When I first started testing out my hand at gardening, I knew I wanted a herb garden. Herb gardens have always seemed to me like they are the crux of home gardens- that little patch of soil that houses the leaves that can improve and amplify any edible item. In addition, most herbs are rich in antioxidants and are known to bolster immunity and metabolism. It is a no-brainer, is it not?
Herb gardens are, in reality, quite easy to grow. For city dwellers whose houses come with limited space, an actual garden is not always present. A balcony suffices, or even a box by the window sill.
Herbs, like any other plant, have their own specific criteria for sun and shade, water, and air. Some varieties prefer the sun, while some thrive in the shade. When creating a herb garden in the confines of your home, it is important to keep the classifications in mind- group the shade-loving plants together, for example.
This not only ensures that produce remains fresh and frequent, but prevents unnecessary relocation of the pots depending on the time of the day.
21 Herbs that Grow Well In The Shade
1. Bee Balm
Bee Balm is a flowering herb, the leaves, and bloom of which are both edible and bear distinctive flavors. The leaves are an interesting juxtaposition of sage and oregano and go very well with roasted meat. The flowers are milder in flavor and are usually added to fruit salads for a floral, slightly tart edge.
Bee Balms like the shade, indeed they flourish away from direct exposure to the sun. The herb is susceptible to mildew, which makes good ventilation a necessary prerequisite.
The soil should ideally be well-drained and rich.
Pro Tip: The leaves can also be used for flavored tea.
Another flowering part( the blooms are bright orange and yellow), this herb has a unique spicy taste that compliments soups and salads well. The dried flowers can be used to flavor teas and other beverages.
Calendula is an annual plant that is sturdy and has a long shelf life. The flowers, being bright and gaudy, attract pollinators. This herb does need some sun, ideally around 4 hours a day. Direct exposure to the sun is discouraged- harsh light can cause the delicate petals to scorch.
Good soil is necessary, especially when calendula is grown in the shade.
Licorice in a leaf, that is how I like to think of chervil. Sometimes referred to as french parsley, chervil has ferny green foliage and is used in a variety of dishes- soups, salad, rice, and risotto.
A cool-season plant, this, chervil is also a fast grower and can be harvested within one and a half months after being planted. Pruning is recommended once the herb is more than 4 inches in length. Young leaves can be plucked too- they have a milder, more fragrant taste.
The soil in which it is grown should ideally be cool, well-drained. The use of compost is encouraged.
Chives are the herb popularly known as ‘spring onions’. They have long hollow stems ending in bulbous nodes. They are perennials, and quite like partial shade. Also a flowering plant, the plant has spherical lavender blossoms that bloom during the summer months.
Chives like rich, well-drained soil. The use of a fertilizer is recommended, although some care must be taken to choose the right kind given the texture and kind of soil.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm, as the name suggests, has lemon-scented leaves. It can be used in place of lemon- in soups and salads. They are used in teas and flavored beverages, as well as in certain citrus-based marinades. Lemon balm leaves also have a mint flavor that sets them apart from the fruit.
Lemon balm has the innate ability to adapt to different kinds of soil conditions, although it is most compatible with rich, fertile soil that is able to retain moisture. It likes the shade, although some sunlight every day is necessary to stimulate growth. [Cutting the plant after harvest also stimulates growth.]
Pro Tip: Harvesting before the plant actually blooms produces the strongest flavor.
An annual herb, cilantro, or coriander is a staple in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is a cold season herb and does particularly well in shade. The leaves are called cilantro- they are fresh and fragrant and are most commonly used as a garnish for rice-based dishes. The seeds( which care called coriander) have an earthy flavor that can be used as per requirement and preference.
Loamy soil is favored by this herb, loamy soil with an abundance of organic matter. The leaves should be snipped off from the outer edges once the plant reaches a height of 4 inches or above. This will stimulate growth.
Pro Tip: Coriander seeds should ideally be harvested when they start to turn brown.
Mint is a very diverse herb and a personal favorite. Known for its distinctive pungency and a cooling effect, it is used in beverages, soups, salads, and dessert. This herb also comes in various sizes and shapes- some varieties are self-pollinators, some are flowering, etc.
Mint does well in shade but requires a couple of hours of sunlight every day. Moisture-retaining, fertile soil is recommended. A mint plant in optimum conditions can sometimes be invasive, so in the absence of adequate space, regular pruning is necessary.
A tall perennial with green fronds and bright yellow flowers, lovage is a herb which bears resemblance to celery( in terms of taste). It is fast-growing, and can reach a maximum height of as much as six feet. The entire plant is edible and can be used- the leaves, the stalks, and even the roots and seeds.
Lovage has specific requirements- loamy soil, frequent watering, and 4 hours of sunlight a day. Cutting the flowers back induces better growth, causing the herb to have a greater abundance of foliage.
9. Greek Oregano
A sturdy perennial, growing Greek oregano is rather simple. Oregano seeds are most commonly used as a garnish on Italian dishes like pizza and pasta. The leaves are used too ( they have a smoky, slightly sour taste) and are a fixture in Eastern European cuisines.
Greek oregano tolerates partial shade, even though it does need some sun. Loamy soil that can retain moisture is the best fit. The plant should ideally be harvested before the flowering season, this results in the strongest flavor with respect to the leaves.
A biennial herb that is usually grown annually, parsley is popular and with good reason. It pairs well with most kinds of food and does particularly well with a savory selection. The herb itself is a small plant, with distinctive serrated leaves that are characterized by a waxy, slightly woolly texture.
