Fruit trees for shade


Have a shady space in your garden? Or you have a shady balcony? Utilize it by growing vegetables and herbs there. Learn about the Edible Plants that Grow in Shade.

What is a shady position?

Here in this article, by shady we do not mean the position where the sun/ doesn’t reach or a place with no access to direct sunlight. It means there is scattered sunlight or direct sun but only for 3 hours or less.

Can you grow tomatoes in shade?

Would you like to experiment? In theory, plants such as tomatoes, peppers, strawberries or those that set fruits need a lot of sun in order to provide juicy fruits. They grow sometimes in less sunny positions but it’s hard for them to bear fruits in shade.

Also Read: How to Make an Urban Vegetable Garden

Edible Plants that Grow in Shade

There are a few edible plants that grow in shade. Of which we have listed some. You can grow them in your shady space without much difficulty.

1. Mint

Mint is probably a best choice for shaded position. If you think to plant it in your shady backyard, just grow it in a confined space. Otherwise it will spread like a weed.

2. Ginger

Most of the root vegetables tolerate lack of sun. Ginger grows well in partial sun. All it needs a warm spot and moisture. You can also use ginger leaves in salads and teas.

3. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a nutritious green leafy vegetable grown in South Asia, it is easy to grow. You can use it in salads, soups and, many other recipes.

Also Read: How to grow Fenugreek

4. Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach is a climbing spinach grows in tropics. It grows in part shade and moist soil, you can grow this green leafy vegetable in shade year round if your climate is frost free, otherwise grow it as annual.

5. Pak choi

Pak choi or bak choi is also called Chinese cabbage, a diverse plant you can grow from spring to fall. It likes cool weather, you can grow it in shade easily.

6. Chameleon Plant

Where nothing grows chameleon plant thrives. This beautiful ornamental plant is edible and used in Vietnamese cuisines. It grows in wet and shady spots. It is very invasive plant and once grown on ground, it spreads aggressively so it’s better to plant it only in containers.

Edible plants that grow in shade are mostly green leafy vegetables, herbs and root vegetables, such as:

  • Salad Greens
  • Mesclun
  • Onion
  • Corn
  • Beetroot
  • Lovage
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rocket
  • Asian greens

Some herbs that can be grown in shade are:

  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Cuckoo Flower
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Celery
  • Parsley

Tips for Growing Edible Plants in Shade

In the end some tips on how to cultivate plants in the shade.

White walls

If possible white wash your walls and use other light colors around the plants. As a result, the light will reflect back better and your plants will get more indirect light.

Reflective Mulching

Do reflective mulching for the plants grown in part shade. It will reflect the light and heat on plants.


In the shade you need to be careful as moisture quickly develops all kinds of diseases. Provide good ventilation and drainage to plants and do not place them too close together.


Patience is must when you are growing plants in shade. Generally plants grow weaker in shade except those who love shade naturally. It is normal that they will grow little more slowly.

Darker and Bigger Leaves

Plants in shady areas tend to have darker and bigger leaves than those that grow in the sun and there is nothing to worry about this.

Also Read: How to Grow Green Onions in Water

Would you like to be able to utilize every part of your yard?

Do you live on a piece of property that has a lot of shade?

Well, either way, know that there are some vegetables that grow in shade spots. Keep in mind, most of the vegetables still require some sunlight.

But if you have a spot in your yard that is mostly shaded, you should try to grow some of the vegetables that I’m listing here. That way you can still yield more food on your property and not have any wasted space.

So if you would like to put those shaded spots to use, then consider growing some of these vegetables that grow in shade. These are the vegetables that will grow in a partially shaded area:

1. Arugula

Arugula is a nice peppery green that goes great in different salads. We grow it each year and I love adding it to a nice crisp salad that we can eat quickly on a hot night.

2. Beets

We grow beets every year. My husband loves having them pickled. They are very easy to grow in my experience and can be used to make many delicious dishes.

3. Broccoli

I absolutely love broccoli. So the fact that it actually prefers cooler temperatures and some shade makes it that much more amazing. Now you have no reason not to give it a try.

4. Cabbage

Cabbage is another crop that prefers cooler temperatures. The cooler the temperature the fewer bugs you must battle. So if you want to grow cabbage during the summer instead of the fall, then you may have better luck in the shade.

5. Brussel Sprouts

via Bonnie Plants

Brussel sprouts are kind of like tiny cabbages. I personally think they are amazing little vegetables that grow in shade. They too make many great dishes, and since you can grow them in partial shade, why not grow them?

6. Carrots

Since carrots are a root vegetable they don’t require full sun, like other vegetables that are not root veggies. Plants that prefer cooler temperatures actually prefer partial shade as it helps meet that need.

7. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is another plant that prefers cooler temperatures. I planted it in full sun one year and it practically cooked in the middle of my garden bed. So partial shade could help with the temperature needs.

8. Swiss Chard

via Plantfueled

I grow Swiss chard in the garden bed at the front of my house every year. The front of my home only gets morning sun, and I get beautiful rainbow Swiss chard every time. Hopefully you’ll have the same results.

9. Celery

Celery is a difficult crop to grow in my experience. But it is a plant that loves cool weather. So it should be no surprise that it prefers partial shade as this may help keep it cooler.

10. Chinese Cabbage

via SheKnows

Chinese cabbage is a fun looking cabbage that can be used to make many different recipes. You might want to give it a try if you decide to create a garden bed in partial shade this year.

11. Endive

You may not be super familiar with endive. I’ve never had great success growing it, but after much research, I’ve learned it can be difficult to grow. However, if you get it figured out, then it can potentially grow in partial shade.

12. Garlic

Garlic is great to grow yourself. It takes a while to grow, but once it is complete you can have enough to use for recipes and make your own minced garlic.

