Most vegetables grow best in full sun, though some tolerate partially shaded conditions. Full sun means at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. It doesn't mean the sun must be shining for those six hours, because on some days it's cloudy. But there should be no shade on the plants from trees, walls, buildings or anything else for six or more hours each day. Also, the six hours don't have to be continuous. The veggie patch might receive three hours' direct light in the early morning, shade at midday and then three hours of light in the afternoon.
Vegetables that grow best in full sun include fruiting vegetables, beans, squash and root vegetables.
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), eggplant (Solanum melongena) and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) grow best in full sun. Tomato plants grow 3 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, and provide red, yellow and orange summer fruit in a range of sizes and shapes, depending on the variety. Eggplant bears purple, violet, white, yellow, red or green fruit, and grows 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Tomato and eggplant are perennial plants usually grown as annuals. Tomato is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, and eggplant is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 12.
Okra is an annual vegetable that grows 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. Yellow, pink, orange-red or red flowers 2 to 3 inches wide appear on okra plants throughout the growing season, followed by hairy green fruits.
Bush and Pole Beans
Bush beans and pole beans are varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris. Both types of bean produce their best crops in sunny spots. Bush beans and pole beans are annual plants. Bush beans are also called haricot beans, French beans and filet beans, and the plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, according to the variety. Pole beans grow 5 to 10 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Both bush and pole beans tolerate growing in partially shaded areas, but the size of the crop will be reduced.
Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) and winter squash (Cucurbita maxima) are annual vegetables that thrive in full sun. Summer squash includes varieties such as zucchini (Cucurbita pepo var. cylindrica), scallop (Cucurbita pepo var. clypeata) and vegetable marrow (Cucurbita pepo var. fastigata). Summer squash matures after 50 days.
Winter squash includes orange, blue, gray, pale green and multicolored pumpkins in a range of sizes and shapes. Winter squash matures in about 120 days, and harvesting takes place in fall.
Most root vegetables grow well in full-sun vegetable patches, including the annual vegetables carrots (Daucus carota var. sativus), radish (Raphanus sativus) and rutabaga (Brassica napus Napobrassica Group). Carrots grow 1/4 to 3 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety. Radish varieties include plants that grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide, and their roots grow 1/2 to 2 feet long. Rutabaga grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 3/4 to 1 foot wide.