I'm looking for flowering or edible, shade-tolerant container plants.
May 24, 2013 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for flowering or edible, shade-tolerant container plants.

I have a front balcony, and I want to populate it with pretty plants. However, it is really shady. It is covered and faces east, also open to the south and north, but I think it only gets about two hours of sunshine a day. I have tried a variety of pretty plants from the garden supply center (recommended to me by employees) but they have all died. The only thing still growing is my lettuce I planted from seed, but the other veggies have died too. (It's possible I'm doing something else wrong, but I'm not sure what - they are all in fairly large containers, with a container mix soil, and I water them as needed.)

So I'm looking for plants in a range of sizes - I have some hanging baskets that I would like to fill, and I'd like some larger shrub types to stand alone too. I only like flowering plants unless the leaves are extraordinarily cool somehow, or unless they are edible. And, of course, they have to be amenable to growing in containers instead of the ground.

I also have dogs, so would prefer non-toxic plants as my younger has been known to nibble. Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks.
posted by ohsnapdragon to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I should have mentioned - I'm in growing zone 8a.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 5:24 AM on May 24, 2013

Best answer: Your problem is the lack of sun. What will thrive are shade tolerant forest floor species. Containers give you the opportunity for a wide variety of Hostas, as you can avoid the slug and snail issues.
posted by BenPens at 5:37 AM on May 24, 2013

Best answer: What level are you on? If you're not on the second floor or lower, I'd shy away from pollinators; I think alpine strawberries might do well, otherwise herbs and spices; stevia, lavender, dill, mint, peppermint ...
posted by tilde at 5:37 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you are in zone 8a, I imagine you'd have good luck with double impatiens, which look like teeny tiny roses, prefer shady conditions, and occasionally sport cool variegated leaves. Good container plant.

Also: coleus. So many colors/varieties/leaf shapes.

Cilantro, parsley and dill might also tolerate a shady container. I'm in the same zone as you, and in my garden those herbs have historically withered and died long about June if they're getting too much direct sun.

So much about gardening is specific to more than just your growing zone...your tree coverage/local insect population/visiting wildlife also play a part. In general, containers offer more control but make sure your soil is excellent and you water almost daily.
posted by little mouth at 5:38 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The obvious shade tolerant vegetables are chard, kale, spinach and maybe broccoli. Besides your lettuce you can try other salad leaves including pak choi, tatsoi, mizuna, and mustard greens. Finally most herbs do fine in shady conditions, at least through the summer, including parsley, coriander and sage.
posted by roofus at 5:40 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Impatiens impatiens impatiens for summer. Also caladiums and other elephant ear varieties, angel wing begonias, coleus, hosta, astilbe. My impatiens and begonia reseed and come back each summer. Be prepared to water every day when it is hot. For a larger, non flowering evergreen plant try acuba. I have a little more sun in the winter and I get great results with pansies, snapdragons and primrose.
posted by LiverOdor at 6:21 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have rosemary in a container on my east-facing balcony and it is fabulous. My basil died, my jalapeno seedling is barely hanging on, but the rosemary has survived two late frosts, crazy thunderstorms, overwatering, underwatering, and poor drainage.
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the hanging baskets, how about fuschias? We used to have them on a shaded porch and they very pretty.
posted by biscuits at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!
posted by ohsnapdragon at 8:03 PM on May 24, 2013

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