25 Herbs That Grow in the Shade

These fragrant and tasty herbs can tolerate a little shade.

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Mint

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

Chives produce 6" to 12" 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 climates.

Parsley

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

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 the 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

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.

Thyme

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

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. This biennial loves woodland conditions, so grow it in moist soil and partial shade.

Anise

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

Meadowsweet

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

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.

Borage

These prolific self-seeding annuals are well known for their striking blue star-shaped flowers during the warmer months. Borage is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a cucumber-like taste and is delicious in salads and soups. Borage prefers light shade but can often take full sun in colder climates.

Chervil

Chervil is part of the carrot family and is popular in French cuisine. It's a prominent ingredient in fines herbes blends used to flavor eggs, fish and salads. It has an anise-like flavor that works well mixed with bitter greens and spicy arugula.

Stinging Nettle

This herb is well-known for its medical benefits. It has been used for centuries to treat ailments such as muscle and joint pain, eczema, arthritis, gout, UTI and anemia. Nettles have a spinach-like flavor and can be eaten steamed and tossed with dressing or eaten fresh as a salad green.

Corsican Mint

Corsican mint features compact, rounded leaves and makes a lovely and fragrant ground cover in moist, shady areas. Plant the mint between paving/stepping stones, patio blocks or in rock gardens. The petite leaves may be used to flavor teas, in salads, in cooked foods or as a garnish.

Musk Geranium

Musk geranium is an aromatic, hardy perennial with gray-green lobed leaves and pink flowers. It's most valued for its distinctive, warm musky fragrance, primarily used in perfume and potpourri. For best results, plant musk geranium where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

Sweet Cicely

All parts of sweet cicely are edible and impart a sweet anise flavor with a touch of celery. Use the fresh leaves and seeds in fruit dishes or baked products. The roots can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Sweet Cicely can tolerate some sun but prefers shadier nooks.

Wild Ginger

Wild ginger is an excellent shade plant often uses as a ground cover. It's not related to culinary ginger, but the roots of wild ginger produce a scent that is similar to ginger. Although early settlers used it as a ginger substitute, it's best used as a ground cover.

Lovage

The leaves, stems, roots and seeds of lovage are edible. It prefers sun but will grow in well in part shade. It has a strong tart, lemon flavor that works well in salads, soups and stews or as a tea.

Sorrel

Sorrel is a perennial with broad lance-shaped bright green leaves. It has a tart, lemony flavor and makes a great addition to soups, sauces and salads.

Holy Grass

Holy grass, also known as sweet grass, is a sacred plant by Native Americans and was often used in purification ceremonies, crafts and for medical purposes. Its scent is a combination of vanilla and newly mown hay. Use this handsome herb as a specimen plant in a herb garden.

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