mixed herbs

Herbs for Growing in Shade

We often associate herbs with sunshine, and it is true that many of the Mediterranean herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano will grow best in sun. If your garden is short of sun or you have a balcony which only has the benefit of limited sun, there are some good culinary Herbs which will grow well, and in fact grow better, in semishade. 

You can grow most herbs in partial shade, but some will do less well because they are really sun loving. If grown in partial shade, the Mediterranean herbs will require very good drainage. A shady area of the garden can become quite cold and damp in the winter, which are not ideal conditions to overwinter herbs. Adding matter to the soil will help, such as leaf mould, composted bark, horticultural sand or grit which will all improve the drainage.

Check out growing information 12 of the most popular sun lovely herbs. 

The herbs below are more suited to shade. 

Flat leaf Parsley


Flat leaf parsley will take dappled shade and is a culinary staple. The hardest thing with Parsley is to get it to germinate. It can be slow and sometimes it is a case of sow, wait, and sow again. Parsley seed can take up to 25 days to germinate. 

You can buy parsley plants and if so, I would recommend splitting the plant into 2/3 and planting to grow on to get good value. I also plant out used supermarket herbs which will grow back over the summer. 

Parsley is very hardy. I harvest it right up to December and it continues to thrive.



Chives hit the spot in many ways. They are a really useful culinary herb and often chives are used as a garnishes especially on potatoes, add into salads, egg mayonnaise sandwiches and omelettes, creamy chicken and fish dishes, and to add flavour to vegetable stocks and soups.

In addition Chives have the bonus of being really bee friendly. A large clump of chives in the summer will have lots of bees buzzing around. Chives grow up to around 30 cms and so make a great edging plant, ideal for rockeries, containers and front of the border. Chives are really versatile.



There are lots of different flavours of Mint, Apple Mint, Spearmint, Ginger Mint and even chocolate mint. The most commonly grown for cooking is Mentha spicata, spearmint, which is also known as garden mint. It is hardy, but tends to get leathery leaves after a season and is often best grown as a fresh plant each spring. It will tolerate dappled or partial shade. Mint is very vigorous for which reason it is best not to plant it in a border, where it can take over and be hard to eradicate. Plant in containers and keep it contained.



Coriander will tolerate dappled shade and can be directly sown outside from late May onwards into a veg plot or containers. It is best to sow successively every 3/4 weeks to keep it cropping. Even though it is tolerant of shade, a cool wet summer maybe not help to produce the best crop.

The leaves are a cut and come again crop, if you want the seeds, do not cut the leaves as the plant will produce a tall white flower on which the seeds will form.


Golden Oregano

Golden Oregano will tolerate partial shade, although Oregano is more sun loving. Oregano is very vigorous and has a tenancy to self seed around. It is closely related to Marjoram, and goes well in Greek dishes, lamb eggs and pizza. It has another plus point, which is that the bees, and pollinators, love it and grow next to Sedum and you can have a host of bees and butterflies.



Tarragon will also tolerate partial shade and ideally likes morning sun and afternoon shade. The best flavoured Tarragon is French which you cannot buy as seed only as small plants. It needs well-drained soil and winter protection. Russian tarragon is coarser and fully hardy. If you manage to overwinter, which is  not easy,  Tarragon it is worth dividing in the spring to create a new plant.

Other shade tolerant herbs

You can also grow Dill (which is an annual) Rocket, Mizuma, lemon balm, Pak Choi, and wild garlic. You can also plant rosemary and Basil as long as there is some sun during the day.

last updated 09.03.2022