We all love the sun, right? Well, most of us do. That not only applies to humans, but to plants too. Most plants, herbs, fruit and vegetables need at least full or partial sun to flourish. So, what happens when you have a shady garden? What grows well in the shade?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot of things – including many herbs. These shade-loving herbs are fragrant, look great, and are all delicious. So, you can grow something in the shade and spice up your soups and other meals at the same time.
What Herbs Grow In Low Light?
Looking for something to plant in those shady spots? Look no further. The following eight herbs all grow well in partial shade with relatively little sunlight. Read on for cooking and growing tips:
Flat leaf parsley
Otherwise known as petroselinum crispum neapolitanum, flat leaf parsley is widely loved by chefs around the world and a great addition to your kitchen garden. Easily mistaken for cilantro in appearance, this has a more rounded and robust flavor than it’s curly-leafed brother. A biennial, after two years it will flower and die and need replacing, but before then, it’s durability and its versatility in cooking makes it a pretty obvious addition to a kitchen herb garden.
It can be added during cooking, with its stems also used to add a richer deeper flavor to many dishes. It’s extremely popular in Italian food. As one of the low light herbs, it doesn’t require (or like) endless sun, it will need a little sunlight, so choose a spot with dappled shade or early morning or late afternoon sun. It can be grown in a bed or in pots, from seed or from young plants.
Mentha, the giver of mojitos and caipirinhas. And, if that alone isn’t good reason to grow it, we don’t know what is! This fragrant bright green perennial herb is a virtually foolproof addition to your shady herb garden. It grows in abundance and its versatility as an ingredient makes it useful in both sweet and savory dishes, including many soups. You can use the leaves any time, but they will be strongest before it flowers.
Left to its own devices, mint can quickly take over your garden, so you might want to plant it in a pot, to save it running amok! It loves damp conditions so choose a damp, shady spot where nothing else grows and watch it flourish. Mint likes moist soil, so keep it well watered. It can be prone to fungus, so keep an eye out for any leaf discoloration. It also acts as a great insect repellent, keeping spiders, roaches and ants at bay.
It’s an amazing antioxidant, stomach-settler, nausea rebuffer and allergy-alleviator, making it the first pick of medicinal herbs that grow in shade. Love cats? Grow catmint and watch as your back yard becomes the neighborhood party zone.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
From seed or cuttings, oregano is a staple in the kitchens of all Italians, Greeks and Mexicans. Oregano loves a well-drained, sheltered spot with a little dappled sunlight, so choose your location carefully. Shady spots with partial shade are ideal.
A hardy perennial herb, it needs little attention besides a close eye for aphids. It makes a perfect bedding plant, giving attractive ground cover. Just pay attention to ensuring that you don’t over-water it as it doesn’t love very moist soil. Leaves are best used fresh, or dried at harvest.
Moving predominantly in to Asia, on our culinary herb journey, cilantro (coriandum sativum) is a staple in Asian, Indian and Mexican food. Its strong, pungent flavor isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for adventurous cooks, it’s a must-have.
Grow as a bedding plant, rather than in pots and be aware, it has a limited growing season. It prefers a well-drained, well-fertilized soil with regular watering, but it will go to seed in excessive heat.
Super-easy to grow, these perennials (allium schoenoprasum) are a descendent of the humble onion, giving a tangy taste when snipped on top of dishes. They are great paired with fresh fish or vegetable dishes, where something like garlic would be too overpowering. You can even use the flowers as a pretty edible decoration to your dish! Chives love fertile, well-drained soil and make ideal pot growers or bedding plants.
While they grow almost anywhere, a little sun will help them flourish in your garden. They are great for repelling aphids, so try putting them close to your oregano as a natural defense.
A staple of classic French cuisine, and perfectly paired with seafood and poultry dishes, tarragon (artemisia dracunculus) has a distinctive, aniseed-like flavor. It requires a light, sandy soil that is low in nutrients and needs a warm, sheltered spot to grow. Plant from young seedlings. It only has a short growing time, so harvest a few times in the spring and summer before it dies down. The harvested leaves can be dried, frozen or preserved in white wine vinegar.
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Needing little attention, this early spring bloomer has a strong, celery-like taste. It likes a moist, fertile soil and will do well in partial shade – it’s delicate pinkish flowers also look lovely.
This is another of the low light herbs you can leave to virtually grow itself and will sit alongside your mint plants quite happily. It will however, need plenty of space as it can grow really big! Cook the leaves as you would spinach.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
The fine, featherlike fronds of the dill plant used to be considered a weed once upon a time. It is a fabulous addition to an herb garden, encouraging wildlife to flourish. It likes to be sheltered from the wind, in a well-drained soil and can be grown from seed. The dill plants don’t like to be soaked, but will appreciate a light misting on hotter days.
Dill grows equally happily in a pot or in a bed. Its natural home, when harvested, is in a jar, alongside pickles! One of the medicinal herbs that grow in shade, dill is fabulous for treating digestive issues.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
With a mild aniseed flavor, similar to tarragon, chervil is one of the lesser-known herbs but, like tarragon, can be used in vegetable and egg dishes to add a freshness to the plate. It loves a cool, shady spot, making it a great space-filler for the gaps where nothing else will grow.
It’s self-seeding, so can be grown for years to come after your first harvest. It can be prone to aphids, so keep an eye on the leaves to keep any in check. It grows well with cilantro and dill, and is best in a large tub. Do use it fresh, as it loses flavour if dried.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Another less well-known herb, but makes a great replacement in cooking for parsley. A big perennial, it grows and spreads rapidly, making it a great choice for novice gardeners. It’s brilliant with potatoes or pasta, and the entire plant can be used in cooking. It can survive cold winters and enjoys some sun but will grow well in most soils and in most conditions, making it one of the many low light herbs that grow in shade.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Basil grow in shade?
Basil is not generally thought of as one of the shade herbs. You might be able to get it to grow in shade, but it much prefers full sunlight. Expect the flavor to be reduced if you do manage to get it to grow in the shade.
Can Rosemary grow in shade?
Rosemary does not like the shade, not even light shade. Plant this perennial herb somewhere where it will catch the sun and get at least six hours of sun every day, all year round.
Does Lavender grow in shade?
A few hardy variants can survive in shady conditions, but if you want your lavender plant to thrive you should plant it in a sunny area.