Best Container Vegetables to Grow in the Shade

Posted on Mar 26 2012 - 1:37am by Mike Lieberman

You’ve scoped out your garden space…

…and determined how much direct sunlight it gets.

Your garden gets less than 6 hours and you feel hopeless.

Sorry to break it to you, but that means you can’t grow tomatoes.

Don’t worry there are other vegetables you can successfully grow in that space.

Shade loving vegetables

The following vegetables will do just well in containers and the shade:

The following vegetables will grow in small/medium sized containers  — and —  they like being in the shade. – – Tweet This

Helping you to succeed in your garden

The purpose of this list is to serve as a guide in helping you to minimize the mistakes you make and set you up for success in your garden.

If you want to, experiment in your garden. See if other vegetables do well in the shade. No one will get hurt if you do.

[vimeo clip_id=”39164990″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ portrait=”0″ width=”525″ height=”393″]

Your turn

Share this post with those in your life that use the excuse of not getting enough sunlight to start growing their own food.

Once you do that, then leave a comment below to let me know which of these shade loving veggies you plan on growing.

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Photos on Flickr.

89 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Busgrl March 26, 2012 at 9:13 am -

    brussel sprouts

  2. Mike Lieberman March 26, 2012 at 9:16 am -


  3. Brenna @ Almost All The Truth March 26, 2012 at 9:43 am -

    We tried growing brussel sprouts in a semi-shady spot last year. They did great, but were attacked by worms and we weren’t able to save a single one. Advice? 
    -Sincerely, Ms. Brown Thumb

  4. Mrsmouse March 26, 2012 at 10:09 am -

    Carrots? Shade or sun? Please? Thanks.

  5. mankepe March 26, 2012 at 10:26 am -

    lessons of life, utilising the soil to feed ourselves. this is true empowerment

  6. Becky H. March 26, 2012 at 11:19 am -

    I’m going to try beans and leafy greens, and hope that the bugs don’t destroy them.  I live in a townhouse (so no yard of my own) and we back up to a wooded area.  The bugs back there are out of control, despite the plethora of birds and bats that live in the woods.  Fingers crossed though!

  7. Shawn Wakefield March 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm -

    I have Swiss Chard and Parsley in two different spots.  One with sun and one shade.  The sun is three times the size as those in shade but the shade ones look fine and taste fine.  Just smaller.

  8. Mike Lieberman March 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm -

    Don’t get worms 😉 Hmm…was it cabbage worms?

  9. Angelica March 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm -

    Hello, handsome and smart Urban Organic Gardener!!! Many blessings from Mexico! I’ve shared your information with my contacts and with my best friend. We are going to find a way to plant some of the nine options that you mentioned in this article. My best friend insists that the container must be ceramic or glass so that the BPA’s from the plastic containers do not get into our food (Bisphenol-A). What do you think? Would glass containers work just the same? Much love from Mexico!!!

  10. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 9:03 am -

    They usually need sun, but give it a shot.

  11. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 9:03 am -

    That’s what’s up. Love it.

  12. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 9:04 am -

    You got this. Work on some preventative measures and be sure to check leaves regularly, so if anything happens you’ll catch it right away.

  13. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 9:04 am -

    Exactly. Still possible. We all love the sunlight!

  14. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 9:04 am -

    I wrote about growing in plastic containers here

  15. Becky H. March 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm -

     Thanks for the vote of confidence!  Definitely will do 🙂  My husband did suggest creating some kind of a barrier, like thin netting, to cover the area and try and help keep some of the bugs away.  Do you think this would be a good idea to try?

  16. Mike Lieberman March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm -

    go for it!

  17. MrJSaul April 1, 2012 at 9:38 am -

    What if you have a porch that gets ONLY shade – 0% direct sunlight? Any veggies might grow there?

  18. Andreajayros April 1, 2012 at 10:04 am -

    lettuces, kale, collards, romanesco broccoli, garlic, (already growing) ~thanks for your newsletter!

  19. Lynn April 1, 2012 at 10:36 am -

    Love the “lists” and your newsletter , thanks.
    Being in the Northwest this list will help a lot!

  20. Kitteemommee April 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm -

    Oooh!!! Brussels sprouts??? I didn’t know!! Adding that to my garden this year! Thanks for the tip.

  21. Jennifer Patalsky April 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm -

    I have radish and three types of lettuce seedlings that are doing amazing on my shady patio! I am planning to start a bean real soon, too. I adore sprouts but I’m afraid they get way too big for a patio garden, are there any mini versions that you know of? Thanks!

  22. Scorpineo April 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm -

    Can you grow basil and other stuff like that in the shade?

  23. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm -

    Give these some ones a shot to see what works.

  24. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm -

    Depends how much shade. Basil usually requires direct sunlight.

  25. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm -

    Mini versions of sprouts?

  26. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm -

    My pleasure.

  27. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm -

    Keepin it real. Keepin it simple ;p

  28. Mike Lieberman April 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm -

    Thanks for taking action!

  29. Jo April 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm -

    brussel sprouts?! Woooooo!

