Skip to Content

How Much Sun And Shade Can Berries Tolerate? A Complete Guide

Growing berries in our backyard homestead has been one of my all-time favorite things to grow. I love being able to go out and pick fresh berries for my breakfast. Even so, it’s important to know how much sun (or shade) each type of berry wants so that it can grow the best, most delicious fruit possible.

Most berries require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day, with some berry varieties tolerating shade better than others. The most commonly grown berry types require full sun, which is 6-8 hours (or more) of direct sunlight per day.

BerryLight Needs to ThriveNotes on Light Requirements
BlackberryPartial shade to full sun
BlueberryFull sunSome lowbush blueberries can handle partial shade.
BoysenberryFull sun
CranberryFull sunAvoid planting facing south
CurrantPartial to moderate shadeFull sun will burn the berries
ElderberryPartial shade
Goji BerryFull sunCan tolerate partial shade
GooseberryFull sun
GrapesFull SunNeeds 7+ hours of sunlight
HuckleberryPartial shadeCan survive in full shade
LoganberryFull sunCan survive in partial shade
MulberryFull sunDoes well growing between trees
KiwiPartial sun to full sunPrefers partial shade
RaspberryFull sun to partial shade
SalmonberryPartial shade to full sunPrefers some shade
StrawberryPart shade to full sunSome varieties need more shade
TayberryFull sun

Sun is an important component of any plants’ livelihood, but did you know there are berries that would prefer the shade instead? Planting tips and guides often suggest a certain minimum amount of sun time. However, you’ll be surprised as to how many berry plants need a fixed time in the shade. 

There are various fruit-bearing shade plants, but most of them are of the berry kind. If you have a shade garden, berry plants are a good option to grow. The question is: just how much sun and shade can berry plants tolerate? Keep reading to find out all you need to know about berry plants and their sun and shade tolerance. 

image of berries like strawberry, blueberry, cranberry and raspberry on a small square bowl on top of a white painted wooden table. There are scatted berries to at the table with strawberry leaves and blue kitchen towel

How Much Sun Do Berries Need to Grow?

Most types of berries grown by backyard homesteaders require full sun (6-8 hours of direct sunlight), though many may also do just fine in partial shade (4-6 hours of direct sunlight).

Most fruits and vegetables require around six to eight hours of sun each day. Different types of berries will need a particular amount of sunlight to flourish. This ranges from full sun to partial sun, and the spectrum that your berry plant falls under will depend on the species.

How Much Shade Can Berries Tolerate?

Most berries can do fine with some shade, as long as they get at least 4 hours of sunlight. Some berries need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight, though. And a few types of berries require shade to avoid the fruit from being scalded or burned.

It’s no secret that fruit plants love the sun – it’s a vital part of their system. Certain berry plants actually don’t need direct sunshine and would rather grow under shade. Depending on the species, they can withstand hours of shade on end. Shade tolerances range from partial shade to full shade.

How To Define Measurements of Sun & Shade

Now, so many people use the terms “full sun” and “partial shade,” but let’s talk about what those actually mean.

TermHours of light
Full sun6-8 hours starting from early or mid-morning
Partial sunMax of 4-6 hours of sun
Partial shadeA max of 2-4 hours of sunlight per day
Full shadeLess than 2 hours of direct sunlight daily

What is full sun?

If a plant requires full sun to grow, it means that it needs at least six solid hours. For the plant to thrive in full sun, it will need a spot that gets lots of sunshine each day. While sunlight is present for the majority of the day, the periods should begin from early or mid-morning.

What is partial sun?

Some plants won’t actually need that much sun. Partial sun is around four to six hours of sun, with the rest of the day being in the shade.  

What is partial shade?

Partial shade refers to sun exposure of two to four hours a day. Certain berry plants and mushrooms are edibles that thrive in deep shade.

What is full shade?

You may be surprised to learn that there are even fruits and vegetables that grow in virtually no sun. Edibles that grow and produce in full shade means that they receive less than two hours of direct sun.

If you’ve got several trees and you plant things below the trees, this would probably be considered full shade – as your trees are shading the plants below them pretty much all day long.

image of ripe and unripe strawberries

What Berries Grow in Full Sun?

In reality, most berries can grow in more than one condition. While some berries thrive in one climate, they can still grow in another (although not as efficiently). Not all berries require a specific amount of sun or shade, but each plant has its preference. The berries that thrive in full sun are blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, tayberries, mulberries, loganberries, grapes, salmonberries, boysenberries, cranberries, and gooseberries.

What Berries Grow in Partial Sun (or Partial Shade)?

It’s evident that most fruits from the berry category flourish under full sun, there are a few that would prefer the best of both worlds. These berries are strawberries, raspberries, currants, huckleberries, kiwis, and elderberries.

Want to read more about if raspberries will grow in the shade? I’ve got a whole article about them here for you. Give it a read next – I’ve learned a ton about growing raspberries in various areas with differing amounts of light.

What Berries Grow in Full Shade?

Most berries are happier to grow with either full sun or partial sun and shade. But the huckleberry plant is one that can survive in full shade to produce its fruits. Although it can live in full shade, it can also tolerate partial shade.

