it down.
How Much Sun “Regular” Tomatoes Need?
Most gardeners agree that “regular” tomato plants—also known as determinate or indeterminate plants—need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day in order to thrive.
Six hours is generally considered the minimum amount of sunlight needed for a healthy tomato plant; more than six hours of direct sunlight can actually be beneficial, since it will encourage healthier foliage, faster growth, and better fruit production.
If you live in a particularly hot climate, however, you may want to reduce the amount of sun your tomato plant gets during the hottest parts of the day in order to avoid scorching leaves and fruit.
What About Tomato Varieties That Do Well in the Shade?
Not all tomatoes need full sun in order to produce tasty fruits; there are some varieties that do well when grown in partial shade or even full shade.
For example, cherry tomatoes tend to be less sensitive to shady conditions than other types of tomatoes; as long as they still get four or five hours of direct sunlight each day, they should produce reasonable yields without any issues.
Furthermore, there are some heirloom varieties (such as Black Krim) that are actually more productive when grown in partial shade rather than in full sun!
Do Tomatoes Grow Better in Shade or Sun?
One of the most common questions asked by tomato growers is “Do tomatoes grow better in shade or sun?” The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Let’s explore the details of growing tomatoes in both sun and shade conditions so that you can make an informed decision for your garden.
Can Tomatoes Grow Without Direct Sunlight?
Tomatoes need direct sunlight, at least six to eight hours per day, to grow their best. However, some types of tomatoes can tolerate partial shade if necessary.
It’s important to note that while tomatoes may thrive with less than eight hours of direct sunlight per day, they will produce fewer fruits than if they get eight hours or more of sun.
Can Tomatoes Be in Partial Shade?
Remember that not all shade is equal when planting your tomatoes!
While light-dappled shade may be fine for growing tomatoes, if there’s heavy overhead foliage blocking out light, then your plants won’t get enough sunshine to thrive.
If your garden has plenty of bright morning sunshine but gets shaded out by trees later in the day, then you should be able to successfully grow tomatoes without issue.
Can You Grow Tomatoes With Just Four Hours of Sun?
If you only have four hours of sun available, look for varieties like ‘Early Girl’ or ‘Stupice’.
These tomatoes will still produce fruit, although they may be smaller than fruit from plants that receive more sun.
How Many Hours Of Sunlight Do Tomatoes Need?
One of the most important factors in growing healthy tomatoes is ensuring that they get enough sunlight.
Most varieties of tomatoes need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, although some can tolerate less.
There are some shade-tolerant varieties of tomatoes that can handle less than four hours of sunlight per day!
If you’re unsure how much sun your tomato plants are getting, you can use a sun tracker to help you determine the best placement for them.
Which Tomatoes Grow Best in the Shade?
Here are some tomatoes perfect for growing in the shade and some tips on how to best care for them.
1. Black Cherry
Black cherry tomatoes are small and sweet and are one of the most popular varieties for growing in shaded areas.
These tomatoes need about six hours of direct sunlight to thrive – but don’t worry if you don’t have enough sun; they can do just fine with a little less.
To maximize flavor and growth, provide Black Cherry tomatoes with ample water, fertilizer, and organic compost. They also benefit from companion planting with herbs like basil or oregano.
Another great tomato variety for those with limited sun exposure is Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are a good choice because they produce high yields with minimal effort on your part.
The key to success with this variety is to provide good watering as well as regular fertilization during the growing season.
Siberia tomatoes are another excellent choice for growing in shady spots since they thrive in cooler temperatures than other tomato varieties.
Siberia tomatoes typically produce large fruit so it’s important to provide plenty of support (such as staking) so that the plants don’t become top-heavy or break branches due to weight from heavy fruit production.
This variety also appreciates regular waterings and may benefit from supplemental fertilizer throughout the summer months to ensure healthy growth and maximum yields come harvest time!
4. Black Krim
Black Krim tomatoes are an heirloom variety that loves partial shade conditions – making them an ideal choice for those who just don’t have enough sun exposure to grow other types of tomatoes successfully!
This variety produces deep purple/black colored fruits that have a unique flavor profile unlike any other tomato type out there – making them a favorite among home gardeners everywhere.
5. Golden Sweet
The Golden Sweet is an indeterminate hybrid with an extended harvesting time. It produces large yellow cherry tomatoes with a sweet flavor and few seeds.
This variety does not need as much sun as other types and is disease resistant, making it ideal for growing in partial shade.
Beauty tomatoes are round and red, with a mild flavor and creamy texture that makes them great for salads or snacking fresh off the vine.
They prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade, especially when planted in warmer climates where afternoon temperatures can climb too high.