13. Kale – Vegetables that grow in shade

Kale is a superfood and contains many of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Being able to grow this yourself is a great benefit for your health. It can be cooked, eaten raw, or even juiced.

14. Horseradish

Not everyone will be a fan of growing horseradish. It has a spicier flavor so if you aren’t into spicy food, then you might not be interested. But if you do like spicy, then growing your own could be a great way to make homemade horseradish sauce.

15. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is another interesting vegetable that isn’t common to a lot of people. It has a taste that is similar to broccoli and cabbage. Here are five different recipes so you can figure out how to use it.

16. Leaf Lettuce

I love growing leaf lettuce. I grow it in my cold frame greenhouse, in a wire pin inside my chicken coop so my chickens have their own salad bar, and it can even be grown in partial shade. Lettuce loves cooler weather so it makes sense that shade would be its friend.

17. Leeks

Leeks are related to the garlic and onion family. They actually look a lot like a larger scallion. So if you are a fan of scallions, then you might want to consider growing leeks and seeing what you think of them.

18. Mustards

I love mustard greens. Every year we pick a ton of them, then prep them, and preserve them. They taste delicious when cooked down with some bacon grease. It is a favorite dish to go along with cornbread and pinto beans around my house.

19. Parsnips

Parsnips are related to the carrot. They kind of look like a white carrot and are often cooked with them. So if you’d like to try growing something a little different, then you might want to consider this for a partial shade crop.

20. Peas – Vegetables that grow in shade

Green peas are absolutely delicious. I don’t actually grow them myself because you have to plant so many to get a good sized harvest. But if you have the room, keep in mind that they can be grown in partial shade.

21. Potatoes

Potatoes grow under the ground and are vegetables that grow in shade. Everything needs a little sunlight to survive, but they don’t need full sun all of the time. So consider raising them in a shady spot.

22. Radishes

If you are looking for a fast growing and no-fuss crop, then you’ll want to give radishes a chance. They are great for adding a little peppery flavor to your salad in a natural way.

23. Rutabagas

via DIY Network

I’m sure you’ve seen this vegetable in your grocery store’s produce department. It kind of looks like a giant turnip and it was bred to be a cross between the turnip and the cabbage. So if you are looking for something different to grow in a shaded spot, then consider the rutabaga.

24. Scallions

I’m a huge fan of scallions. They are great to go on top of potato soup and as a garnish on many other dishes. Not only do they add a good amount of flavor, but they add beautiful color to your dish as well.

25. Sorrel

We grow sorrel in the garden bed in front of our home as well. It is a partially shaded area and our sorrel does beautifully each year. I love the bitter flavor this vegetable adds to our salads when added raw. Our rabbits love it too.

26. Spinach

Spinach is another superfood and vegetables that grow in shade. It has a ton of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. So why not grow it in your yard so you are sure to get at least one superfood on a daily basis?

27. Turnips

Turnips are an acquired taste, but I actually like them because they offer up two dishes. If you don’t like the turnips themselves, then you will probably like the greens. I always ate the greens and fixed the turnips for my mother-in-law.

28. Watercress

Watercress is a leafy green. It is great to be added to salads, sandwiches or used as a garnish for your savory meals.

29. Bush Beans

A lot of people assume that green beans need full sun. Actually, bush beans grow well in partial shade because this protects the tender beans from being cooked on the vine.

30. Summer Squash

Squash is a very easy plant to grow. They are vegetables that grow in shade and would work well in a partially shaded spot. The reason is that the big leaves actually help protect the vegetable from being cooked in the sun. Extra shade will help that as well.

31. Basil

Growing your own herbs is a great thing in my opinion. Fresh herbs taste wonderful when added to any dish. Basil is also a great food for your chickens as it helps to support their immune systems.

32. Catnip

Catnip is another great herb to add to your shaded herb garden. It can be used to make catnip tea or just as a special treat for the cats in your life.

33. Chives

We have multiple chive plants planted in our front garden bed in partial shade. They do beautiful each year and have provided us with many tasty chives.

34. Germander

via Advice From the Herb Lady

Germander is usually considered an ornamental plant. Though it can be used to add fragrance to a dry wreath or infused for medicinal purposes.

35. Garden Cress

This is a fast growing herb that is related to mustard and watercress. It has a great smell and a nice peppery flavor. It can be added to different foods to give off that flavor in the dish.

36. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has many uses. I usually plant a lot of it for bees. They are attracted to the scent and in turn, pollinate my garden. So if you would like a bee attractant to be added to your partially shaded spaces, then this might be a good one.

37. Mint

Mint is great for making teas and extracts. It is also great at driving away pests such as mosquitos. If you plant it and care for it, it does spread and can create a nice barrier of pest protection. We did this around our playground area so the bugs would leave the kids alone as they played.

38. Parsley

Parsley is one of those herbs that can be added to virtually any dish. We grow a lot of this every year because our family loves it so much. The fact that it can be grown in partial shade is just that much better.

39. Rosemary

Rosemary is a stronger herb. It packs quite the flavor punch when placed in dishes. So if you love this aromatic herb, then consider adding it to your shaded herb garden this year.

40. Sweet Woodruff

This plant is considered a ground cover. It would be great to plant anywhere that you would like to beautify though there is little sunlight. It is also a perennial as well.

41. Sweet Flag

This is another perennial plant. It is an evergreen so it is great for adding color to a shady spot that needs a little life added to it.

42. Asparagus

We grow asparagus in our garden as well. It takes a little time for asparagus to take off so you can begin to harvest it. But once you get it going, it will come back year after year.

43. Valerian

This is a gorgeous flowering plant that will come back year after year. So if you need to add some color to a shaded area, then consider adding this beauty.