Other Factors for Shade Tolerance

Shade exposure differs on the bearing. For instance, part shade is usually found on a north-facing slope, or on the north side of a building, as it is shadier than if it were a southern exposure.

Ambient light can also make a difference. For example, a garden with a single big tree is not as shady as an area that has numerous trees, shrubbery, or even buildings around it.

Density of a tree canopy can also vary the shade that a plant underneath it receives. Pine trees have slender needles with a branching pattern that holds foliage at the top of the tree. On the other hand, a broadleaf tree has low spreading branches, which can cast more shade.

When & Where to Plant Berry Trees

If you have a shaded area in the garden, consider planting a berry plant. Many berries thrive in the shade. However, they will produce even better if they have at least partial sun. Berries and other small fruits don’t usually require as much spaces as full-sized fruit trees.

For instance, blueberry plant may grow up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide. While this seems big, it’s smaller in comparison to other fruit trees.

Now, if you don’t like the idea of a giant blueberry bush that’s 12 feet tall, there are dwarf and miniature varieties, too. We’ve got a blueberry bush that’s only a few feet tall – as it’s a hybrid designed for being potted.

Deciding when to plant berries? Early spring is generally best if you’re located in North America. Also ensure that the soil conditions are optimum. Berry plants aren’t usually fussy and will grow perfectly in an average, well-drained garden soil with a lot of sun.

Planting or moving raspberry canes? Make sure you give this article I wrote on planting and moving raspberry canes next. It’ll walk you through the whole process.

image of berries like strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, blackberry and raspberry on a small square light blue bowl on top of a wooden table and with pieces of cranberry at the table in a green garden background

Popular Berries & Their Growing Conditions

Take a look at what type of shade and requirements different berries will need to grow. But here’s that table from earlier again for quick reference, too.

BerryLight Needs to ThriveNotes on Light Requirements
BlackberryPartial shade to full sun
BlueberryFull sunSome lowbush blueberries can handle partial shade.
BoysenberryFull sun
CranberryFull sunAvoid planting facing south
CurrantPartial to moderate shadeFull sun will burn the berries
ElderberryPartial shade
Goji BerryFull sunCan tolerate partial shade
GooseberryFull sun
GrapesFull SunNeeds 7+ hours of sunlight
HuckleberryPartial shadeCan survive in full shade
LoganberryFull sunCan survive in partial shade
MulberryFull sunDoes well growing between trees
KiwiPartial sun to full sunPrefers partial shade
RaspberryFull sun to partial shade
SalmonberryPartial shade to full sunPrefers some shade
StrawberryPart shade to full sunSome varieties need more shade
TayberryFull sun

Blackberry

Thrives in full sun to part shade. Blackberries are surprisingly low maintenance and will produce fruits with ease. However, they may need to be supported on canes to ensure they are secure to the ground.

Blueberry

Survives in partial shade, thrives in full sun. In general, blueberries will need full sun. Certain blueberries, such as lowbush ones, can tolerate light shade. Apart from shade tolerance, blueberries are also extremely tolerant to the cold.

Boysenberry

Thrives in full sun. A hybrid of blackberry, raspberry, loganberry, and dewberry, the boysenberry is a popular pie filling thanks to its large purple berries. In addition to requiring six to eight hours of sunlight, boysenberry plants will thrive in an organically-rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.

Cranberry

Thrives in full sun. Apart from needing full sun, the cranberry plant thrives in moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil. Cranberries also require fresh water supply and acidic peaty soil. Make sure to plant it in a spot that doesn’t get too hot and avoid a south-facing location.

Currant

Thrives in part shade. Both black and red currants will enjoy partial to moderate shade. Try not to plant them in full sun, as it will feel scalded. However, it will need more sun if you’re growing the plant for its fruit. Once ripened, get ready to make currant jelly for breakfast!

Elderberry

Thrives in partial shade. Once the elderflower blooms, it produces purple, luscious berries that are often used to make wine and preserves. The plant itself is adaptable and will grow in most soil types, including wet soils.

Goji Berry

Thrives in full sun, tolerates partial shade. Easy to grow from seed and cuttings, goji berries are resilient to animal and insect damage. If you’re running out of garden space, goji berries make for a suitable fruit to grow on the edges of your garden. Keep in mind they form viney bushes, which may require a trellis to support them.

Gooseberry

Thrives in full sun. Gooseberries are popular to plant in Europe, with many of its waist-high shrubs found in the shade of their fruit trees. The sweet-tart flavor of gooseberry has a resemblance to currants – as they are a related species – and its texture pops in your mouth. A gooseberry plant is not fussy about its soil, requiring no pruning, but will prefer moist, well-drained, and fertile soil. You may need to mulch them to avoid weed competition.

image of grapes hanging on its branch on a sunny day

Grapes

Thrives in full sun. As producing fruit takes a lot of energy, the grapevine requires sunlight to help it recharge. Depending on how much sun the grapevine receives, the taste of the grapes will change as they ripen. Most grapevines get around seven hours of sunshine to ensure all sides of the plant gets some sun (source).

