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20 Fruit Trees That Grow In Shade [They Will Surprise You!]

Fruit trees that grow in shade! Many homesteaders think that if they want a fruit tree in their yard, they need a spacious and sunny space for the tree to spread its roots. 

But that’s not always the case! There are plenty of fruit trees that grow well in shady areas. Planting a fruit tree in a sun-deprived location can be advantageous, as it will protect the tree from direct sunlight. And wind!

So if you’re looking for fruit trees that grow in shady spots, check out some of these perfect options!

Which Fruit Trees Will Grow In Shade?

Many people believe that fruit trees need full sun to produce abundant fruit. However, several fruit trees will do quite well in partial – or even full-shade. The key is choosing trees suited to your particular climate and soil conditions. 

For example, in warmer climates, citrus trees can tolerate some shade. But in colder growing conditions, apple and pear trees may need full sun to produce a good crop. 

Other considerations include the number of leaves on the tree (deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter and may need more sun to produce fruit) and the type of fruit you want to grow (some fruits are more tolerant of shade than others). 

1. Peach Trees

delicious looking peaches in peach orchard
Peach trees require more sunlight than other fruits. But there are a few creative ways to help minimize shade. We read an excellent peach tree pruning guide on the PennState Extension that cites how pruning your peach tree is an excellent idea to help it get more sunlight. The article also advises removing lanky shoots that block the sun.

Peach trees need a lot of sunlight to produce fruit, so they are typically not planted in areas that receive less than six hours of direct sunlight per day. But some varieties of peach trees are more tolerant of partial shade than others. Dwarf peach trees are just one example. 

Usually, peaches grown in shadier conditions will be smaller and less flavorful than those grown in full sun. However, if you live in an area with limited sunlight, it is still possible to cultivate a peach tree by choosing a variety that is known to do well in partial shade. 

Some varieties worth a try:

  • Earli Grande
  • Elberta
  • Florida Prince

2. Cherry Trees

juicy red apples in permaculture forest
Black cherry trees deserve a top spot in our list of fruit trees that grow in the shade. Black cherries famously tolerate a wide array of growing conditions. We read from the Department of Horticulture on the University of Kentucky blog that black cherries don’t mind partial shade – but they will not tolerate full shade. We also read from the NC State Extension blog that Okame cherries can tolerate partial shade. Put Okame and black cherries at the top of your list!

While cherry trees prefer full sun, they can tolerate partial shade. The amount of shade they can adapt to varies depending on the variety of cherry trees. 

Some cherries, such as the Bing and Lapins, will produce fewer fruits if they don’t get at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. However, other cherries, such as the Cherokee and Black Tartarian, are more tolerant of shady conditions.

Read More!

3. Passionfruit Trees

ripe passion fruit hanging on the plant
Passion fruit is an underrated fruit vine that grows in the shade. We researched to find reliable information about how passion fruits behave without direct sunlight. We found a publication from California Rare Fruit Growers about passion fruit. One part that caught our attention was when the authors revealed how passion fruits prefer shade if the temperature gets too hot.

Passionfruit is a vine that produces an exotic fruit with sweet, juicy flesh. The vine typically grows in tropical and subtropical regions. And it requires full sun to produce healthy fruits. 

However, in some cases, the vine can tolerate partial shade. For example, if the temperature is tremendously hot and the sun is intense, the vine may appreciate some relief from the heat in the form of patchy shade.

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4. Kiwi Trees

yummy looking actinidia kolomikta kiwi on tree
Variegated hardy kiwi is an underrated fruit that grows in the shade. We found this hidden gem while researching perennial vines on the Iowa State University Extension website. The article cites how this kiwi vine grows in the shade. And they consider it among the hardiest Actinidia vine.

One of the best things about kiwi fruits is that they can be grown in diverse climates and conditions. Whether you live in the tropics or a more temperate region, there are likely kiwi types that will do well in your area. 