44. Rhubarb – Vegetables that grow in shade

Rhubarb is another plant that takes some time for it to fully develop. It is a perennial and will come back larger and larger each year. We grow ours in a partially shaded garden and it has done very well in our experience.

Well, you now have over 40 options for vegetables that grow in shade that you can plant. Hopefully, it will help add food to your cabinets or beauty to a shaded area.

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One of the most important factors to consider when planning your edible plants or permaculture garden is to OBSERVE your environment and analyse your sectors (wind, sun, fire, water, frost). It is number one on David Holmgren’s list of Permaculture Principles (1. Observe and Interact). Learning how these external energies behave on your specific property will make your garden design and planting so much more successful and long-lasting.

Observing where the sun and shade are throughout the year will also allow you to plan which plants or elements will grow best in each spot. Rather than finding a spare spot and planting a full sun-loving tree in an area that is 80% shaded and wondering why it doesn’t do well (been there, done that..). Gardening is a lot of trial and error, but by observing and interacting you will be able to identify what issues you have and figure how to solve them.

I have identified areas of my garden that are mainly in shade due to our garage and neighbouring trees.

My Top 5 Edible Plants to Grow in the Shade:

  1. Nasturtiums – Tropaeolum majus. If you don’t know by now these are one of my favourite plants. They thrive pretty much anywhere and are so abundant even in shaded areas. Most of the plant is edible!
  2. Sweet Violets – Viola odorata. Sweet violets, also know as English Violets, Wood Violets or Common Violets, have cute little purple or white and purple edible flowers and make a beautiful carpeted ground cover.
  3. Lettuce – I grow many different varieties of lettuce and they don’t seem to mind the shade. In fact in Perth, WA I find they do better in the shade.
  4. Chives – Allium schoenoprasum. I have chives planted in the shade year-round and they do well. They add great oniony freshness to omelettes and the flowers are also edible.
  5. Kale – Brassica oleracea var. acephala. Kale grows well in the shade due to its large leaves being able to sustain adequate energy. It does grow at a slower rate (like most plants in the shade) which I like because although I like kale it is much easier to keep up with it.
  6. Radish – Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus. Radish are fast-growing and will do well in the shade. They are a perfect fresh accompaniment to a salad or pickled.
  7. Asian Greens – Bokchoy, Tatsoi, Choy Sum, these are some of my favourite Asian leafy greens and they all do well in the shade or part shade.
  8. Parsley – Petroselinum crispum. Parsley will tolerate shade and I find it grows at just the right rate for me to use without having masses going to waste.
  9. Sweet Potato – Ipomoea batatas. Although full shade is not ideal growing conditions my Sweet Potato still does well. Slower growing but a great ground cover and still produces decent size crops.
  10. Rocket – Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa. Rocket does fine in the shade too and is a great addition to any salad, served with Pizza or make a delicious rocket pesto!

Overall growing edible plants in the shade will require more patience as growth rates will be slower and will often result in smaller plants. This can be a great thing though for plants that you don’t use very often or in small amounts. Less waste and they will also require a lot less water.

What edible plants do you grow in the shade? Leave me a comment below.


  • Blueberries: Most blueberry bushes require full sun, but lowbush blueberries will tolerate partial shade. This is also a cold-tolerant variety and can be grown in Zones 3-6.
  • Currants: The small berries of red and black currant shrubs are delicious in jams and other foods. Some varieties of the shrub will tolerate partial sun or moderate shade.
  • Elderberries: An elderberry shrub can thrive in partial shade and produce fragrant (and edible) flowers along with dark purple berries that can be used in wines, jams, and even a homemade flu remedy.
  • Gooseberries: Use the gooseberry bramble for its fruit and as a hedging for privacy in your shady yard. Like raspberries, they do spread but their sweet fruits are worth it.
  • Hardy Kiwi: It is possible to grow kiwi in the northern regions if you choose the hardy kiwi plant. This vine requires a trellis and can tolerate partial shade, but does enjoy a bit of sun.
  • Juneberries: Birds love the juneberry (or serviceberry) trees and shrubs that produce some fruit (sometimes called ‘small apples’). This is another fruit for those who love canning their own jams and jellies.
  • Lingonberries: A popular wild berry in Scandinavia, the lingonberry is a delicious fruit. The low, evergreen shrubs are a nice addition to a garden and if it can grow in Scandinavian forests, it just might work in your shady yard.
  • Mulberries: The mulberry tree thrives in the eastern hills of the U.S. and is tolerant to both shade and cold temperatures. Do be careful because the fruits are plentiful but known to make a mess on the ground. A non-fruiting mulberry is recommended more often for landscaping.
  • Muscadines: If you live in the South, you know the muscadine (or scuppernong) is a native American grape that makes a great pie and a fun wine. These vines will require a trellis and the more sun you can give them, the more fruits you will get.
  • Raspberries: Picking fresh raspberries is a highlight of summer and can save a lot of money. They are very easy to grow and will tolerate partial shade. However, these brambles are notorious for running and can get out of control quickly.
  • Strawberries: Most gardening advice says that strawberries need full sun but many gardeners know from personal experience that they can do well in the shade. It is worth trying and who knows, you may be one of the lucky few!

Is that one spot next to the couch in the living room looking a like sparse? Instead of a planted palm, why not grow your own fruit tree indoors like a friendly houseplant? While it may sound impossible (they are huge outdoors!), dwarf trees are the perfect size to fit in any living room, sun room or even that bare spot in the kitchen.

Dwarf trees, which are the result of grafting a fruit tree onto a dwarf rootstock, makes it possible to grow these fruits indoors. These types of trees can be purchased at your local nursery or gardening store or even online. Each plant needs a deep pot (about 1 foot deep at least) and a large layer of drainage material at the bottom of the potting. Water the plant frequently and feed regularly with fertilizer.

