5 Recommended Herbs for Your a Shady Garden

flowering herbs

The Spruce / K. Dave  

Most plants, especially herbs and vegetables, require a fair amount of sun in order to thrive. Five hours of sun is considered the minimum for most of edible. Fortunately, though, there are several herbs that do fairly well in shady conditions—where the plants receive at least a few hours of shade each day. Deep shade will cause most herbs to sprawl a little and grow leggy as they reach out for sunlight, but many will grow admirably in dappled shade or in a spot that gets a short stretch of direct sun each day.

Here are five herbs that will do quite well in part-shade conditions.

  • 01 of 05

    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)


    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (grown as an annual)
    • Color Varieties: Greenish white (not grown for the flowers)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil

    Parsley is a biennial herb normally grown as an annual. It is one of those herbs that can tolerate almost any condition. As with any herb that will be spending much of its time in the shade, keep parsley trimmed to keep it from sprawling. Plants that grow in the shade tend to get leggy, and by frequent trimming, you can keep the plant compact.

    There are many different forms of parsley available, each with a slightly different taste. Parsley is a biennial plant that will self-seed in the garden if plants are allowed to flower and set seed. Fresh or dried, parsley has almost unlimited use in cooking.

  • 02 of 05

    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

    lemon balm

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: White to pale yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture well-drained soil

    Lemon balm is an easy-to-grow perennial herb that creates little trouble for gardeners. You can grow lemon balm in full shade or dappled sunlight, with great results, but keep it trimmed to keep the shape compact;

    Lemon balm has a long history as an herbal medicine with its mild sedative properties. It can be used in teas and drinks, or as a garnish on salads and main dishes.

  • 03 of 05

    Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)


    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium, well-drained soil

    All varieties of chives will grow well in a shade garden. Although there may be less blooming, the fresh taste and bright green habit will flourish.

    Chives are perennial bulb plants, a close relative of the onion, garlic, and shallots, though with a milder taste. Like many herbs, they will self-seed in the garden if flowers are allowed to set seed. It is a favorite plant for pollinators, such as honey bees and butterflies. Try using chives to fill in a shade garden backdrop to add color.

  • 04 of 05

    Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)


    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pale purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Thyme is a perennial herb that comes in many sizes and blooms colors. You can add this fragrant but hardy herb between your pavers if you have a shady sitting area.

    When planted in the shade, thyme may bloom less, but the heady fragrance and beauty will always remain. Thyme does best in dappled sunlight rather than deep shade. It dislikes wet locations but is ideal for dry part shade. Thyme is an excellent addition, fresh or dried, to soups, stews, and fish or meat dishes.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Mint (Mentha spp.)


    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9; sometimes grown as an annual in cooler climates
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, moist, well-drained soil

    The members of the Mentha genus include many species, most of which will grow fairly well in part shade. Because of its vigorous habit, it is a good idea to plant mint in a container that can be sunk into the ground to keep it from taking over the garden completely. You must keep this fast-growing perennial herb pinched back hard, as it will grow leggy while trying to find some light. Mint is a great filler for those shade garden designs that need some extra specimens.