15 Herbs you can grow in a shady garden
03/23/2022 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
15 Herbs you can grow in a shady garden

Most herbs require a fair amount of sun in order to thrive. Without ample sunlight, most herbs will sprawl a bit or grow leggy. Fortunately, there are several herbs that do fairly well even in shady conditions.

Here are 15 herbs you can grow in the shade:

1. Mint

Mint is a hardy herb that can grow under nearly any type of growing condition, including partial or full shade. Take note that it can easily take over your garden if left unchecked, so it’s best to plant mint in containers.

The two most popular mint varieties are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint has a cooling aftertaste due to its high concentration of menthol, while spearmint is lighter and sweeter to the palate. Mint adds a sharp, refreshing flavor to teas, jellies and sauces. It’s also not unusual to see mint paired with chocolate or meat.


2. Red perilla

Red perilla is a member of the mint family. It can thrive in partial shade conditions. It tastes like a mix between cinnamon and anise. Red perilla is most widely used in Asia. In Korean cuisine, for instance, red perilla leaves are marinated with soy sauce, red pepper flakes and sugar to create a spicy side dish that pairs well with meat.

3. Parsley

Parsley is one of those hardy herbs that can tolerate almost any condition. Just make sure to trim it regularly to keep it from sprawling.

Pasta and egg dishes benefit from a sprinkling of chopped parsley because the herb’s light flavor cuts down on heavy creaminess. It also acts as a palate-cleanser. You can even substitute parsley for basil when making pesto. In French and Italian cuisines, parsley is also typically used to flavor stocks, stews and soups.

4. Cilantro

Cilantro is a shade-tolerant herb that is relatively easy to grow, even if you’re starting it from seeds. The entire cilantro plant can be consumed, including the seeds (coriander).

Cilantro’s flavor is described by many as bright and citrusy, but some people find it soapy. Cilantro is a widely used herb in Indian, Mexican and Vietnamese cuisines.

5. Anise

Anise is a low-spreading, bushy herb that grows best in light shade. But it can also grow successfully in a deeper degree of partial shade. Anise leaves and seeds have a strong, licorice-like flavor.

Anise leaves are best added fresh to salads or chopped and used to garnish dishes. Whole or crushed, the leaves can also be added to baked goods, curries, egg dishes and soups. Anise seeds, on the other hand, add flavor to sweet rolls, bread and cookies. Crushed anise seeds can also intensify the flavor of desserts and fruit salads.

6. Chives

Chives look like lawn grass, being a close relative of bulb vegetables like onions. All varieties of chives will grow well in a shady garden.

Chives lend a light and refreshing oniony flavor to foods. Chives also help cut down on the heaviness of rich foods like blue cheese. When finely chopped, chives work well as a garnish.

7. Lemon balm

Lemon balm is an easy-to-grow herb that creates little trouble for gardeners. Reserve fully shaded areas in your garden for lemon balm. Just make sure to regularly trim the plant to keep it from sprawling.

Lemon balm has a long history of use in herbal medicine due to its mild sedative properties. In the kitchen, this herb can be used as a garnish on salads and main dishes or added to teas and other beverages.

8. Thyme

Thyme is a hardy perennial herb that comes in many sizes and blooms colors. Thyme may bloom less if planted in the shade, but its fragrance and beauty will remain. Fresh or dried, thyme is an excellent addition to soups, stews and meat dishes. Thyme can also be used to flavor cheese, lentils and tea, as well as to season poultry.

9. Dill

Dill grows well in partial shade. It can also be easily grown indoors year-round if placed near a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Dill looks like a more delicate fern with soft leaves that have very fine hairs. This herb smells a lot like anise and tastes grassy. It’s best used with seafood, potatoes and eggs.

10. Wild ginger

Wild ginger is a low-spreading, shade-loving plant with heart-shaped leaves. It’s usually used as a ground cover under dense shade and grows wild in woodland regions across the United States. When cultivated in an herb or vegetable garden, wild ginger can deter the growth of unwanted weeds.

Unlike tropical ginger, much of the flavor of wild ginger is in the stems and leaves rather than its actual root. You can brew the leaves and stems to make a ginger tea that tastes almost exactly like tropical ginger, minus the heat.

11. Chervil

Chervil is a delicate, shade-loving herb that belongs to the parsley family. It has a mild flavor reminiscent of anise and licorice, but those flavors don’t come through strongly.

Because of its mild flavor, chervil is often added to recipes where it will not be overpowered by stronger flavors, such as in soup and salad recipes. If used in cooking, chervil is best added at the last minute since its flavor won’t hold up in prolonged cooking. Chervil also makes a great addition to casseroles, sauces and stews.

12. Tarragon

Tarragon is a shade-loving herb that will wilt quickly if exposed to too much sunlight or high temperatures. Once planted, tarragon will grow back every year.

Tarragon is highly aromatic with a subtle licorice flavor. In France, it is known as the “king of herbs” because of its ability to elevate a dish. Tarragon add a fresh, spring taste to a variety of recipes, including sauces, salad dressings and fish or chicken dishes. It can also be added to scrambled or fried eggs, as well as omelets.

13. Sorrel

Sorrel is a perennial herb from the same family as buckwheat and rhubarb. It grows best in full sun but can grow well into the summer if planted in a partially shaded area.

Sorrel has a sour and acidic flavor, which is reminiscent of lemon zest. An extremely versatile ingredient, sorrel can be used raw or cooked to add brightness to a variety of recipes, from rich meat dishes to fortifying teas.

As a rule of thumb, any recipe that could benefit from a squeeze of lemon juice will also benefit from sorrel. Because sorrel can easily overpower mild dishes, it’s best put to use it in combination with other rich ingredients, such as eggs, fish and cheese. Sorrel can also be wilted and added to soups.

14. Golden oregano

Golden oregano gets its name from its yellow foliage, which is at its brightest in cooler weather. In the summer, its yellow leaves are covered in delicate pink and purple flowers. Golden oregano is a robust creeper, so it’s best to plant it in containers.

Golden oregano needs full sun but will grow even in partial shade as long as it’s planted in fertile soil. This herb is very fragrant and has the classic oregano smell and taste. You can trim the leaves any time for cooking.

15. Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is a shade-loving weed known for its irritating leaves. The nettles themselves are edible and simple to prepare as long as you handle them correctly.

Start by blanching the nettles to wilt their tiny hairs. Leave them in a colander to drain and dry completely. Squeeze out any excess moisture before using the nettles in salads or cooking them into stews and soups.

Growing herbs in areas with less than full sun is a great way to make the most of every inch of your garden.




100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Related Articles
comments powered by Disqus

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Popular articles