Kiwis can also tolerate shade, especially if it is not too dense. If you live in an area with hot summers, for example, it might be beneficial to plant your kiwis in an area that gets some afternoon shade. The occasional shade will help to protect the fruits from sunburn and will also help to keep the plants from drying out too quickly. 

5. Avocado Trees

One of my seed-grown avocado trees, in flower.

I’ve grown many avocadoes in full sun. Most failed. In the tropics and sub-tropics, the temperatures can get too hot for avocado trees. My personal experience is that they perform much better in a protected position. The foliage is greener, they flower more, and it is far easier to keep them well-watered.

I love growing avocadoes from seed. So much so that my neighbors regularly drop off ‘special’ avocadoes for me to grow! This has resulted in a huge variety of avocado trees – I have over 30! I now only grow them in partial to full shade. If you’re in a warm climate (say zone 8 and up), it’s worth trying an avocado tree in shade.

6. Meyer Lemon Trees

fresh looking yellow meyer lemons hanging on tree
Meyer lemons are another little-known fruit that grows in the shade. The North Carolina Plant Toolbox cites how Meyer lemons can survive with as little as two to six hours of direct sunlight daily. We also found a succulent Meyer lemon cheesecake recipe on the UCLA website. It looks perfect for a tasty fall snack.

While Meyer lemons can grow in full sun, they can also tolerate partial shade. Too much direct sunlight can cause the fruit to become overly acidic. If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to provide some afternoon shade for your Meyer lemon tree. 

Meyer lemons will likely produce fewer fruits when growing in the shade than when growing in full sun. However, the fruits that do mature will be just as tasty and fragrant as those grown in full sun. 

7. Pawpaw Trees

pawpaw fruit growing on tree
When researching fruit trees to grow in the shade, we found an excellent article about fruit trees on the MSU Extension blog. The fruit tree article cites pawpaw fruit trees as one of the few shade-tolerating fruit trees. So if you’re planning an orchard with partial shade? We recommend pawpaw fruit trees!

Pawpaws typically grow in full sun. But they can also tolerate partial shade. Young trees often benefit from some protection from the sun, as this can help prevent leaf scorch. 

However, once established, pawpaws need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to produce a good fruit crop. 

8. Malabar Chestnut or Saba Nut (Pachira sp.)

I adore my saba nut! From its umbrella shape to its giant fruits packed with delicious nuts, this tree is a great performer all-round. The best thing about the Malabar chestnut is its adaptability. It will tolerate droughts (once established) and floods, and a range of soil conditions.

It is surprisingly easy to grow!

The nuts inside the shell are delicious – I would describe them as an almond, but tastier. And bigger! I like to eat them straight from the tree, but they’re also excellent roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and salt.

Finally – don’t forget pesto!

Pine nuts are some of the most expensive nuts to buy. Grow a Pachira and you’ll never have to buy pine nuts for pesto ever again!

9. Pear Trees

delicious looking pears growing in summer in tuscany italy
Pears are another excellent fruit tree that can grow in the shade. Most of our homesteading friends swear that pears need more than six hours of daily sunlight. However, we studied from an excellent pear guide on the Clemson Cooperative Extension blog about Bradford pears – and we loved what we discovered! Bradford pears are our favorite for shady yards as they tolerate partial shade. They’re also surprisingly hardy – and manage wildly varying soil conditions.

Many fruit trees require full sun to produce a large crop, but pear trees are surprisingly tolerant of shade. They will often bear more fruit if they receive some protection from the midday sun. 

While pear trees will grow in partial shade, they will bear the best fruit when they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

10. Plum Trees

lovely chickasaw plums growing in florida
We love growing plums! We use them to make boatloads of delicious mouth-watering plum cobbler! We also learned on the University of Florida Extension blog that Chickasaw plum trees are perfect for growing in partial afternoon shade. So if you want a plum cultivar for a shady backyard? Choose Chickasaw plums!