1. Peaches

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Redhaven peach and some pears and apples in my garden 🍑🍐🍏 🌞 # 🍑 #🍐 #🍏 #redhavenpeaches #peaches #peachtree #peachtrees #pear #peartree #organicgardening #freshfruit #growyourownfruit #mygarden #myphotography #organicfruit #healthyfruit #appletree #fruitstagram #veganfood #closeupphotography

A post shared by wallpapersbox (@wallpapersbox) on Jul 25, 2019 at 2:29am PDT

Peach trees make great indoor plants. Look for the bonanza variety which grow on 30-inch stems. These trees do great in a sunny room until the fruit starts to set, when it needs to be in temperatures of 65 to 70°F. Simply set it outdoors on a porch and wait for the edible fruit to grow.

2. Apricots

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#apricot #dwarfapricot #springflowers #waitingforspringtime …my dwarf apricot flowering!

A post shared by Alessandra de Anna (@ale.deanna) on Mar 6, 2017 at 10:57am PST

Like peaches, apricots do great indoors. Buy varieties like Shipleys and Goldcot and place in a large pot filled with compost and draining. Since the flowers cannot pollinate themselves, use a paintbrush to gently transfer the pollen from one flower to another.

3. Figs

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In clear opposition to the foot of snow still on the ground outside, my fig trees remind me that spring really is on the way. #figtree #spring #indoorfruittrees #indoorgardening #winterrelief

A post shared by Emily (@toadinthegarlic) on Feb 18, 2017 at 10:50am PST

While most fig plants have large roots, the Negro Largo variety works great in a large pot. Place the fig tree in a well-lit room away from direct sunlight for the best results, feeding with fertilizer two to three times a season.

4. Lemons

Citrus trees do extremely well indoors. Grow Meyer lemons, which self pollinate, for the best crop. These plants need a lot of sunlight and humidity, especially Meyer lemon trees, which can be mimicked with a quick spray of water from a spray bottle.

5. Limes

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• Lime Picking today • Can’t eat them all so Enav decided to give half of his lime harvest to his neighbor, Kasen. 🍋 They’re both three years old and only see each other on Halloween and Fourth of July 😂

A post shared by @ sugaristardust on Oct 10, 2019 at 2:02pm PDT

Like lemons, limes love growing indoors. Kaffir limes (which also produce amazing leaves to use in Thai cuisine) is the tree of choice for growing inside. Lime trees require about eight to twelve hours of sunlight everyday, so keep them in your sunniest room to produce fruit.

6. Olives

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Fascinated with indoor olive trees at the moment – what’s not to love?! 😍 ♡ 📷 from Homes and Gardens UK #indoorolivetree #indoorplant #interiorinspiration #interiordecor

A post shared by FREY︒ (@frey.home) on May 28, 2015 at 2:50pm PDT

These self-pollinating olive trees are easier to care for than most other fruit trees. When buying, look for the Arbequina or Picholine varieties which will grow fruits. Simply water the tree when the top inch has dried out and give about six hours of sunlight each day.

7. Avocado

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My three largest and oldest avocado plants! The shortest one is the oldest, but it has three branches!🤩🥑🌱🌳

A post shared by Avokadoplantor / Martina (@avokadoplantor) on Jul 10, 2019 at 8:03am PDT

While it’s not easy to grow an avocado indoor, it is possible. Rather than growing your own fruit from a pit, use varieties like Wurtz, Gwen and Whitsell for the best results. Water the plant regularly and celebrate when the fruit starts coming in.

8. Bananas

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My banana trees have yet to produce any fruit…but at least it’s producing another tree 💚🤗🌱🍌 #fruittrees #bananas #bananatree #indoorgardening #houseplants #aspiringgardener #indoorfruittrees #indoorplants #newgrowth #babybanana #bananaplant

A post shared by Stephanie Hoffa (@stephhoffa) on Aug 19, 2017 at 7:16am PDT

Self-pollinating, the Super Dwarf Cavendish or Dwarf Red is the best bet for an indoor banana tree. Fertilize the plant monthly and mist with a spray bottle to mimic a bit of humidity.

9. Nectarines

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My Dad’s nectarine tree is in full fruit #nectarinetree #mygarden #mydadsmemory #summerfruit

A post shared by Sue Dixon (@sue.dixon3) on Aug 20, 2019 at 3:02pm PDT

Like peaches, nectarine trees can grow as short as 30 inches and love growing in a sunny indoor location. Opt for the nectarella variety and place on the porch when the fruit starts growing.

10. Oranges

Calamondin trees are the best orange trees inside though the fruit is incredibly source. These dwarf fruit trees are comparable to Meyer lemon trees and lime trees in that they self-pollinate.

Watch: The Pawpaw is America’s Forgotten Tropical Fruit

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Flowers and foliage add elements of nature and plenty of color to any room, and that can be enough of a reward for an indoor gardener. But being able to actually pick something edible can be a whole new world of enjoyment.

It may not be the first thing you think of for houseplants, but you can definitely bring some fruit into the house and have your own personal harvest.

Why Grow Fruit Indoors?

Like with any houseplants, one of the biggest benefits from growing indoors is that you can protect your plants from all sorts of outdoor hazards. This can be especially true with fruit. Soft and usually sweet, fruits are very vulnerable to insect and animal pests. Growing them inside means you don’t have to worry about losing your harvest before you get to pick anything.

Another perk is that you can control the temperature and the lighting, making it possible to grow your own fruit even if you live in the wrong climate zone. Speaking of lighting, all of these plants will need a lot of light, and sunlight can be augmented with artificial light if necessary. But you should forgo trying indoor fruit if you are trying to deal with a very-low light area.