  30. Farmerfanny or Vicky April 2, 2012 at 12:34 am -

    You can grow edible flowers like pansies, impatients, herbs like arp rosemary, thyme, chervil, salad burnet, and others, bunching onions, chives, probably even strawberries.

  31. megan April 2, 2012 at 1:51 am -

     There’s a variety called Lemon Basil that does better in shade than other basils. It has a lemony flavor, but that works for me just fine. Just be careful not to over water anything that lives in the shade.

  32. Alexandra April 2, 2012 at 5:50 am -


    What kinds of beans? How many cauliflower or broccoli plants per container, if using the type you use on your site?

  33. G_hafen April 2, 2012 at 5:55 am -

    I’m a gardening virgin but I think I’ll attempt tomatoes, beans, broccoli and arugula. 

  34. Mike Lieberman April 2, 2012 at 8:57 am -

    Get it!

  35. Mike Lieberman April 2, 2012 at 9:00 am -

    It’s the little things..huh?

  36. Mike Lieberman April 2, 2012 at 9:01 am -

    Word. Let’s keep it as simple as possible on this.

  37. Edileuza Barbosa April 2, 2012 at 9:56 am -


  38. Ailbhe Large April 3, 2012 at 1:55 am -

    Thanks so much Mike awesome list! I’m lucky because i have both types of areas on my terrece. so on the shady walls im going to plant out with leafy greens. But I have a question…. Im more worried about the non shady areas as i live in madrid it gets mad hot and i dont want to scorch my plants by putting them in areas with 100 percent light.. so what can i grow in the hot hot sun that wont get damaged… tomatoes…. cumcumbers????? and what else is their?thatnks buddy!

  39. Lauren April 3, 2012 at 4:48 am -

    I get asked this question a lot!!  But, there is hope for shade dwellers after all!!!  Thank you and I will be sharing.  I’ve already got my broccoli, peas and leafy greens seeds started, yum!  Can’t wait to harvest.

  40. Mike Lieberman April 3, 2012 at 8:16 am -

    nice bro. pretty much anything that is going to flower and fruit – tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, zucchini, eggplant.

  41. Jeannine April 3, 2012 at 8:47 am -

    Question – I know kale is a leafy green, but it’s sort of a special leafy green, can it be grown in the shade as well?  I love kale chips!

  42. Liz April 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm -

    Hey, I had this problem planning my starter garden today. Its a pain in the ass googleing everything so thanks for the email.

  43. Mike Lieberman April 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm -

    Hell yea! Grow your own kale chips!

  44. Mike Lieberman April 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm -

    Good stuff.

  45. Ambush521 April 4, 2012 at 8:34 am -

    does spinach count as a leafy green?

  46. Mike Lieberman April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am -

    I hear that. That’s why I started the site to make it simple for you.

  47. Mike Lieberman April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am -

    I would include it as one.

  48. kelly white April 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm -

    Hi! This is my first year to grow a garden.  i am  a little scared and just want a good turn out! i have pumpkin, spinach, romaine, tomatoes, green beans, bell and sweet peppers, and cauliflower.  some of things were just a project for my kiddos and i want to plant them just so they can see a turnout.  is it okay to plant everything together or do i need to seperate them?  i also wanted to grow jalapenos and strawberries.  is corn something easily grown in a small garden in oklahoma?  thank you for  your time!

  49. Mike Lieberman April 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm -

    Good for you for starting! Separate them a bit. Give em room to grow and breathe. That’s definitely a lot to start out. I’d recommend scaling back a bit, but most importantly have fun with it.

  50. Chanda April 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm -

    I’m trying a small bed in my back yard. It gets dappled shade, I did my research and planted bush beans, peas, some lettuce plants from my neighbor, meseculan greens and some herbs. All are starting to poke out except for some spinach, I was told spinach was dummy proof, apparently not!

  51. Mike Lieberman April 5, 2012 at 7:55 am -

    Good job! It could be some dud spinach seeds.

  52. Tess turbo April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm -

    Zone 3  = need ample time to grow anything, I have a raised garden with a rain barrel too far away to be of any use which is why I’m looking at shade veggies. So suggestions?

  53. Mike Lieberman April 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm -

    Suggestions for shade veggies are listed above.

  54. F Jones1779 April 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm -

    I am growing cucumber, tomatoes,peppers, beets, spinach, bell pepper, egg plant, sorrel,parlsley, rosemary , tai basil, sweet basil , mint, Nero cabbage onions, potatoes.

    I get full sun on one side of my house and deck so I had to put a row cover over my raised garden. The sun was burning the plants. I get full shade on he right side of my house. I live in southern Alabama on the gulf.

  55. Mike Lieberman April 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm -

    nice man. Keep up the great work.

  56. Soma Aloia April 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm -

    Plan on growing peas, greens, beans, beets, scallion, radish.

  57. Mike Lieberman April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm -

    That’s what’s up!

  58. Freesailservices May 14, 2012 at 7:41 am -

    Broccoli and beans and thank you !!!!