While most fruit trees need full sun to produce a bountiful crop, plum trees are slightly more tolerant of shade. Too much sun can diminish the fruit, leading to sunburn or other damage. If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to plant your plum tree in a spot that gets some relief from the afternoon sun. 

I grow a plum variety called ‘Gulf Gold’. So far, it’s growing and fruiting well in partial shade!

11. Fig Trees

deep purple figs growing on tree
Figs make it super easy for busy homesteaders to get their fill of fiber and potassium. But do they grow in the shade? Or not?! Here’s what we found. The NC State Extension cites how fig trees tolerate partial shade or full sun. But – we also read about fig trees on the Texas A&M Extension. One of their fig tree guides says to expect measlier fig production if you don’t offer full sunlight. Considering both sources, we believe that partial sunlight is acceptable for figs. But – of course, more sun is better.

While fig trees typically prefer full sun, they can also tolerate partial shade. Some fig cultivars grown in hot climates produce sweeter fruit if grown in partial shade. However, if a fig tree does not receive enough sunlight, it may produce smaller fruits with fewer seeds. In addition, the tree itself may be smaller and less vigorous.

I live in a hot climate and my fig trees most certainly prefer protection from the afternoon sun. The tropics aren’t ideal for a fig and partial shade can help you grow these delicious fruits in a hot climate.

12. Loquat Trees

ripe loquat fruits growing on tree
Everyone thinks of cherries or pawpaws when brainstorming fruit trees that grow in the shade. But everyone forgets about loquats! After extensive research, we found several sources citing that loquats grow in partial shade. (Including the University of Florida Extension and the Clemson University Coop Extension.)

Loquat trees are native to China and Japan. They have gotten cultivated for centuries!

Loquat trees need at least four hours of sunlight daily, but they will tolerate partial shade. If you live in an area with hot summers, we advise planting the tree in a spot that gets afternoon shade.

13. Ginger

My turmeric plant (Curcuma longa)

I suppose you may not call ginger a fruit tree as such. However, since we’re talking ‘fruit’ – I couldn’t leave ginger out. Many, if not all, varieties of ginger (and there are many!) will grow exceptionally well in shade. In fact, most prefer it!

From the tasty lemony fruits of Alpinia to the well-known flavor-packed rhizomes of Zingiber officinalis – a ginger will thrive in the shady spots in your garden.

14. Pomegranate Trees

juicy pomegranate fruits on tree
When discussing fruit trees that grow in the shade, all of our friends forget about pomegranates! We researched to find a reliable source about growing pomegranate trees in a shaded area. We stumbled upon an excellent pomegranate guide on the Utah University Yard and Garden Extension. The article states that pomegranates can tolerate partial shade. However, we also learned from the article that pomegranate fruits grown in partial shade don’t taste as flavorful as full-sun-grown pomegranates. (As always, more sun is usually better!)

While pomegranates will tolerate some shade, they will not produce as much fruit if not exposed to full sun. It is best to plant pomegranates in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Plenty of sunshine helps ensure a bountiful pomegranate crop!

15. Papaya Trees

juicy papaya fruit growing on trees
Of all the fruit trees that grow in shady spots, we think papaya enjoys sunlight the most! However, while researching papaya trees on the AgriLife Texas A&M Extension blog, we found an interesting tidbit about papayas. The article cites that papayas love growing in full sun. The only exception is if you must protect it from cold weather or wind. In general, though, the more sunlight your papaya tree gets – the better.

While papaya trees require full sun to produce fruit, they will tolerate some shade. Young papaya trees benefit from being sheltered from the hot midday sun. 

Once the tree has matured, it will need to be in full sun to produce fruit. 

16. Guava Trees

guava tree growing in an orchard
Guava tree fruit produces a taste-tantalizing flavor that mixes perfectly into homemade fruit salad or smoothies. We also researched high and low to verify that these fruit trees grow in the shade. We found excellent guava growing advice on the Arizona State University website that says how guava tolerates partial sun. We’ve also read from several sources that some guava cultivars are invasive to rainforests and forests. So – plant with caution!

