I have very big trees in my garden that covers 85% of the sunlight. I'm in Asia with temperatures around 30 °C. It's dry most of the year and the soil is pretty hard.

What food crops should I plant under the shelter?


2 Answers 2


If you check the area where you want to plant, you will be able to see what plants are already growing in these conditions, and that will inform you as to what sort of plants you might be able to grow.

But generally, in low light conditions, you need to plant things for their edible leaves, and roots. And you'll need access to water.


There are fruiting/flowering plants that thrive in the shade but to make flowers and fruit you gotta have sun. Blueberries for example will thrive in partial shade and have some flower/fruit. In the sun, you'd get considerably more lush growth and berries from the same plants. Strawberries if they get a few hours of decent light per day might produce a few berries. Less light means fewer flowers which means fewer pollinators and fewer fruits/nuts/seeds.

In the shade the plant can't support the extra vegetative growth as photosynthesis is hampered, the growth becomes thinner and larger trying to get enough sun to compensate. Even if the plant is able to thrive in low light conditions it doesn't mean there is enough energy to make flowers and fruit.

I'd focus on the sunniest, best soil to produce a garden. The soil beneath large trees is chemically starved as the tree has sequestered the necessary chemicals within its own foliage and roots. All forests and virgin environments exhibit this soil depletion. All the chemicals that need replenishing within the plant are all tied up in the plant material. Until death of leaves, branches, fruit releases these chemicals back to the soil. Only to be sucked up or utilized immediately.

Cultivated vegetable plants like tomatoes, peas, beans...might not produce a single fruit. The soil beneath mature trees is thin, depleted as well combined with poor light, energy sources. Piling soil on top of the surface of the soil beneath your tree will compromise your tree unnecessarily. You'd have to install weather proof grow lights. You would have better luck growing vegetables in pots on a sunny porch! And more fun...Plant leafy plants with leafy plants that need and do well with higher Nitrogen. Grasses (orange sedge) mixed with Rainbow chard, Ipomoea (sweet potato vine) chartreuse and/or purple black, cabbages, kale! Butternut lettuce would be excellent as a beautiful grouping with similar needs (water, sun, fert). Grouping and making sure the pots are similar make more space available in 3-D. Another grouping type; blueberry shrub, strawberries, any color of potato (love more acidic soil)...see what I mean?

  • maybe I misunderstood the question, but I think you are off the question. On hot-dry place, I don't think blueberries and strawberries are the most useful plants. And BTW the tomatoes grow (better) in shadow, but I'm not sure what kind of shadows we are discussing in this question. Dec 12, 2016 at 13:47
  • Giacomo, you are kidding about tomatoes growing better in shade, yes??? I was simply giving him the facts about growing in the shade beneath a large tree. Blueberries and strawberries...do well in a bit of shade. Still have to have sun. That was my point. Plants need light with which to make fruit/seed, heat is nice if it isn't over 90 degrees F. I was totally trying to help see that planting vegies under established trees is just not going to work. So I gave him the pots, controlled soils, sun, water, drainage...that look nice as well. Isn't 30 degrees C the same as 86 degrees F?
    – stormy
    Dec 12, 2016 at 22:01
  • I'm not kidding. Think about the plant, it is a vine, so it climbs under the trees (or I expect something like this, on natural environment). On my region, the tomato greenhouse are covered in summer, because temperature (still greenhouse) but shadows seems not to give much problems (still not dark shadow). For high temperature I trust you, I'm not so an expert. Dec 13, 2016 at 7:00
  • For temperature, yes you are right, but U.S. temperatures are in any case strange for us. It is very continental, so if temperatures are around 30°C (86°F), I'll expect they will not go down to 10°C (50°F) or maybe neither 20°C (68°F). But I don't know all climate of Asia. Dec 13, 2016 at 7:07
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi What you say about tomatos does not make much sense to me - I know for sure that for eggplants, [same family, even ones grafted onto tomato root stock] 1% more light = 1% more growth - I wonder if the issue is one of mid-day heat in hot areas - I understand that nightshades don't like temperatures above 35c or so.
    – davidgo
    Dec 19, 2016 at 0:04

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