As with most of the other herbs on the list, parley likes the shade but also needs the sun. Soil rich in organic matter is beneficial for the plant’s growth. When harvesting the leaves, it is advisable to start from the base of the plant and move upwards.
Thyme is a woody shrub and has elliptical gray-green leaves perched on thin stems. It has a strong savory undertone, which makes it the perfect leafy condiment for most meats and fish, charred vegetables, and some select desserts.
Thyme is a fairly hardy plant and does not require a lot of upkeep. Watering, of course, is recommended but it does not perish in a lack of moisture- it is eminently drought-tolerant. It is a cool-season crop and prefers dry, sandy soil. Harvest season falls between the autumn and winter months.
When plucking or pruning the leaves, make sure to leave at least a 3-inch long stalk so that the plant can grow back.
A perennial herb with a distinctive star-anise/licorice taste, tarragon is most popularly used in French cuisine. It is used to flavor sauces and dips, while the leaves are sometimes used as a garnish for roasted meats.
Tarragon grows in the shade, admirably well. It has a penchant for loamy well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.
The plant does not produce seeds, which leaves young saplings and cuttings as the ways to ensure propagation and cultivation.
Pro Tip: Tarragon has delicate leaves, and should ideally be plucked using by running one’s fingers from the bottom of the tree to its top.
Sorrel is a perennial herb characterized by an acidic taste that works very well when flavoring spicy soups and salads. The leaves can be consumed fresh or cooked.
Sorrel plants are grown in a rich, loamy soil. They ought to, preferably, be exposed to a few hours of sun every day. The judicious use of fertilizer is recommended in order to boost growth and immunity.
The blossoms are usually cut in order to stimulate better growth, which sometimes continues well into fall. Young leaves should ideally be picked as soon as the plant hits a height of 4 inches.
14. Golden Oregano
Oregano is known to do well in the sun, this variety of it however does not. Golden oregano is a specific sub-variety of the infamous pizza-flavoring herb and has a similar smokey taste and texture.
The sun, though, it does not like. The leaves have a tendency to get scorched when directly exposed to light.
This herb is best suited for plantation and growth in partial shade, in the vicinity of light.
A medicinal herb that can be used to flavor teas and other beverages, the angelica herb is a rather tricky herb to have in your home. It has a lot of health benefits- it is known to alleviate nervous disorders and can boost immunity. And it is surprisingly flavorsome- it is fairly sweet and tastes a lot like celery.
However, the roots of this plant are poisonous and one must be careful around them.
It is biennial and has an inclination toward woodland conditions. It likes partial shade and moist soil.
Meadowsweet is a fragrant fern and a member of the rose family. It has a springy, wispy appearance and grows naturally in Europe and West Asia.
As a flowering plant, it is also a self-pollinator. The flowers are small and white, and they attract many birds and bees when in bloom.
The leaves of this herb are edible. They have a particular fragrant aroma- slightly smoky and sharp, that can be used to flavor teas, summer drinks, and certain varieties of wine. It has been favored by sommeliers who use meadowsweet to open up the taste of the wine.
17. Red Perilla/Shiso
A herb commonly used in Japanese or Korean cuisine, perilla comes in two varieties- green and red. Green perilla has widespread use- in sushi, ramen, and sashimi. Red perilla is the more uncommon of the two. It bears resemblances to a coriander bunch- the leaves are similarly shaped and sized, except that they are red.
Red perilla has an anise-like flavor. It likes the shade and favors well-drained soil with moisture-retentive properties.
It can be used to flavor rice and broth.
Fragrant, edible, and bearing a unique sharp flavor, spicebush is a herb you can add to your shady home garden.
It is a flowering plant. The blooms appear between late autumn and early spring. Another distinctive feature of the plant is that the flowers appear well in advance of the leaves.
Once the leaves are shed, the plant grows red berries that attract a myriad of birds and bees. It is necessary to plant both male and female specimens, however, for this phenomenon to occur.
A herb used for both medicinal and culinary purposes, borage is a self-seeding annual that is known for striking blue flowers that blossom during warmer months.
It does prefer the shade but is known to tolerate the sun in colder climes. A delicious, fragrant herb with a faint cucumber-like taste, borage can be used to flavor soups, salads, cold cuts, and Mediterranean dishes. It is sometimes also used to flavor beverages.
20. Stinging Nettle
Every once in a while, you come across a plant so beneficial that it is foolhardy to not have a specimen in one’s garden.
Nettles are known for a myriad of health benefits- they can be used to alleviate muscle and joint pain, they help keep eczema and arthritis in check, they are used to cure inflamed gout, in case of a urinary tract infection and are often recommended to people with anemia.
They taste like spinach and can be eaten either fresh or cooked.
21. Sweet Cicely
A flowering plant that likes the shade and cool climes, sweet cicely can be eaten whole. To put it simply, every part of the plant is edible- be it the leaves, roots or stem.
It has delicate fern-like foliage and clusters of white flowers. It grows well in the shade and has a penchant for cool, dry soil.
Sweet cicely is also an exemplary medicinal herb, known for treating the throat, urinary tract, and digestive problems. It is used to flavor tea.
There you have it, 21 different herbs that grow well in shade.
In conclusion, it is always important to chalk out the details and logistics of your home before you go plant shopping- be it the available space, the exposure to sunlight, or the weather conditions. Once you have the preliminaries figured out, it is remarkably easy to pick out herbs that will thrive in the home!