Guava trees are native to tropical regions and typically prefer full sun. However, they can tolerate some shade, especially when young. Young guava trees may even need some protection from the harsh midday sun to prevent leaf scorch. 

17. Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

This tree isn’t well-known for its fruits. Most people know it as an exceptional indoor plant. However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, Monstera will produce delicious fruits! I’d describe them as a tropical flavor explosion – hints of pineapple, mango, and citrus – all combined in a huge, 12″ long, very interesting-looking fruit.

My Fruit Salad Plant is growing up the trunk of a mango tree – in almost full shade. Not only does it look exceptionally tropical in the garden with its huge leaves, if you ever get the chance to try the fruit – you’ll be blown away!

18. Citrus Trees

growing tangerines in fruit orchard
Citrus trees are some of our favorites for a breathtaking and delicious fruit orchard! Most citrus trees indeed prefer full sun. But – we found a fascinating talking point when reading the Texas A&M Extension (AgriLife) blog. An article of theirs offers that it might be wise to grow your potted citrus trees in partial shade. That way – your citrus tree acclimates to shady conditions and won’t panic if you need to bring it indoors during cold seasons. We like their idea – and thought it was a genius growing strategy!

While most citrus trees require full sun to produce fruit, there are a few options that will grow and produce fruit in partial shade. 

The Satsuma mandarin is one such variety. Satsuma mandarins are native to Japan and have been grown there for centuries. They are smaller than other types of mandarins, with loose skin that is easy to peel. Satsumas also have seedless flesh that is sweet and moist. 

19. Barbados or Acerola Cherry (Malpighia glabra)

The Barbados Cherry is one of my best-producing fruit trees. My tree is almost in full shade. A 100-year old mango tree blocks all the morning sun, and a mulberry blocks the afternoon sun. It gets some sun in the middle of the day.

Despite these conditions, this fruit tree started to produce fruit in its first year. It has continued to provide a great harvest! These little flavor bombs are packed with vitamin C and they’re very refreshing on a hot day. An explosion of sweet and sour!

20. Apple Trees

organic fresh apples growing on tree
Apples are our favorite fruit trees to grow in the shade. Or anywhere! But – how do apple trees perform in the shade? Exactly? We read from the NC Extension blog that apple trees tolerate partial shade. However, we find that most apple tree cultivars require at least six hours of sunlight to produce ample fruit. So – we wouldn’t advise growing apple trees in the partial shade unless it gets at least six hours of sun. We also read another apple article from the Utah State Extension blog stating that apple trees growing in shady spots may experience delayed ripening and blooming. So – make no mistake. The more sunlight your apple tree gets – the better!

Apple trees require adequate sunlight to produce fruit, so it is unlikely that they will thrive in a shaded area. However, a few varieties of apple trees are more tolerant of shade than others. 

A few examples are:

  • Cox Orange Pippin
  • McIntosh
  • Berner Rose
  • Anna

How Many Hours of Sun Do Fruit Trees Need?

Most fruit tree varieties need at least six hours of direct sunlight daily for healthy fruit production. The more sunlight, the better – because sunlight helps the tree to produce food through photosynthesis. 

Additionally, adequate sunlight (usually) helps to promote good airflow around the tree, which helps to prevent diseases. Of course, there are some exceptions to that rule – as evidenced by the list of shade-tolerant fruit trees above!

Final Thoughts

Shade-grown fruit trees are a great way to get started in permaculture. Not only do they provide food, but they also offer habitats for beneficial insects and other wildlife. In addition, shade-grown fruit trees can help reduce the energy needed to cool your home or business in the summertime. (Hopefully – the trees offer some shade on their own!)

If you’re interested in planting some fruit trees this spring, consider using shady areas on your property to maximize production. 

We also welcome your feedback regarding which fruit trees grow in the shade. What experience do you have growing fruit trees without much sunlight?

We would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks again for reading.

And have a great day!

Author

  • Rebekah Pierce

    Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.

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