  59. Sue Sullivan May 14, 2012 at 8:24 am -

    I would add strawberries and raspberries as shade tolerant plants. They don’t yield as well, but I do get fruit!

  60. Jsedlacek May 14, 2012 at 8:50 am -

    I’m definitely planting peas, radishes, and beets in the shade! Thanks for the tips!

  61. Ronda May 14, 2012 at 9:52 am -

    Not planting scallions because of a food allergy, but we plan on planting all the rest!  We’ve started a farm market and want to offer a variety to the local folks.

  62. Mike Lieberman May 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm -


  63. Susan Willingham May 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm -

    Could someone elighten me about the difference between “shade” and “sem-shade”? I have a patch that seems to be shaded all day but gets a lot of light.  Would that be semi shade? I also have places that are extremely shaded with very little light.

  64. Mike Lieberman May 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm -

    Check out this link Susan

  65. Mike Lieberman May 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm -


  66. Mike Lieberman May 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm -

    Get it!

  67. Mike Lieberman May 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm -


  68. Zeenasworld1 May 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm -

    already started growing lettuce and loving it.

  69. Mike Lieberman May 15, 2012 at 8:12 am -


  70. suburbansous May 15, 2012 at 9:08 am -

    Our brussels sprouts are thriving in our semi-shaded raised bed. Can’t wait to try fresh-off-the-stalk.

  71. Mike Lieberman May 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm -

    Get it!

  72. Donna Lynn Golladay May 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm -

    First time ever: I’ve got beans, peas, lettuce, carrotts – doing very well in our little apt backyard.

  73. Mike Lieberman May 16, 2012 at 10:08 am -

    Good stuff!

  74. Catherine May 18, 2012 at 5:58 am -

    Thank you mike I have whined for years I could not grow anything for lack if sun! I am experimenting with some herbs and greens.

  75. Mike Lieberman May 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm -

    Word. Get it done and keep me updated.

  76. Jasonclark05 May 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm -

    It really depends on which part of the day your garden receives its less than 6 hours worth of sun.  Morning sun or evening sun provides your plants with much less light than the sun in the middle of the day.  I live in Kansas and my raised bed garden only receives 5 hours of light a day but still produces tomatoes, sweet peppers, and eggplant.  It gets its sun between 10-3.  The fruits are smaller as compared to those in other gardens I have in which plants receive around 8 or 9 hours, but it is still possible to do with less than 6 hours.

  77. Mike Lieberman May 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm -

    It’s mean to be a basic rule of thumb for people who are starting out.

  78. Tan June 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm -

    Garlic… grows anywhere, in the raised beds, in containers, sun, shade and at anytime of the year.  Doesn’t like the summer here in Florida, but I still have a few plants out there that I pull up and use for cooking!  All my leafy greens are currently in the shade – attempting to still have salad through the summer heat, they’ve usually bolted by now in previous years, but Im managing to continuously harvest at the moment – mostly micro, baby size, but hey, whatever works!!! Still yummy!  Happy gardening! 🙂

  79. Cara from South Africa June 17, 2012 at 10:39 am -

    I’m growing broccoli. The ones in the sun flowering beautifully, but the ones in the shades are all leaf and no flower. I guess I will just have to be patient!

  80. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:21 am -

    Patience is key 😉

  81. Cara from South Africa August 23, 2012 at 4:35 am -

    The made broccoli heads – yum! And some are flowering now so I will let them go to seed 🙂

  82. Kijo September 29, 2012 at 9:17 am -

    I live in a ground floor flat, I have no garden at all. My flat is on the corner of a street, so 2 sides of the building are basically on the street footpath. The only area I have available is a small undercover area at the back of the flat (under the upper flats stairwell). It gets very little light, and is facing completely the wrong way for direct sunlight at any time other than sunset… I was hoping to plant something in a tub in that area, but so far I haven’t bothered… I just assume that with all the love care and attention I can offer, I will still never get anything to grow here.
    Everything I have found online suggests that a ‘little shade’ is ok, but I’m not sure what I have qualifies as even that. Any ideas anyone?!

  83. wannabee November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am -

    Thank you! FINALLY, I know which veggies will grow on my porch/patio!!! I had already planted peas and they are growing, but was not sure if they would. Now I am ready to plant my organic lettuce. Yay!

  84. Moon March 7, 2013 at 10:49 am -

    Thanks for this list- I am doomed to Portland shade but I still want to grow something!

  85. qcflower March 16, 2013 at 5:12 am -

    I think that italian parsley and some other herbs can flourish

  86. qcflower March 16, 2013 at 5:15 am -

    for people who have 4 to 6 hours of morning sunlight, I think that cherry tomatoes do just fine and produce the most abundant crop possible per plant.

  87. Pokrat May 13, 2013 at 11:40 am -

    I’d like to grow green beans on my patio. How many plants can I have in a 26 inch planter box?

  88. Someonereadingthis November 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm -

    I’d stick with root vegetables. Baby carrots, radishes, and potatoes would all grow fine.

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