So there are several reasons why growing fruit inside is a great idea, but there can be some difficulties in taking this route.

One can be space. While strawberries and tomatoes can be grown like any other potted plant, trying to manage a small tree in the house isn’t going to work out if you are tight on space.

The other issue is pollination. Most houseplants will grow, bloom and put out new leaves all by themselves regardless of what other plants you have or a lack of insect activity. Unfortunately, fruit is a little different. Fruit is produced along with seeds as part of the plant’s reproductive cycle, and that means they don’t burst into fruit at random. There needs to be some sort of combining of male and female elements.

All of the intricacies of plant reproduction are too detailed to go into here. Each type of plant can be different. You generally don’t need to worry about having a male and female plant though. Most fruiting plants will have flowers that contain both male and female parts. Your job will be to move the pollen (that yellow dusty stuff), from one flower to another, even if it’s on the same plant. A small craft paintbrush is a the perfect tool for this.

Fruit Plants That Can Be Grown Indoors

1 – Strawberries

If you only try one fruit indoors, it should be strawberries. They are so prone to slug damage, this can be the best way to grow them, even when you have space outside. You’ll need fairly bright sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day, and since strawberries don’t have deep roots, you can plant them in reasonably-sized pots. Water whenever the soil is dry to the touch.

A hanging basket works very well for the varieties that put out runners, otherwise they can spread out quite a bit. You also need to look for either everbearing or June-bearing plants. Everbearing plants will give you fruit all through the summer, but June strawberry plants just have a once-a-year harvest.

Not sure? Go with Red Alpine. They’re very popular as indoor plants, with no runners and frequent fruiting.

2 – Citrus Fruit

The trick with citrus and any other fruit tree, is that you’ll want to get a dwarf variety in order to have it inside. Trying to grow a full-size tree is not a wise idea unless you have a very large sunroom or greenhouse. Just don’t be fooled by the term. In most cases, even dwarf trees can be several feet high and they do produce full-size fruit. You should get at least 1 to 2 bushels of fruit from each tree.

So, you can grow these dwarf trees for lemons, limes, or oranges. As warm-climate plants, you’ll need to give them a sunny spot with steady warm temperatures (around 65F). For lighting, you’ll need at least 8 to 12 hours of strong sunlight. If your windows won’t provide that, expect to install a few lamps to make up the difference. Give them a fertilizer feeding about once a month during the spring and summer with a high nitrogen formula designed for fruit trees.

Containers can be tricky given the potential size of the tree as it grows. You can repot as it gets larger or just start off in a big pot that holds at least 15 gallons, with good drainage holes.

You may have to be patient with fruit trees. Unlike smaller seasonal plants, it can be a year or more before your new plant is mature enough to start flowering and fruiting. Buying a tree that is around 3 years old can speed things up for you.

Though citrus fruits are very popular as indoor fruit, you can also follow these same general guidelines for dwarf apples, pears, apricots or nectarines.

3 – Tomatoes

Botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit and they do make excellent houseplants if you get the right variety. Trying to grow enormous beefsteak tomatoes is going to be a difficult challenge, so stick to smaller strains like Tiny Tim or any other kinds of cherry tomatoes. They’ll grow just fine in a large pot in the house. Six to 8 hours of bright light and regular watering should keep them happy.

Without the wind to constantly buffet the plant, an indoor tomato can have weak stems. You might need to provide more support than you would expect to keep them upright once the fruit starts to develop. A good plant should give you a few pounds of tomatoes, but that will depend on what variety you go with.

We already talked about pollination but tomatoes are a little trickier than most. Some varieties are self-pollinating to the extent that the flowers don’t even open up. The pollen just stays within the blossom and moves around when the plant shifts in the wind. You’ll have to mimic this with your indoor plants if you want any fruit. Give the closed flowers a light flick, or hold a running electric toothbrush against the stem to give the plant a gentle vibrating.

4 – Mulberries

You may not be as familiar with mulberries as the other fruits so far. Though standard trees are very tall, you can find dwarf cultivars that should stay around 6 feet high (or even shorter), making it a reasonable choice for indoors if you have the space. The berries look like dark red raspberries with an elongated shape instead of round, and they’re not common in stores. So grow your own!

Compared to other fruit trees, mulberries grow and mature very slowly. You may not get fruit on your tree until it reaches around 10 years of age. Try to get older “seedlings” to minimize your wait time.

As usual, you’ll need a full day of good sun (or additional artificial light) to keep a mulberry healthy, and they should be potted in well-draining soil. You can’t let their roots get water-logged. You also can’t let them dry out. A layer of mulch in their pots will keep moisture in so you don’t have to water quite so often.

Mulberries can benefit from a little pruning during the less-active winter months, though indoor plants may not go as dormant as outdoor ones due to the year-round warm temperatures in the house. Clip away dead branches and any that are crowding the central part of the tree. Nothing too severe, just keep it from getting overgrown.

If you’re on the fence about growing mulberries, consider their many health benefits, which include improved digestion and better blood sugar control.

5 – Ground Cherry

Like the strawberries, ground cherry plants are small enough to be grown like a standard houseplant rather than a tree. They are interesting to grow because the fruit develops inside a papery husk that looks like a lantern. The fruit inside is bright yellow and has an unusual sweet flavor a little like a tomato.

Related to the tomato, they grow in the same way and can use the same conditions for water and light. The plants won’t be overly high but can be wide and bushy. Each one should produce dozens of cherries in a season. The husk should be dry and brown for it to be ripe, but if green ones fall off the plant, you can leave them on the kitchen counter to dry and ripen on their own.

