Can Strawberries Grow In Shade?

Strawberries are often thought to require a full eight hours of sunlight daily to thrive, but the reality is that they can tolerate some shade. While total shade is not ideal, there are ways to successfully grow strawberries in partially shaded areas. In this article, we will explore the topic of growing strawberries in shade, how much shade they can tolerate, and the best strawberry varieties for shady conditions.

Can Strawberries Grow in Total Shade?

While strawberries can tolerate some shade, it is important to note that they will not produce fruit in total shade. However, there have been instances where strawberry plants have grown under fruit trees in complete shade. These plants typically have large leaves and may even produce a few flowers. However, they will not bear fruit until they receive several hours of sunlight each day.

Interestingly, in sunny desert locations like Arizona and the interior of Southern California, strawberry plants grown in greenhouses require some shade to protect them from sunburn. These plants struggle to survive the intense light and heat during the summer months. Striking a balance between sun and shade is crucial for successful strawberry growth.

How Much Shade Can Strawberries Tolerate?

Strawberries need a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight each day to produce large, tasty fruit. Although strawberries can flower with even less light, the resulting berries will be small, watery, and acidic. A study conducted by Dr. Hyo Gil Choi at Kongju University in South Korea examined the light requirements of strawberries grown in winter greenhouses with varying levels of sun exposure.

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Dr. Choi experimented by shading some strawberry plants until 10 o’clock in the morning, some until noon, and others until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. These plants received three, five, seven, or ten hours of sunlight daily. Even the plants that received only three hours of sunlight fared better than those in total shade.

The study found that strawberry plants with the least light developed the most chlorophyll, resulting in unusually dark-green leaves. These plants were making the most of the limited sunlight they received. Additionally, the berries grown under different light conditions differed significantly in size and sugar content, but acidity remained the same. Those grown in full sunlight were larger and had higher sugar content.

Here is a summary of Dr. Choi’s findings:

  • Strawberries grown in full sunlight were approximately 50 percent larger than those grown in low-light conditions.
  • Plants in the most shaded areas produced four times as many “tiny” strawberries weighing less than 10 grams or about 1/3 of an ounce.
  • Strawberries grown in full sun had up to 50 percent more fructose, glucose, and sucrose sugars compared to shaded strawberries.
  • Strawberries grown in shade contained acetic acid (the acid in vinegar) similar to strawberries grown in full sun. They had the tartness without the full sweetness.

These findings confirm that strawberries grown in shade are smaller and tarter than those grown in full sun. However, this does not mean that shade-grown strawberries are undesirable. They still provide a beautiful ground cover and serve as shelter for wildlife while bearing fruit.

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Choosing the Right Strawberry Varieties to Grow in Shade

While certain varieties of strawberries thrive in full sun, some are better suited for growing in shady locations. Consider these varieties for successful growth in shade:

  • Alpine Strawberries: These strawberries bear small amounts of fruit throughout the summer. They do not produce runners, making them ideal for controlled growth.
  • Alexandria: This variety is specifically marketed for growing in shaded locations in USDA Growing Zones 3 through 10.
  • Yellow Wonder: Yellow Wonder is a unique yellow strawberry that grows well in the same shaded areas as Alexandria. It offers an interesting and flavorful fruit.

While strawberries grown in shade may not be as productive as those grown in full sun, they still have a place in every outdoor home garden. Their ability to add beauty to the landscape and provide wildlife shelter makes them a valuable addition.


1. Can strawberries grow in total shade?
Strawberries require at least five hours of direct sunlight daily to produce large, tasty fruit. They will not bear fruit in total shade.

2. What is the minimum amount of shade that strawberries can tolerate?
Strawberries can tolerate some shade but need a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.

3. Which strawberry varieties are best suited for shady locations?
Alpine strawberries, Alexandria, and Yellow Wonder are excellent choices for growing strawberries in shaded areas.


While strawberries prefer full sun, they can still grow in partially shaded areas. By providing them with at least five hours of direct sunlight daily, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious strawberries. Consider choosing varieties specifically suited for shade, such as Alexandria and Yellow Wonder, to ensure successful growth in less sunny locations. Remember, while shade-grown strawberries may be smaller and tarter, they still offer numerous benefits and can be a beautiful addition to any garden.

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For more information on growing strawberries and other clean, organic fruits, visit Tims Family Farm.