How to Grow Herbs in the Shade


Although most herbs grow best in full sun, a number can tolerate partial shade. Herbs that can tolerate partial shade include chervil, dill, cilantro, angelica, chamomile, catnip, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint and chives. Growing herbs in the shade is no different than growing them in the sun. They do best in soil that drains well and will benefit from soil amendments and fertilization. Herbs growing in shade may not need as much water because of lower solar evaporation.

Step 1

Select a shady location for the herbs. Consult the spike included with most nursery seedlings for planting distances.

Step 2

Dig the planting area to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and turn the soil.

Step 3

Break the soil with a hoe so that the largest clumps are no bigger than a golf ball.

Step 4

Add 2 inches of compost to the bed. Mix the compost and soil with a rake, trying to reduce the size and number of clumps.

Step 5

Set the herbs in their pots in the desired location in the garden to visualize the spacing and ensure that the herbs will fit in the allotted space.

Step 6

Dig a hole about the size of the plant's rootball.

Step 7

Plant the herb in the hole and cover the roots.

Step 8

Give the herbs 1 to 2 inches of mulch to help discourage weed growth and to retain water.

Step 9

Give the planted herbs 3 or 4 inches of water. Water slowly to reduce the amount of runoff.

Step 10

Give the herb patch 2 inches of water every three to seven days, depending on your climate. In drier climates, water every three days and every seven days in more humid regions. Feel the soil under the mulch regularly. Water the garden if the top 1/4 inch feels dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Shade tolerant herb seedlings
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Mulch


  • North Carolina State University: Growing Herbs for the Home Garden
Keywords: culinary herbs, herb gardens, herbs for shade

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.