Tips and Tricks

There are a few extra tips you can use if you are trying to grow fruit indoors, regardless of the specific plants you have. For one thing, you can help boost your plant’s fruit production by adjusting the lighting. Lots of natural sunlight is great, but if you have artificial lights going as well, look for ones with a red tone, or ones labeled “warm.” Add a timer to your lamps and you can give your fruit a long bright day, no matter the season or your own schedule.

Even if you don’t usually have an issue with bugs in the house, fruit can sometimes draw a few more flies or mites than usual. A regular spritz of natural insecticidal soap, either commercial or homemade, should be enough.

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104shares 5 Tasty Fruit Plants That Can Be Grown Indoors was last modified: July 26th, 2019 by The Practical Planter

Q: I’m planning to develop a “gourmet”
fruit and vegetable garden. Since Alpine strawberries are never
available at the grocery store, they are high on my wish list. What can
you tell me about growing them?

A: Alpine
strawberries are sometimes thought of as wild strawberries, but the
plants are available in many nurseries and mail-order catalogs as
cultivated plants. A few seed catalogs also offer alpine strawberry
seeds. Although smaller in size and more elongated in shape than
conventional strawberries, alpine strawberries have a much richer
flavor. In addition to the usual red strawberries, there are varieties
that make yellow berries and white ones, too.

Because of our very
warm summers, your alpine strawberries will need a slightly shadier
location than conventional strawberries. A location with morning sun and
some late afternoon shade would be ideal. The soil should be amended
with organic matter to help hold moisture. Plants should be fertilized
with an all-purpose fertilizer in early spring and once again in
mid-summer. Alpine strawberries are ever-bearers, so once the plants
begin to bear, they will produce berries until fall, go dormant over
winter, and resume fruiting again in spring.

Unlike conventional
strawberries, Alpine strawberries do not form runners. Instead, Alpine
strawberries are propagated by seed or from dividing mature plants.
Because they do not form runners, they can be used to form tidy edgings
for garden beds. The plants themselves stay under one foot tall and
wide, and with their dark green leaves, white flowers and colorful
berries they can fit very nicely in the flower garden.

Q: I
know different houseplants have their own specific light requirements.
Are there any generalizations you can provide in selecting the proper
plant for a particular site?

A: Plant
performance is directly affected by whether or not the plant is
receiving the correct light intensity. Insufficient light may cause a
plant to grow poorly, fail to flower, and be more susceptible to insect
and disease attacks.

The green-leaved foliage plants require the
least light. Normal room light levels will usually be sufficient for
them. Foliage plants with variegated leaves require brighter light. They
will need to be located near a window or artificial light source.
Flowering houseplants require even brighter light. They must be located
next to a bright window, but not in direct sunlight. The cacti and
succulents have the highest light requirements and may require direct
sunlight in order for them to perform properly.

Ottillia “Toots” Bier has been a master gardener since 1980.

Shade Tolerant Edible Plants

April 11, 2017 OGW Growing GuidesfruitsplantsShadeShade tolerant plantsshrubs

Looking for shade tolerant edible plants to grow on the north side of a fence, building or tall trees? The plants on this list will grow well in at least partial shade. Fruit production will generally be less with more shade.

This list of shade tolerant edible plants is a work in progress and we’d love to hear your experiences with these and other plants.


Use this unique, beautiful, semi-evergreen vine to cover a fence or wall, or on an arbor or trellis. Cascading deep green foliage accents the profuse, wonderfully fragrant flowers, which range in color from very dark purple to white. Native to Japan and China, Akebia can bear unique and unusual, light blue, 4″-6″ long, edible fruits. When ripe, it splits open to reveal a row of black seeds in clear sweet pulp.

Arctic Beauty Kiwi

Native to the forests of eastern Russia where it is called Kishmish, Arctic Beauty Kiwi is the hardiest of all the Kiwi Species. A beautiful vine, its unique, light and airy foliage is splashed in the spring with green, white, and pink variegations. Male plants are especially colorful and are often planted alone for their ornamental value. Less vigorous than the Hardy or Fuzzy Kiwi and happier with some shade, you can use Arctic Beauty to cover the north side of a fence, arbor, or trellis. Enjoy the fuzzless fruit skin just like on the other Hardy Kiwi varieties.

Arctic Raspberry

Arctic Raspberry is prized for its attractive flowers and tasty fruit in addition to being one of the hardiest of fruiting plants. Also known as Nagoonberry, this thornless, low growing species of Raspberry makes a beautiful, fruiting ground-cover. Its 1″ diameter, pink flowers bloom in late spring and are followed by sweet-tart, deliciously aromatic, small red berries in July.


Ask your European and Russian friends about Currants. A favorite fruit for many people around the world, most of us American’s have not had the opportunity to taste these delicious berries. Beautiful additions to your yard or landscape, these upright growing shrubs are attractive in bloom and a striking sight in fruit, with large clusters of pink, red, white or black berries cascading down the heavily laden branches. Currants are rich in antioxidants and have a much higher vitamin C content than oranges.


These easy to grow, small to medium-size shrubs are prized for their beautiful, large, white or pink flower heads, which are followed by large quantities of blue-black tasty and nutritious berries in late summer. Or ornamental varieties offer exceptionally attractive foliage in addition to fruit. Prepare delicious “elderberry fritters” from clusters of Elderberry flowers and make jelly, syrup or wine from the berries.

Evergreen Huckleberry

Growing throughout our Northwest coastal forests, this very attractive, upright growing shrub is prized for its deep green, evergreen foliage and flavorful, juicy, dark blue fruit, which is great for fresh eating and makes delicious preserves and Huckleberry pies. Evergreen Huckleberry likes shade or sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soil. It will grow to 8 ft. in height in the shade and 3-4 ft. in height in the sun. Space 3-4 ft. apart to make a beautiful, edible, evergreen hedge.


