Herbs that grow in shade are excellent for those of us with sun-challenged gardens. The good news is that there are lots of options to choose from. In fact, many of the herbs in this list actually prefer the shade!
I’ve been growing herbs in the shade for several years, and I’ve had great success. In fact, I’ve found that several of them actually prefer it over being in the hot sun all day.
So if you’re looking for herbs that grow in low light areas, then this list is for you! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all of the options you have.
How Much Sunlight Do Herbs Need?
The exact amount of sunlight that herbs need depends on the variety. But, since we cultivate most of them for their leaves, rather than fruits or flowers, many types do not need full sun.
There are several that can grow with less than 8 hours of sunlight per day. In fact, some will thrive with as little as 4 hours of direct light.
Tips For Growing Herbs In The Shade
There’s a bit more to growing herbs in the shade than just planting and watering. Low light gardens tend to have a few unique challenges. Follow these tips for the best success.
- Monitor their growth – When plants start getting tall and leggy, it means they need more light. Pinching them back regularly will help to keep them bushier, but you may need to move them to a sunnier spot.
- Don’t overwater – Herbs growing in the shade need less water than those in full sun, and they hate soggy soil. So make sure to allow them to dry out a bit more between waterings.
- Choose the right varieties – If want more options than just the ones in this list, look for those that prefer cooler weather, will bolt when it’s hot, and types that are harvested for the leaves rather than flowers.
15 Great Herbs That Grow In Shade
This list has 15 of the best types of herbs that grow well in the shade. Browse through and pick out your favorites, or plant all of them if your garden doesn’t get very much sunshine.
All types of thyme will thrive in the shade. It will do just fine with as little as 4-6 hours of sunlight per day (creeping thyme does very well in an area of my yard where it gets about 3 hours of sun).
It’s a fantastic option for beginners too because it’s drought-tolerant, and doesn’t require any special care. In addition to the edible leaves, it gets pretty purple, pink, or white blossoms in summer.
Since it prefers cooler temperatures, oregano (also called winter marjoram) actually does better in the shade. This is especially true if you live in a hot climate.
It will do really well in an area where it’s protected from the intense afternoon rays. Planting it in a spot where it gets less than 6 hours of sun also helps to keep it from taking over your beds. Otherwise, it can be a bit aggressive.
Another herb that actually prefers partial shade, sorrel can survive in a variety of climates, and is excellent for pots too.
To reach its full potential of 12-18”, it needs to be watered regularly. Keep it out of the hot sun, or it will bolt very quickly.
Another shade-loving herb is cilantro (aka coriander). After several years failures, I finally found that it does much better in cool soil, and hates the hot sun.
In fact, it will bolt very quickly when it’s too hot. Mine only gets about 4 hours of sunlight each day, and lasts much longer too.
This low-mounding plant does equally well in containers, and should be watered regularly. Learn how to care for cilantro here.
This might come as a surprise to some, but mint does just as well in low light as it does in a full exposure. It only needs 4-5 hours of sun a day.
In fact, less light will make it grow slower, so it won’t take over your garden as quickly, which is a big win!
This popular and very fragrant plant gets up to 18” tall, and blooms in the summer. It prefers moist soil, and does well in pots or in the ground.
Lots of people enjoy lovage because it looks, smells, and tastes similar to celery. Since it’s in the carrot family, it makes sense that it would prefer partial shade, especially in warm climates.
Give it about 5-6 hours of sun per day, and protect it in the hot afternoon. It doesn’t need a ton of water, but does prefer a rich soil that holds onto moisture.
Contrary to popular belief, rosemary actually does very well in partial shade. Though it will grow slower in low light areas, mine gets 4-6 hours of direct sun, and I have more than enough.
Regardless of where you plant it, keep the soil on the dry side. If you water it too much, it could cause the roots to rot. Learn how to care for rosemary here.
8. Summer Savory
Another excellent herb for shade, summer savory is a staple in my garden. It has a very unique shape with a pungent aroma.
Low light doesn’t seem to effect it’s growth at all in my garden, where it reaches it’s full potential of about 12-18” tall. Be sure to pull it before it blooms for the biggest harvest.
With its stunning orange or yellow flowers, there are several different types of calendula (aka pot marigold). The blossoms are gorgeous, and can be used in cooking, or for making elixirs and beauty products.
Like many of the herbs on this list, it prefers cooler temps, and can thrive in the shade.
With proper watering, they can reach 18-24” tall. Just be sure to deadhead them if you don’t want them to spread.
If you’ve never tried planting perilla before, you definitely should. The purple variety is especially nice, and adds wonderful color to any garden area.
This shade-loving herb is known for its strong peppery aroma. They don’t need a lot of care, and are great in containers too.
Another herb that is commonly planted in the full sun, I find that dill (aka dill weed) actually does better in my shade garden. The heat makes it bloom faster, so it lasts much longer when protected from the intense rays.
Keep the soil evenly moist for the best results, and be sure to pick it before it flowers for the biggest yield. However, do let a few set seed so you can fill your spice rack with them.
Though many times the instructions will tell you to plant parsley in the full sun, it doesn’t tend to perform very well there. In fact, this shade-loving herb will suffer when it gets too hot.
Since it’s a biannual, it will flower the second year. That means you can enjoy it all summer, leave it in your garden through the winter, and get even more the following spring.
Another wonderful herb that grows well in shade is one that you may not be familiar with. Chervil, also known as French parsley, looks similar but has a milder flavor than its more popular relative.
Give it 4-6 hours of sun, and it will happily get up to 18″ tall. As a biannual that blooms the second year, you’ll be able to enjoy this one for several months.
Though they look very delicate, common or culinary sage is a tough herb that grows great in partial or dappled shade.
If you notice it’s starting to get leggy, simply pinch back the tender tips. It needs to be watered regularly, but be careful not to overwater.
If you have problems with basil bolting too fast, or the leaves keep wilting during the heat of summer, try planting it in the shade instead.
It only needs about 6 hours of sunshine a day. There are lots of different varieties to choose from too. Learn how to grow basil here.
There are so many herbs that don’t just grow well in the shade – they prefer it. So, if your garden is sun-challenged like mine, you’ll be happy to know that you have lots of great options!
More About Herb Gardening
Share your favorite herbs that grow best in your shady garden in the comments section below.