Shade tolerant tomatoes?

jdub123(7)January 22, 2011

Does anyone know of any shade tolerant tomatoes?

We are in a wooded area and get about 4 hours of direct sun in midday. We only got a few small tomatoes last year. All the varieties of tomatoes I have found show "full sun".

Any ideas of which varieties might give us more yield?

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sprtsguy76(Santa Clara Ca. 9b)

There is no such thing as shade tolerant tomatoes that I know of. The more full sun the better for any variety. That said even 4 hours of direct sun should give you some what of a harvest. Can you chop down some trees?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:35PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

I have grown Carmello quite well on a deck with a 50% lattice roof overhead. Not ideal, but it was relatively good in productivity and taste.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:32PM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

I battled this, until I went the tree chopping route and still have some shade from a neighbor's trees. My suggestion is to go for varieties that promise gangbuster productivity - which seem to tend to be smaller sized fruits. Then when you get say 1/2 normal production, you get half of a big crop as opposed to say planting a Brandywine and getting NOTHING! (Can you tell I tried that one my first year?)
So cherry tomatoes, saladettes, Roma types. Those will give you more fruit that waiting for one or two big beefsteaks.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 1:40PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I have a very shady lot. Any area that has any bit of sun I throw in a tomato plant. So, SERIOUSLY - I have a bed of impatiens (shade loving flower) the other half of the bed that gets SOME sun I have tomatoes. There are a few spots along a fence that I grow begonias/impatiens and where I get a little more sun I throw in a plant. It isn't the most ATTRACTIVE but it gets the job done. Thankfully I have ONE spot in the middle of the driveway that I ripped out bushes and put a garden in... When your passionate about tomatoes you'll do just about anything, I think.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Theoretically, since sunlight is pretty direct/strong in the south, you should be less worried about finding the spots with the least filtered sunlight and look for the spots that get the most hours of filtered sunlight.

A spot that gets 8 hours/day of dappled shade is better than one with 3 hours/day of full sun but then full shade the rest of the day.

Now, this is book learnin' (and not experience) talking, since I've always put my tomatoes in sunny spots. But, rnewste's response seems to corroborate my reasoning here.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:38AM
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Sun is better, but I've had moderate success with tomatoes in the dappled sunlight of my backyard, but only in late spring when the days are longer and the sunlight more intense. Around June they all died, I think from root-knot nematodes, exacerbated by humidity and consistent nighttime temperatures above 80 degrees. I imagine summer conditions in Atlanta are less hostile than Southwest Florida, though. Now - early Oct. - I have tomatoes in my backyard and in my tiny side yard, where I get good southern exposure. I started seeds -marglobe, homestead and romanesco - at the same time in August, and planted seedlings first in the back and a week or two later in pots in the side yard. All look very healthy (I didn't replant where the nematode problem was), but the one's that get more sunlight are about four times as large. I read recently that small-fruited tomatoes, such as grape, cherry and roma varieties, tolerate lower sunlight better than larger varieties. If you have a sunnier spot, I would recommended a potted tomato there, and perhaps you could grow lettuce, arugula, collards and other leafy greens in the shadier locations.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 9:54AM
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I guess you could try the hybrid 'Shady Lady'. It's supposed to do well under difficult conditions.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 12:52AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Becky's Sunless comes to mind
Only variety that needs no sun at all

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 1:27AM
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I grow in partial shade all year--or as long as I can. Even use shade cloth in some areas. I love the taste of my OPs, but Celebrity will tolerate almost anything.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:23AM
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I think the name "Shady Lady" refers to a very heavy leaf canopy for shading the fruit in hot climates, not its ability to produce fruit in shady conditions. Linda

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:31PM
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I get ~6 hrs and over the years have learned to put the biggest plants in the ground as soon as possible. This means I plant from seed cause it is hard/impossible to find 3 ft plants in early April. My approach is: start seeds New Years day, put in ground on April 15th in a cloche, ripe tomatoes 4th of July.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 7:31PM
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In the book The Resilient Gardener the recommendations for best flavor & ripening in part sun conditions & cool summer climate were Stupice and Amish Paste.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 10:57PM
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Try Stupice, the plant in my shadier garden has about the same production as the one I have in full sun. It just ripens about a week later.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:14PM
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There are two 'Shady Lady' tomatoes. One is the hybrid which is discussed above. The other is from Australia and is indeed selected for ability to mature fruit in partial shade.