These attractive, compact shrubs are widely grown and prized by gardeners in many countries. Tasty jewels of our fruit world, the newer varieties we offer are large, sweet and very good for fresh eating, preserves and pies. Our Gooseberry varieties are also easy to grow and disease-resistant.


Native to the Russian Far East, China and Japan, Goumi is a very popular fruit in these regions and is now widely planted in many European and American gardens. Goumi forms a medium size shrub growing to 6 ft in height with attractive, silvery green foliage. It’s white flowers bloom in the middle to the end of May and are very fragrant and loved by bees making it a fantastic pollinator. The juicy, scarlet-red fruit is speckled with silver and ripens in July. Aromatic with a flavor reminiscent of pie cherries, it is very good eaten fresh and also makes tasty preserves.

Highbush Cranberry

This valuable and attractive shrub is prized for its medicinal properties, fruit, and ornamental value. Highbush Cranberry features large clusters of snow-white flowers in the spring followed in September by bright red berries and striking reddish orange foliage. After frost removes their bitterness, the berries are used for preserves, candy and baked goods. The flowers, fruit, fruit and seeds are used in herbal medicine as a fever reducer, to lower blood pressure and treat heart disease.


A very hardy and unique small shrub, Honeyberry is a species of Honeysuckle with sweet and tasty fruit. Native to Eastern Siberia, the Russian Far East, and Northern Japan, Honeyberry is valued for its tasty, blueberry-like fruit, its extremely early ripening, often two weeks before strawberries, and its exceptional hardiness, to minus 40 degrees F., or below. Great for fresh eating, juicing, and preserves.

Oregon Grape

Oregon’s State Flower, Oregon Grape is an attractive, drought-resistant, evergreen shrub that grows to about 6 ft. in height and spread. Oregon Grape displays abundant, small yellow flowers in early spring accented by glossy green foliage, which often turns purple-red or bronze in the winter. Following the flowers are heavy crops of dark blue berries, which make excellent jelly.


Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are one of the most unique and delicious fruits that can be grown in the backyard orchard. Native to eastern North America, pawpaws are the only member of the Annonaceae, or custard apple family, that is adapted to temperate climates. Its tropical relatives include the cherimoya, atemoya, guanabana, and soursop, and it is easy to see the resemblance between the pawpaw fruit and that of its tropical cousins. Pawpaw fruit combines delectable, fruity, banana-like flavor with creamy, custard-like flesh. Nutritious as well as delicious, the greenish yellow, 3″-6″ long fruit is unusually high in protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Everything about this plant, from its leaf size and shape to the way its fruits look, taste and smell is tropical, yet it is cold hardy to zone 5 and can be grown in temperate climates from coast to coast. A slow growing, small tree, Pawpaw is naturally disease and pest resistant and features long, tropical-looking foliage that turns a striking bright yellow in the fall. The largest native American fruit, Pawpaw was a significant part of the Native American diet, and with our superior large-fruited varieties, is enjoying new popularity.


A very popular plant with our Northwest Native Americans, Salmonberry forms an attractive upright shrub growing to about 6 ft. in height. Salmonberry features large, pink to red flowers and golden-yellow to reddish fruit that resembles a large raspberry. The berries are variable in quality, but are always liked by birds. The young shoots are also peeled and eaten fresh or boiled as a vegetable.

Silver Vine Kiwi

From the Russian Far East, this attractive vine shares the hardwood forest of that region with Arctic Beauty and Hardy Kiwi, Amur Grape, and Magnolia Vine. Silver Vine is prized for its large, white, fragrant flowers, greenish-silver foliage, and abundant crops of unique, sweet, light orange fruit. Great for covering a fence, wall, or arbor, Silver Vine like partial shade and is hardy to minus 35ºF., USDA Zone 3.


Spicebush, from the laurel family, form attractive shrubs and will have either male or female pale yellow flowers that produce glossy red berries. The leaves, flowers, and berry all have a very flavorful spice which gives it it’s namesake. A Spicebush tea can be made from the aromatic leaves and twigs, and the dried and powdered fruit can be used as a spice.


Thimbleberry bears clusters of large, white flowers followed by Raspberry-like, delectably sweet, red berries. Native Americans ate the fruit fresh and also dried it and mixed it with other berries. This attractive small shrub has very large and soft, maple-leaf shaped foliage.


Wintergreen Shrub, a beautiful evergreen groundcover, is native to the East Coast and produces profuse, small white flowers followed by sweet and flavorful, bright red berries, which taste just like Wintergreen candy. Growing to about 6″ tall, it will spread slowly to a foot or more in diameter.

I’m getting excited. I can’t help it. The deal is in the works, and my wife and I are but a few steps—however indefinitely long they take—to purchasing our own piece of land. We’ve decided that the tropics is the right climate for us. We couldn’t resist the year-round temperatures suitable for growing. We couldn’t resist the fantastic tropical fruits—the pineapple, mango, cashew apple, lime, coconut, jackfruit…there are so many!—and amazingly we can’t really resist the the shade-tolerant trees, either.

It’s something I’ve worried about from time to time. I want those mango and cashew trees. I want the breadfruit, the soursop, limes, jackfruit, and the others. All the while, I know that some of these trees are large, sprawling specimens taking up loads space in the food forest, and I want some other stuff, too. Luckily, it turns out that the understory—what’s growing at the edges and beneath these behemoths—are simply spectacular. I’ve been thinking about all that shade, and I’m pleased to say that, in many cases, it’s just what the grower ordered.