7. Mama Leone
Mama Leone is a determinate type of tomato that grows well in containers or small spaces like balconies or patios where there isn’t much room for full-size plants.
It is also tolerant of lower light conditions and produces good yields even with limited exposure to direct sunlight.
Mama Leones have a rich, sweet flavor and make excellent sauces or canned goods!
8. Gold Medal
Gold Medal Tomatoes: Gold Medal tomatoes are one of the most popular varieties for growing in the shade.
These robust plants reach heights of up to three feet and produce medium-sized fruits with a pleasing taste.
Gold Medal tomatoes thrive in temperatures between 55°F and 85°F (13°C – 29°C). They also require plenty of water and need to be fertilized regularly.
9. Cherokee Purple
Another great choice for growing in the shade is Cherokee Purple tomatoes. This variety is renowned for its robust flavor and deep, purple color.
Cherokee Purples grow to an average height of around three feet and require temperatures between 60°F and 80°F (16°C – 27°C).
They also need plenty of water and should be fertilized every two weeks during their growing season.
10. San Marzano
The San Marzano variety is an Italian heirloom tomato with a classic flavor and shape. This type of tomato typically grows to about 6-8 ounces and can be used for both fresh eating and canning.
It’s also resistant to cracking and splitting, so you don’t have to worry about it getting overripe too quickly.
The San Marzano tomato prefers well-drained soil and does best when grown in a spot with at least four hours of indirect light per day.
11. Early Wonder
Early Wonder is a good choice if you’re looking for an early harvest. This variety produces small, round fruits that are bright red when ripe.
They have a sweet flavor and firm texture and can be used for salads or sauces as well as fresh eating.
Early Wonder tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with plenty of organic matter and need only two to three hours of indirect light each day to thrive.
12. Paul Robeson
This variety has deep red fruit with a rich, smoky flavor reminiscent of blackberries or plums.
Paul Robeson tomatoes are medium-sized (about eight ounces) but very meaty, making them ideal for sauces or salsa recipes.
They do best in loamy soil with moderate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as four to six hours of indirect light each day during the growing season.
13. Principe Borghese
This Italian heirloom produces small (2-4 ounce), egg-shaped tomatoes with thick skins perfect for drying or making into sun-dried tomatoes.
The Principe Borghese variety has a mild sweetness that makes it great for adding to salads or pasta dishes or just snacking on straight off the vine!
While this plant needs plenty of water during the growing season (at least an inch per week), it only requires three or four hours of indirect light each day to thrive in its shady spot in your garden.
14. Vernissage Yellow
This yellow cherry tomato is known for its sweet flavor, and it produces well even in partial shade. Vernissage Yellow grows best when temperatures stay between 70-85 degrees F.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for something compact; this variety only grows to about two feet tall!
This small, yellow-orange variety is perfect for containers because it requires little space and grows well in partial shade.
Ildi has an intense flavor that makes it perfect for snacking or adding to salads.
Its compact size makes it easy to manage, and the plants themselves produce abundant fruit all summer long.
16. Isis Candy Cherry
If you’re looking for a cherry tomato with an extra-sweet flavor, Isis Candy Cherry is a great choice.
This variety was developed specifically for growing in areas with limited sunlight, so it’s perfectly suited to shady spots. The fruits have a bright red hue and can reach up to two inches across.
17. Juliet Hybrid
As far as heirloom tomatoes go, Juliet Hybrid is one of the most popular choices for shade gardens.
It’s known for its high yields and good disease resistance—not bad, considering this variety does best when grown partially in the shade!
The fruits themselves have excellent flavor, making them ideal for slicing and adding to sandwiches or salads.
Tomatoes grown in shade can be just as delicious as those grown in full sun!
All you need is some knowledge of which varieties grow best in shadier spots such as Black Cherry, Roma, Siberia, or Black Krim tomatoes.
With proper care such as providing adequate water and fertilizer throughout the summer months plus mulch and staking support when needed – you too can enjoy fresh homegrown tomatoes regardless of how much sunlight your garden gets!
So why not give these shade-loving varieties a try this year? You won’t be disappointed!
Cabbage is one example of a shade-tolerant plant. Other examples are spinach, lettuce, mushrooms (technically a fungus), kale, broccoli, and cauliflower.
If your garden doesn’t get enough sun, there are a few things you can do to make sure your plants get the light they need, such as moving your container plants to a sunnier spot or using effective materials to brighten up the area. You can also plant shade-loving plants.
If it’s very hot and dry outside, your tomato plants will need daily watering, but if it’s cool and wet, they’ll need less. Aim for an inch or two of water each week.
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).