Some of the above suggestions should have given hints of the way to grow in shade. The trick is to pick short season highly productive varieties. Most cherry tomatoes will work. Most of the extra early varieties such as Siberian, Stupice, Bloody Butcher, Kimberly, etc. will also mature fruit under less than ideal conditions. I have grown most of the available early varieties and personally prefer Kimberly and Bloody Butcher for flavor. Eva Purple Ball is another variety that can do pretty well under partial shade.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 1:30AM
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I threw a golf ball sized tomato from Krogers into my compost area last summer....discovered the big grown plant in late fall with big handfuls of fruit on it.

My compost area is in full dense shade. I think that the smaller varieties grow ok, so so in shade...they will produce more fruit in the sun.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:44PM
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I grow Sun Gold tomatoes in my shade. They don't come out sweet like they would if they were sun kissed. But I can get enough for a salad each week. And I don't pinch them I just let them grow up our porch railing for 6'-8'. Right now my Sun Gold is looking healthy despite all the rain we've had. It's had some green tomatoes on it for some weeks that aren't even close to ripe. But it's healthy and even if something happens to some of those fruits, the plant will have 30 more in the pipeline willing to grow in the shade.
The other posters are correct. Smaller is better. I've tried other normal sized tomatoes where I'd wait weeks and weeks for 1 tomato to ripen and then always something would happen(blossom end rot, pests or uneven ripening).

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 1:31PM
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I looked for shade tolerant tomatoes for my sister who has an apartment, oddly enough I found that when I went to my local nursery the compact tomato labelled "Patio" listed it's sunlight requirement as part shade, which I also confirmed on some other sites.

It's not exactly a huge yielding indeterminate, but it is a really small dwarf habit (and larger fruited) plant that seems to do well in lower light.

As far as another tomato worth trying, it seems, past experience, Opalka seems to do well in lower light environments (less than the ideal minimum of 6 hours). In my garden which gets light pretty much from sun up to sundown, I grow Opalka in a spot where it gets a little more shade, and I've found it does better there. To back up this idea that it does better in lower light, Opalka is the only larger fruited tomato that does well in my father's garden where he only gets 4-5 hours of direct sun. We found this through trial and error in attempting to get him a variety that did well for his space. Now all he wants to grow is a few Rutgers, 1 Cherry, and a ton of Opalkas, heh.

As an aside, Opalka (if it does well for you) is fairly productive, good as a fresh eating tomato and for sauce; Just an overall good variety.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 2:56PM
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I have shaddy garden that only gets 4-5 hours of sunshine, I would like to know which would do better, I have been reading the articles to see which ones would do better,All I have tried don't ripen well, the cherry tomatoes seem to do the best, but I would like a little larger tomato can someone help.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 2:33PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I am pretty sure, the reason for NOT getting fruits (OP's case) is not just the lack of direct sun. There must be other factors: NUMBER ONE: soil and nutrients. Four (4) hours direct sun in Atlanta (Zone 7) is not whole lot but you can grow pretty decent tomatoes. Down south a lot of gardeners actually shade their tomatoes. I have grown tomatoes in North Atlanta (Alpharetta). Some in partial shade/sun (about 4 to 5 hours). Now back here in PNW, I get about 4.5 to 5 hours direct sun.. Remember that Direct Sun is not the only light that plants get for their photosynthesis. Indirect, defused lights also count as LIGHT

I believe tomatoes are partial shade plants. In other words, they don't need more than 6 -7 hours max. The excess direct sun is actually not beneficial.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:57PM
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