15 Herbs That Grow in the Shade

These fragrant herbs can tolerate a little shade.

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Mint is one of the best choices for a shady spot. The culinary favorite grows so fast and so easily that if not carefully tended to, it can take over other plants. For best results, make mint a container plant or pot it before adding it to garden beds. In the shade, mint can sprawl toward sunlight, so keep it trimmed to prevent it from getting leggy.


Chives produce 6 to 12-inch clumps of grass-like leaves that can be clipped and added to salads, stews and other dishes. Though chives prefer full sun, they will tolerate a considerable amount of shade, especially in hot Southern climates.


Flat-leaf and Italian parsley grow best with rich, moist soil and light shade. Though typically treated as an annual, parsley is a biennial and will overwinter in zone 6 and above.


Cilantro will quickly bolt and set seeds under the hot sun, so this herb actually prefers a little shade. Grow it directly from seed after chance of frost has passed — cilantro develops a large taproot and hates being transplanted. Once cilantro does bolt, you can harvest the seeds, called coriander, to spice up savory dishes.


Tarragon is a perennial herb favored for its aromatic, licorice-flavored leaves that are used in salads, seasoning mixes and vinegars. It's easiest to grow tarragon from cuttings or seedlings; it appreciates sun in the morning and afternoon shade.

Golden Oregano

Most varieties of oregano need full sun; however, the leaves of golden oregano, 'Aureum', can fry under the sun, so it does best in partial shade.

Wild Bergamot

Resistant to deer, drought and powdery mildew, wild bergamot produces lavender blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. You can also steep the leaves for a flavorful tea.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a perennial that—as its name suggests—produces fragrant leaves with a minty, citrus scent that is often used to flavor tea, fruit, salads and marinades for chicken and fish. Trim it often, especially in shady spots, to keep it from getting leggy.


Most varieties of thyme will tolerate part shade. Let the soil slightly dry out between waterings. Try planting it with other flowers and herbs for a fragrant container.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff produces a mat of fragrant, star-shaped leaves. Try using it as a groundcover for shady borders in your garden.


Angelica has been cultivated as a medicinal herb and the leaves and stems of Angelica archangelica are edible (but be careful to avoid consuming its root, which is poisonous), with a sweet flavor similar to celery. The biennial loves woodland conditions, so grow it in moist soil and partial shade.


Anise thrives in light shade and is favored for its licorice-like scent and flavor.


Meadowsweet is a perennial herb with fernlike leaves native to Europe and West Asia, where it grows easily in damp meadows. A cousin of roses, its fragrant leaves can be used to sweeten tea, wine and desserts. Its flowers, which bloom from June through September, attract butterflies and bees.

Red Perilla

Perilla, also called shiso, is an herb from the mint family that can take some shade. Red perilla has an anise-like flavor, while green perilla tastes more like cinnamon. In Japan, green perilla is used in sushi, soups, and tempura, or added to rice. In Korea, a larger variety is marinated and used as a wrap for barbecue or eaten raw in salads.


Spicebush is super-fragrant, edible and does well in partial shade. Scented blooms appear in late winter to early spring, before leaves unfurl on branches. Fall color features yellow shades, and when leaves drop, female plants display red berries that beckon birds. Be sure to plant both male and female plants to get berries.

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