How to Get Your Container Garden the Sunlight it Needs

Alongside water and soil, the sun is one of the main sources of life for a plant. Plants use energy from the sun to grow and develop, ultimately resulting in the harvest you love.

Getting too much or too little sun is one of the biggest reasons container gardens fail. In this article, we break down how much sun your container garden needs and how to make sure your plants get what they need.

How much sun does my plant need?

Every plant is different. Each vegetable needs a different amount of sunlight to thrive at its fullest.

When you purchase a plant (from us or another source), you will be told whether that plant needs Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade, or Full Shade. These are standardized terms to refer to a specific amount of sunlight per day.

Full Sun is 8+ hours of direct sunlight each day, Partial Sun is 6 hours, Partial Shade is 4 hours, and Full Shade is less than 2 hours of direct sunlight every day or no direct sunlight at all. (There aren’t very many full shade plants.)

These lengths are approximate and vary depending on where you live. If you grow in the northern part of the country, Full Sun is closer to 8-10 hours of the day, while if you go to the desert Southwest, Full Sun is only 6 hours of sun in the morning.

The chart below details which plants are partial sun and which are full sun.

Partial Shade/Partial Sun Veggies
(3-6 hours)
Full Sun Veggies (8 hours)
Bok Choi
Collard Greens
Herbs (all)
Leaf Lettuce
Swiss Chard

How do I know my plant is getting enough sunlight?

Your plant will tell you. A sunlight-deficient plant has stretched out or spindly stems and yellow floppy leaves. Too much sunlight will create yellow leaves with brown edges and dehydrated lower leaves.

As a rule of thumb, “fruit” plants need Full Sun. This includes veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash. Leaf and root veggies will usually tolerate some shade; roots need 6 hours of sun while leaf veggies can survive with four hours of direct sunlight.

On the other hand, herbs are the shaded superheroes. They’ll tolerate the least amount of light—especially if they’re of the mint family — and can be grown indoors. Herbs are a fashionable solution to a lack of direct sunlight in and around your home, especially for the urban chef.

How do I make sure my container garden gets enough sunlight?

Follow the sun! You can either physically move your container garden to follow (or avoid) the sun or find a permanent spot that works year-round.

Before planting, choose a spot you think will work (remember: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west). Then, track the amount of sunlight that the spot gets throughout the day. If that time matches your plant’s needs, you’re good to go.

If you have any other concerns or questions regarding sunlight, reach out to our Grow Pros for expert advice by emailing

Container Gardens Sunlight - Gardenuity Grow Kits