Want to have herb/veggies but don't have much sun

MajandraSeptember 11, 2011


I would like to expand my plant collection on my patio. Its facing north and because there are neighbors on my sides and another patio above mine, there are walls and there is not much sunlight that gets on my patio..... I have 2 lemon trees in pots which seem to be doing fine and also I have a geranium that doesn't seem to have problems but I wonder if I could successfully have herbs and maybe small veggies in planters?

I planted several herbs yesterday in a long and narrow planter and wonder if thats going to work out. I even put it on my grill (i dont use it too often and this way the seeds/later herbs will get more sunlight) but eventually I will probably place it somewhere else where there is more shade....

What kinds of flowers/plans can I have that will thrive in not much direct sunlight ? Will my herbs grow fine there? Do I need bigger pots for these herbs (for future reference)


Pics below:

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Hi Majandra! Chances are, if your lemon trees are doing OK (and they look fine!), then your herbs will do OK too. As long as they get some light - is there a railing you can hand the windowbox on? Looks like you have mostly parsley in your box; the herbs will grow in there, no problem. Depending on how many plants you want to end up with, once the seeds sprout, you may or may not want to thin them out. Since I love basil, I plant the entire windowbox, with maybe a couple parsley plants thrown in:

My balcony exposure is south-east; I get sun on the eastern end in the morning, and afternoon sun up against the railing. Realizing that our exposures are very different, I still think your herbs should do OK. Once you've had the experience with the first plants, you'll have a better idea of how many plants/kinds of plants you will want in one box.

Re: veggies - a good rule to remember is that if you grow a plant for the fruit or the root, it needs full sun; if you grow it for the leaves, stems, or buds, a little shade is fine. With that in mind - LETTUCE! Or other salad greens and leafy greens, maybe cauliflower or broccoli? Do you like to grow from seed? There are lots of varieties of vegetables that are suitable for growing in containers.

What plants will grow in shade? There are lots - depends on what you want to grow. Perennials? Hosta, bleeding heart, toad lily, geraniums(!), astilbe, ferns and plenty more. Annuals? Impatiens, coleus, fuchsia, lobelia, balsam, etc., etc. Google "annuals for shade" or "perennials for shade" and you'll find lots to choose from.

Of course, a lot of it is trial and error, experimentation; what works in your location, what fits your lifestyle, what you LIKE.

Hope this helps and good luck with your expansion!


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:11PM
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Thank you PV for your post all all great tips:)

My balcony is facing north and there is a bit of sunlight in the front of in usually by noon. Then its all shade for the rest of the day...Lemon trees seem to be doing fine so this will be an experiment with herbs.

I didn't know about carrots that they will not grow without full sunlight (too bad was excited for some sweet young carrots) but i will look into lettuce!

Your basil is amazing. what kind of basil do you have? i bought seeds of sweet basil but saw some other kinds and had a little bit dilemma of which one to choose so went with sweet one. I like growing from seeds - more fun to watch and more satisfaction than buying a grown plant.

Does growing broccoli or cauliflower require a big container? I might be interested in that but I don't have room for a big container on my balcony.

Fortunately I am the only person who will be using herbs for cooking and veggies (if that works out for me) so I don't need a lot. I guess just a bit of everything that I like. I still want to get some dill seeds.
I bought 2 new containers - one smaller one medium and will have to figure out what to plant there....

Thanks for tips on plants and flowers! i am interested more in once that will live longer than one season... and that will add some color to the balcony. unfortunately its more of a concrete balcony and I don''t have any railings to use for attaching a windowbox. SO I am left with whatever pots/containers I put on the floor i guess.

I am excited to expand flowers/plants on my patio. It's probably not he best time of the year for it -fall - but in I live in San Diego so another 2 months should still be quite warm before it's around 45-50 degrees in the winter.

I also attached below pictures of how the balcony looks like and other ones in the building (it wasn't a sunny day so actually it looks a bit more gray than usually):


    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:08PM
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i wanted to follow up with new photos of my balcony and plants:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 5:55PM
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You have a very nice start to your balcony garden! Everything looks nice and healthy, and I see your herbs are coming up!

I grow Genovese basil - the popular big leaf type. I love pesto(!) and this basil makes it best, IMHO. I'm atually geting ready to make another jar of pesto today. I haven't tried broccoli in a container yet, but I did find a mini-cauliflower which I grew last year, in addition to a mini eggplant. They were both grown in 12" containers - not too terribly large.

Cauliflower in front, eggplant n back:

The cauliflower head is small, 3 or 4 of them make a good meal:

The eggplant are "golf-ball sized":

Smaller or not, nothing beats fresh-picking your dinner! This year I grew cucumbers, green peppers and swiss chard in addition to my must-have tomatoes. Come to think of it, swiss chard would be a good choice for you - it has done very well in the part-shade I have it growing in.

If you'd like to peruse my gardens over the years, you can see them in my Flickr Garden Albums. Maybe you'll get some ideas! :>)

BTW, I'm a seed-grower as well. Like you, I like to see them develop, and it is much more satifying than just buying a plant (although I do my share of that, too!). I don't have the space inside for light setups and such, so I am a Winter Sower. Check it out - Winter Sowing Forum - you might find it interesting!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 9:23AM
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