How to Grow Herbs in a Hot Shady Area


Herbs add flavor to meals and can be used as natural air fresheners or brewed as teas. Instead of buying dried herbs, grow your own in a backyard herb garden. Though most herb species do best in full sun, warm-climate gardeners with a shady backyard can still grow a successful herb garden with a few modifications to help the herbs thrive.

Step 1

Amend the soil with 3 to 4 inches of aged compost. This provides rich organic material to boost the soil's nutrient levels while also increasing the soil's ability to retain moisture, which is crucial in a warm climate.

Step 2

Plant shade-tolerant herbs that thrive in warm climates. These includes chervil, calendula, dill, bee balm and chamomile, according to the North Carolina State University. Some Mediterranean herbs like rosemary also thrive in warm climates and can tolerate shade. Because warmth is relative to your climate, consult a regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) or nursery for additional plant suggestions.

Step 3

Mulch around the herbs with a light-colored mulch, such as straw. Mulch conserves moisture, reducing water loss in a hot growing environment. A light-hued mulch also helps reflect sunlight back toward the surrounding herbs, which is helpful in a shady herb garden. Use 2 to 3 inches of mulch for sufficient water retention.

Step 4

Water the herb garden regularly as required to support your specific herb species. Some are thirstier than others. Pay attention to the plants' leaves; wilting or yellowing are common symptoms of drought stress. More water is typically required in a warm growing environment than a cool one, since the plants will expend more moisture through transpiration (evaporation through plant foliage).

Step 5

Pinch back the tips of the herb plants' branches. Regardless of their species, all herbs will grow toward the strongest point of sunshine. This can result in leggy, bare-looking herbs in a shady herb garden. Pinching the growing tips forces the herb to branch out, creating a lusher and denser plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Aged compost
  • Shade-tolerant herbs
  • Mulch


  • "Your Backyard Herb Garden"; Miranda Smith; 1999
  • "The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs"; Lesley Bremness; 1994
  • University of Florida: Warm Climate Production Guidelines for Herbs
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Herbs for the Home Gardener

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Find a Cooperative Extension Office
Keywords: herb garden, plant herbs, shade tolerant herbs

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.