Most of the following plants I’ve had experience with, either growing them myself on others’ farms or learning about them from other farmers. Some of them simply tolerate some dappled shade, while others are all out dwellers of the underworld, content in the deepest, darkest jungle. All of them are useful and edible, and hopefully soon to be coming to a farm near me.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Cacao Under Canopy

Obviously, I’m excited to be settling in a place (the Maya Mountains of Belize) where cacao trees are almost an expectation in any food forest. They are extremely finicky plants, with very specific and narrow criteria for where they will grow. What’s more is that they are famous for losing a good percentage of crop and dropping buds during bad weather. But, it’s cacao! It grows wonderfully in the shade, underneath jungle canopies that are already there or contentedly beneath of food forest cultivated from the ground up, and it provides one of the most nutritious and delicious things on the planet.

At the moment, we are volunteering on an organic cacao farm, putting in some permaculture systems no less, and learning some of the ropes we’ll need to start growing, harvesting, and processing our own cacao.

Coffee (Coffea caniphora, aka robusto)

Coffee Under Cacao

Another amazing perennial tree that digs the shade, as well as very specific tropical environs, is coffee. It’s something that I—and most people I know—drink every day, even though very few of us live in a place suitable for growing it. While I’ve lived in better spots, like the high altitude mountains in Guatemala, it’s still for sure good to grow coffee in the shade, and here in Belize, with the right care, we’ll likely be able to produce our own quality Robusto roast! (Arabica coffee, the more revered, is a little more selective about altitude and temperature.)

Emma and I actually got to run a permaculture class for a Green Camp on a coffee finca in Guatemala not long ago, so we got some interesting does and don’t of coffee growing and being productive with shade trees.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Young Ginger

Ginger is a great way to usefully fill the space beneath trees. It thrives in the shade, and it’s very easy to grow and maintain. Ginger makes for a very hardy plant that doesn’t want for much in the way of sun. With the right combination of heat and humidity, they’ll handle things themselves, and then they can be harvested and replanted right away. This is perfect for us. We love including ginger in our food, as it is full of medicinal value, and I also make homemade ginger beer. Not to mention, much of the rest of the ginger family will work similarly, or for those not in the tropics, it can also be grown as an indoor edible houseplant.

We first started growing ginger during our project in Panama in 2014, and there we were doing it beneath a canopy of plantain and papaya trees in one spot and beneath a water apple in another spot. Here we are excited to also be adding turmeric, aka “yellow ginger” to the farm.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifola)

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla, actually an orchid, is something that I’ve really been looking forward to working with. I originally heard about cultivating vanilla in magic circles with papayas providing the main fruit crop, as well as the trellis, and perennial chili peppers being a good ground cover bush. Then, I read a while back about a project partnering vanilla vines with cacao trees (what a combo!), and ever since, I’ve been really hip to the idea. It’s one of the few plants that really goes for deep shade, and of course, it’s a great flavor for food and cash crop for markets. However, I never had much luck locating vanilla with which to get the ball rolling.

Lo and behold, The Farm Inn, where we are volunteering in Belize, has quite a few vanilla vines growing amongst the cacao trees, so now, I’ve officially attempted to cultivate my first vanilla here. I’m very much looking forward to doing it for ours.

Katuk (Sauropus androgynous)

Katuk (Courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)

Katuk, sometimes called Sweet Leaf, is an edible understory tree with leaves that are packed with protein, minerals and vitamins. It likes a lot of water but prefers the shade to direct sun. It is quite a common crop in Malaysia and Borneo, where the leaves and shoots are eaten raw and cooked a la spinach. The flavor is a bit nutty, and the trees produce best kept around meter and a half high. These trees are versatile enough to survive up the lowest parts of the US (Florida), where they freeze over winter but will generally return in the spring.

We first discovered and devoured katuk while volunteering on a farm—Totoco—in Nicaragua. While the farmer had struggled with growing any kind of traditional salad green, he’d done well growing katuk and Chaya, which were feed to the pig (and us). Elsewhere, we’ve had trouble finding it.

Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Little Sweet Potato Vine

In the tropics, sweet potatoes grow like crazy. We do little more than sticking a fresh shoot in the ground. They will quickly spread out, creating a thick carpet of ground cover to help keep the soil beneath moist and protected from bad weather elements. Plus, they produce a massive crop of, of course, the starchy sweet potato (we are already familiar with), but the leaves and shoots are also edible and perfect for tropical salads, as lettuce is a lot less likely to succeed in the heat. I’ve seen it work in the sun, and I’ve seen it happily climb about in the partial shade.

We’ve grown lots of sweet potatoes, starting with putting them in our banana circles in Panama and moving on to gardens in Guatemala and now Belize. We love the spud and the greens, and we plan on it being one of our staples in the future.

Brazilian “Spinach” (Alternanthera sisso)

Rogue Malabar Spinach

There seems to be a plethora of perennial leafy plants throughout the tropics that get proclaimed fill-in-the-blank spinach. We are quite familiar with a vine called Malabar spinach, and we have it growing in abundance at The Farm Inn already. We’ve also heard of Ceylon and even tried Okinawan in a meal. We’d love to get our hands on any of these, but I’ve decided to officially list Brazilian spinach because I know its flavor and texture get a little more praise, and it is known to tolerate medium shade. Unfortunately, we’ve not had much luck finding it yet.

That said, we were able to eat quite a bit of Brazilian spinach a few years back when we were volunteering on a farm, Vago’s Place, near the south Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It was growing in abundance with absolutely no maintenance.

Of course, this is only the beginning, only the understory and that’s not even complete. We have others we hope to find and include. There’s galangal and cardamom in the spice section. There’s tea and mulberry on the drink menu. Possibly, with a stroke or two of luck, some mushrooms might work out. But, what a way to fill the dark spaces these would be. Knowing that we’ve already got access to five of the seven is incredible, and hopefully the list keeps on growing.

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