7 Herbs That Grow in the Shade

It is a known fact that plants need sunlight to make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. However, there are many plants that can grow well in shady areas with partial sunlight. If you are concerned that your yard or home has limited sunlight for plants to grow, well keep reading.  

Here is our list of the best 7 herbs that will thrive for you in the shade.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

harvesting coriander leaves

Also called cilantro during the young stages, coriander grows as an annual plant, with gardeners planting it during the spring as well as fall. If grown in hot and humid mid-summer, coriander will bolt and the leaves lose their flavor and become bitter, so it’s better to grow coriander in cool and shady places.

However, if you let the coriander plants bloom flowers, you can get sweet-and-spicy aromatic seeds. These are part of many Indo-Pakistani dishes and are used as a spice. You can also save them to sow the next planting season.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

lemon balm

Lemon balm is a low-maintenance and easy-to-grow herb that thrives in full sun. However, this herb needs a break at times and shows that it can grow well in full shade or partial shade. To keep it bushy and compact, trim it regularly. Because of its mild sedative properties, it has long been used in herbal medicines and makes teas and drinks, as well as to garnish salads and many other dishes.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)


Lovage reaps a generous harvest, with every part of the plant eaten, from roots to seeds, stems, and leaves. The plant can become as tall as 6 feet and has green deeply divided leaves, similar in shape to parsley leaves, but flattened. Used in soups, casseroles, salads, and sauces, Lovage tastes like a mix between parsley and celery. The plant blooms tiny yellow flowers in late spring that provide ample nectar for insects.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) 


All chives’ varieties produce a fresh taste and bright green foliage when grown in a shady garden. Chives have a flavor milder than that of their close relatives, shallots, onion, and garlic, and are perennial bulb plants. Chive plants add color to a shade garden and produce seeds if flowers are allowed to bloom.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

a bunch of parsley

These are one of the hardiest herbs that can thrive in many different conditions. When growing parsley in the shade, trim the plant regularly to keep it compact rather than becoming leggy, and start sprawling.

Parsley belongs to the perennial class of plants; it sets seeds by itself if you allow the flowers to produce seeds. All varieties of parsley have immense use in cooking but may have a bit different flavor.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)


Thyme is a fragrant and hardy herb that blooms colors and grows in many sizes. The beauty and fragrance of thyme don’t go away when planted in shade, but the blooming may become less frequent.

Thyme grows best in places with dappled sunlight, like under a tree rather than a complete shade or complete sunlight. Adding thyme, in fresh or dried form to soups, fish, stews, and other meat dishes is a wonderful addition.

Mint (Mentha spp.)

mint herbs

Most of the plants in the Mentha genus grow well in partial shade conditions. Mint is famous for growing vigorously and taking over the entire garden, so it is good to plant it in a separate container. Keep pinching back this super speedy perennial to prevent it from growing leggy stems. The flavor and aroma of mint both make it an essential herb to be grown in every home.

How Much Sunlight is Actually Needed?

The amount of sunlight that herbs need depends on the variety of herbs you are growing. But since most herbs are grown to use their leaves, instead of flowers, seeds, or fruits, they do not need a lot of sunlight. Some herb varieties are hardy and can grow even in places that receive less than 8 hours of sunlight each day. While others may even grow well with around 4 hours of direct sunlight.

What to Consider

Before picking seeds and starting to grow herbs in shade, you must understand what growing in the shade means. There are very few plants on earth that strive with no sunlight at all.

Growing herbs in shade refers to the degree of shade the plant receives, sometimes the plants just receive sunlight for a few hours during the day, and sometimes they remain partly always shaded from the sun. Let’s have a look at the varying degrees of shade.

1.     Full Sun

Full sun means that the place gets more than 6 hours of daily sunlight. Growing plants in northern latitudes where the sun isn’t that strong means that they yield less than the plants receiving sun for the same number of hours, but in southern latitudes.

2.     Partial Sun/ Partial Shade

Places are said to have partial shade or partial sun if they receive 2-6 hours of sunlight daily. A tree that doesn’t have dense foliage provides a dappled shade as well as artificial shades built for the plants.

3.     Full Shade

These are the regions that receive zero sunlight all through the day. Only some selective plants and groundcovers can grow in this condition.

How To Grow Herbs in The Shade?

Planting herbs in the shade can be a bit tricky, as the plants need some different care and maintenance. Here are some tips to successfully grow herbs in the shade:

  • Water carefully: Since the sun is not going to dry the soil of these herbs, you need to water them less than other plants. Let the soil dry before watering, and never let it become soggy.
  • Harvest from time to time: Never let the plant become tall and leggy, pinch off the stems regularly to keep it low and bushy. If you harvest the plant regularly, then it is not able to waste its energy on producing flowers and seeds.
  • Fertilize carefully: If you feed the plants with more fertilizer than they need, it would then be used by the plant to grow weak and spindly stems. Therefore, fertilize them less often than the plants growing in sun.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can herbs grow in the shade?

Herbs may prefer full sun but there are herbs that grow well in areas that are partially sunny or shaded.

2. Do herbs need sunlight to produce essential oils?

Herbs need sunlight to create essential oils, but they still thrive in shady areas.

3. What planters are good to plant herbs?

Plastic containers hold moisture in, and terra cotta dries out the water and keeps the soil drier.

4. How many hours of sunlight will herbs need daily?

Daily, herbs will need 6 – 8 hours of sunlight depending on the types. However, most herbs will grow with at least 2 hours of sunlight and herbs that grow in shade will be able to grow even with much less.

Wrapping Up

You can make your dishes tastier by having an herb garden at home and growing these 7 herbs in the shaded parts of your garden. The herbs listed in this article have their unique flavor and aroma and can be used in a whole lot of different dishes.

Not only will these herbs add color to your garden but will also bring in flavor and aroma into your kitchen. You can confidently start your very own herb garden with these great herbs that grow in the shade.