Huckleberry

Survives in full shade, thrives in part shade. Huckleberries are one of the few edibles that can grow in full shade. A huckleberry shrub is often head-high and its fruit taste similar to blueberries. Numerous native huckleberry species can be found throughout North America, so check your local nursery for the best-suited species to plant in your garden.

Kiwi

Thrives in part shade or part sun. Kiwis, particularly hardy kiwi, can be grown in partial shade. In fact, they prefer it. Make sure to provide the kiwi plant with a trellis for support, as well as some partial sun every now and then.

Loganberry

Survives in partial shade, thrives in full sun. Similar to blackberries, loganberries prefer full sun to grow. A thornless cross between raspberries and blackberries, a 2-inch berry from an established plant can weigh up to 12 pounds!

Mulberry

Thrives in full sun. For ideal growing conditions, mulberry trees should be planted between trees and in warm, well-draining soil. If you can help it, try not to plant in heavy foot traffic areas, as the fruit stains easily. Mulberries have been said not to travel well, so they’re best when grown at home.

Raspberry

Thrives in full sun to partial shade. Raspberries are a popular choice to grow and will tolerate partial shade. They also establish quite quickly and will produce fruits year after year. As raspberries, and other berries, are also known as brambles, which are the easiest of all backyard fruits. Brambles can get out of control fast, with roots that send up shoots or canes, and tend to live for just two years.

However, most say the flavor of these berries make it worthwhile. And I’m definitely in that group!

In any case, you can read more about raspberry light requirements in this article I wrote here: Can Raspberry Bushes Grow in the Shade?

Salmonberry

Thrives in full sun to partial shade. Did you know salmonberry bushes can grow up to 6 feet tall and wide? While they will grow in full sun, they should be planted in a shadier spot in the garden. The raspberry-like berries are soft and dry to eat, and its flowers attract hummingbirds and bees.

Strawberry

Thrives in part shade to full sun. Strawberries are the most common and popular fruit that you can find in a home garden. This is due to their low maintenance and very rewarding crops. However, unlike blueberries, raspberries, and currants, strawberry plants don’t live as long. A single strawberry plant is generally at its peak production for only one to three years. Most strawberries like the full sun, but particular species of the fruit, like alpine strawberries, can thrive in partial shade.

Tayberry

Thrives in full sun. While tayberries are not as common in the US as it is in the UK, its berries are aromatic and flavorful. Named after the River Tay in Scotland, tayberries are a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. Don’t forget to protect it from the severe cold weather by mulching its roots.

image of ripe an d unripe blueberries on a sunny day at the farm

How Do You Manage Shade Fruits?

Plants in shaded areas can be more susceptible to disease, as it stays wet longer. By spacing the plants apart from each other, you will allow for more air movement to dry them faster. If your berry plants are under a big tree, you can also try pruning out the lower tree branches to increase the amount of light that comes through. Before you even start planting, make sure to check that the area actually receives the optimum sunshine that your plant needs.

Final Thoughts on Berries and Sunlight

Remember that not all berry plants have the same requirements in terms of the amount of sun and shade. Make sure to check whether your berry fruits prefer to live under full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or full shade before you start planting. While this may be an extra thing to consider in your plant’s growth, the efforts will be worth it once you get to use the delicious fruits of your harvest.

Having berries as part of your homestead will help you enjoy life just that bit more – whether you enjoy making jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, freeze-drying them, dehydrating them, canning them, eating the berries fresh, or some mix of all of the above.

Now, if you want to know the best way to store your berries? Definitely can them as jellies, preserves, jams, and syrups. But then I’d also recommend you do one other thing.

This site uses referral links from advertising partners. As an Amazon Associate, I can earn from qualifying purchases.

Make sure that you invest in a freeze dryer for storing those delicious berries for however long you want to. Freeze-dried berries (grown in any light levels) can store for years – and they reconstitute just as delicious as when they were fresh. We use and recommend the Harvest Right freeze dryer – which you can check out via that link.

Cite this article as: “How Much Sun And Shade Can Berries Tolerate? A Complete Guide.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 20 July 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-much-sun-and-shade-can-berries-tolerate-a-complete-guide/.

Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders. 🙂

  • “Backyard Berries.” Gardeners Supply Company, https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/backyard-berries/7250.html
  • “So Shady: 10 Crops That Can Be Grown Without a Lot of Sun.” Modern Farmer, https://modernfarmer.com/2016/07/shade-plants/
  • “40 Brilliant Berries To Grow In Your Garden.” Misfit Gardening, https://misfitgardening.com/40-berries-to-grow-in-your-garden/
  • “How to grow Tayberries.” Pyracantha, https://www.pyracantha.co.uk/how-to-grow-tayberries/
  • “How to Grow Cranberries.” Harvest to Table, https://harvesttotable.com/how-to-grow-cranberries/
  • “GARDENING 101: FUN IN THE SUN – EXPLORING SUN AND LIGHT EXPOSURE NEEDS.” Flower Power, https://www.flowerpower.com.au/garden-advice/gardening/gardening-101-fun-sun/

How Loud Are Freeze Dryers?
← Previous
How to Make Seitan from Any Flour: A Complete Guide
Next →