Best Culinary Herbs to Grow in Your Shade Container Garden

Posted on Mar 28 2012 - 1:03am by Mike Lieberman

You were all happy to start your herb garden.

You picked out your location and determined how much sunlight it gets.

Your happiness turned to sadness when you realized that you only get 3-4 hours of sun.

Those dreams of an herb garden were dashed. At least you thought so. In that shaded space, you can still grow your herb garden.

Common herbs that grow well in the shade

There are a few dozen herbs that will grow well in the shade, but I’m not going to list all of those for you.

Why not? Because having feverfew, lady’s mantle and lovage aren’t very practical to grow when you are starting out.

My goal is to provide you with practical herbs that you know what to do with and can use, such as:

Those aren’t the only ones, but they are the most common and useful. There is nothing wrong with borage and sweet woodruff, but I don’t think that’s what you are going to start with.

Your turn

Share this post with family and friends to help them start their herb garden. Then in the comments below, tell me the herbs that you are growing in the shade.

Photo courtesy of Murugananth C on Flickr

  • Sandi

    Great herb news!  I do grow chives, oregano, thyme and basil…..they all do well and since we had a super mild winter several are sprouting new growth!  Glad the growing season is here and I really enjoy your gardening info!!  Thanks, Sandi

  • No name available

    last year I did parsley this year its going to be cilantro for sure thanks

  • Laurel

    I like salad burnet, it’s ferny looking leaves are very ornamental, and the fresh green leaves have a mild hint of cucumber. Best used fresh, it enhances seafood, salads, drinks and makes a great substitute for cilantro in homemade salsa if you are serving it to people who don’t like cilantro, or just want a fresh change. Salad burnet is a perennial herb that is evergreen in mild winter zones.

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Mike Lieberman

    I see some guacamole in your future.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nice. When starting out most people don’t know what salad burnet is. Want to keep it to the basics.

  • Raven

    Of your list, I am growing. Chives,Cilantro,Mint,Oregano. My chives plant is six years old at this time and is doing well. I had it in a shady area with some overhang from my porch. I had chives up until November. I have been able to enjoy my chives all year long through freezing them in zip loc bags. Cut them, wash them, cut them into bite sized pieces, and toss them in a zip loc bag. Lay it flat in your freezer. They actually stay separated and are easy to scoop out and put into dishes. Last year, I also grew marjoram and lemon verbena in the shade. I staked the lemon verbena because it craved a little more sun, but it leafed out well.

  • Raven

    Another herb I grow with success in the shade is paprika yarrow. That plant is four years old and adds color to the area with its bright red blooms. Yarrow seems to grow well everywhere. I have another in direct sun that is five feet tall and a huge bush. It has gold flowers and is a constant bloomer.

  • Raven

     My green and purple basil have done well in a shaded area in the past. Cold is the only thing that freaks them out.

  • Mike Lieberman


  • LindaJean

    Chives,Cilantro,Mint,Oregano., lots of mint. I am now interested in salad burnet. 

  • Mike Lieberman

    Hahaha. One at a time. Start slowly 😉

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much for this post and the one about shade vegetables. Really helpful. There’s a lot of mint already growing wild in my mom’s yard, so I’m going to grow some oregano and chives. Yum and thanks for the post!:) 

  • Kitcia Amaya

    Hello there lovely friend!
    I will be growing chives, mints, cilantro, oregano and parsley… thank you ever so much…

  • Kitteemommee

    My garden space is on the north side of our house :/ And I live in Seattle. I’ve been growing mints, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, & lemon balm there for two years now successfully.

  • Jennifer Patalsky

    I have a shady patio and grow almost all of those already and they are all doing well! Thanks, love your helpful tips.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Yum indeed.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thank you for taking action.

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Mike Lieberman

    that’s what’s up!

  • Jessica Braun

    I really want to try growing ginger, has anyone had success with it?

  • Mike Lieberman

    You will.

  • Ivyplant

    it would be nice to have a comprehensive list of those ‘few dozen’ to see what’s on there I might want to grow…

  • Mike Lieberman

    There are plenty of those lists out there. Wanted to be practical and short with this one.

  • Veganishmom

    My side garden get’s little light, and i was just trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with it this year.  I think I’m going to have to dedicate part of that to my herb garden.  Thank you so much for this post!

  • Veganishmom

    My side garden get’s little light, and i was just trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with it this year.  I think I’m going to have to dedicate part of that to my herb garden.  Thank you so much for this post!

  • Megan

    my back patio would get more light if the apartment management would agree to trimming the tree next to it…  darn thing blocks out half my light!!

  • Stacy Brewer

    Wait, I can grow ginger? Hold the phone! Hit me up with a post about growing ginger! :)

  • Mike Lieberman

    Herb garden it is!

  • Starbird

    Having moved from a house with 1/2 acre to an apart ALL shade, I plan on growing all you mentioned and by the comments below I will also try Basil. Also someone mentioned you know of Vegies that grow in the shade. Can you point me to a link for that info? Thanks

  • frances

    rosemary grows well in shade? my terrace gets no direct sun at all, but alot of indirect light….think this will work?

  • Gracia

    My back yard is surrounded by trees so gets very little sun, however I planted some Borage last year and it grew large and healthy.

  • Jonathan

    I have some plants and grow lights in a garden level window. The area outside is shaded but gets tons of light from my grow lights. I bet I can grow anything there. Haven’t tried yet. Just thought I would share the idea.