15 Herbs To Grow In Shade

May 17, 2009


Contrary to popular belief, growing herbs in a shady area of the garden is possible, some of them will even thrive in it. The list below is an excerpt from my forthcoming e-book.

Here are a few herbs that will tolerate a shady position in the garden:

  • Comfrey – this is an invasive herb so choose your spot carefully, it is a very leafy dense herb so good for ground cover. It has lovely flowers too that the bees love. Comfrey is a very versatile and therefore a useful herb to have in the garden or near a vegetable patch.  The leaves can be used as a compost activator and you can also use the leaves to make a good liquid feed although the smell will not be pleasant when brewing!  Leaves left in between rows of vegetables will add nutrients to the soil and also apparently attract slugs away from your crops (haven’t tested this yet). Comfrey leaves have healing properties so are great to have around to use to make comfrey oil or ointments.
  • Lemon Balm  and Mints – these will tolerate shade and most mints are also happy in damp shade as well.
  • Coriander – The most common problem with this herb is that it goes to seed too quickly, one way of slowing this down (apart from making sure you choose the right variety in the first place) is to grow it in the garden in a shady/semi-shady position.
  • Parsley.
  • Sweet Woodruff – this one is good for ground cover and has pretty little white flowers in the spring.
  • Sweet Violet – usually found growing at the edge of woodland, under hedges or shrubs.
  • Lungwort – another pretty plant with speckled leaves and purple/pink flowers (see photo above).
  • Wild Strawberry – these will supply you with vanilla flavoured tiny strawberries and send out runners absolutely everywhere!
  • Box – a traditional hedging plant.
  • Primrose.
  • Chives – a useful herb to have.
  • Angelica.
  • Lily of the Valley – n.b poisonous.
  • Sweet Cicely – great with rhubarb to counter acidity and reduce the quantity of sugar needed in recipes.
  • Chervil.

Feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what other herbs you have successfully grown in shady conditions.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah Head 05.27.09 at 11:12 am

I’ve also got elecampane growing in the deep shade of one border. It always grows and flowers later than the plants in a sunnier border, but it does thrive in it’s own way. Woodland herbs, such as goldenseal, black cohosh and woodsage both plain and curled will grow happily in dappled shade. Shouldn’t forget valerian too, that’s quite happy in shade. Poyntzfield have lists of herbs which are happy in different conditions which are useful to refer to.

Sarah Head’s last blog post..New blog award!

2 maddles 06.05.09 at 1:55 pm

Hello Sarah,
Ah, I knew I’d missed something obvious – I’m actually waiting for an elecampane plant to arrive – it’s for my shady border. I’ve heard it’s good for making cough remedies with.
Thanks for the other ideas too.

3 Stephanie May 03.25.12 at 1:23 am

I live in a flat with a small front garden and a small back garden, The back garden is shady,but not in complete shade. I would very much like to know which herbs would feasible for me to grow among my plants. I choose such flowers as are good companions for my vegetables and herbs..I am always on the lookout for things which would attract bees.Thanks.

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