Herbs that grow in partial shade


I grew up on a small, organic family farm and after a gap year spent working on an American ranch, I started studying agricultural science. Soil, organic farming practices, and plant science are what I am most drawn to. At home, when I'm not in our garden, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our harvested fruits and vegetables.

Favorite fruit: Even if a bit boring - apples
Favorite vegetables: Bell peppers, red beets, zucchini, white cabbage

Many herbs need lots of sun to thrive, but some are fine in partial shade – or even prefer it! Discover 14 herbs that grow in partial shade.

lemon balm in partial shade
Herbs that grow in sparse woodlands love partial shade [Photo: Vladimir Prokop/ Shutterstock.com]

Can herbs grow in partial shade? Yes! There are several herbs that prefer semi-shady spots. Here is a list of herbs that grow in partial shade and a bit about their nutrient requirements. Whereas some herbs need only a few nutrients, others require a rich supply of nutrients.

Herbs for partial shade with low nutrient requirements

The selection of partial shade herbs that are happy with low-nutrient soil is relatively small, but there are still treasures among them. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost is a good choice for growing herbs in partial sun. It has a loose structure and is low in poor, making it ideal for these plants.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium): Chervil prefers partial shade as its small, thin leaves burn quickly in sunny locations. Usually a biennial, this winter-hardy herb prefers loose, humus-rich and moist soil. Chervil has a slightly peppery taste and is often used to refine soups and sauces.

chervil growing in a pot
Chervil leaves are an important ingredient in green sauce [Photo: Manfred Ruckszio/ Shutterstock.com]

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): Lemon balm originally comes from the Mediterranean. It belongs to the same plant family as rosemary and thyme, namely the mint family, Lamiaceae. Unlike rosemary and thyme, however, it prefers a bit of shade and, in the right conditions, can survive for up to 30 years. Lemon balm grows best in well-draining soil, favouring some dryness over too much moisture. The leaves of lemon balm, which are the parts of the plant mainly used, have a fine lemony aroma and offer many health benefits.

lush, green lemon balm leaves
If you’re not watchful, lemon balm can quickly turn a garden into a sea of green [Photo: Wagner Campelo/ Shutterstock.com]

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor): Salad burnet is not quite as well known, but no less tasty. This healthy partial shade herb is a rare find in supermarkets, so growing it at home is all the more worthwhile. This herb, also known as garden or small burnet, prefers rather dry, lean and loose soils. When using our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, simply mix in some sand or crushed expanded clay to improve water permeability. Both the leaves and flowers of salad burnet can be eaten.

salad burnet in terracotta pot
Salad burnet can also be easily grown in pots [Photo: Maren Winter/ Shutterstock.com]

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum): Believed to have an anti-ageing effect, Jiaogulan is also known as the “immortality herb”. It is especially popular in China, where many people use it to make teas to boost longevity. And indeed, in the region where Jiaogulan originates, an astonishing number of people reach over 100 years of age. In the garden, this plant prefers semi-shady locations with nutrient-rich, moist soil. Nevertheless, even with a low nutrient supply, jiaogulan will still grow well. Jiaogulan is a climbing vine, making it perfect for growing in hanging baskets.

green serrated leaves of jiaogulan
Jiaogulan belongs to the cucurbit family and therefore enjoys climbing aids [Photo: Manfred Ruckszio/ Shutterstock.com]

Garden cress (Lepidium sativum): Garden cress is one of the vegetables that can be harvested the fastest. Given the right conditions, you can harvest the first herbs on your windowsill after just four days. In the garden, garden cress does not grow quite as fast, but even here it should be ready for harvesting after about two weeks. Cress is not fussy when it comes to location. It germinates and grows almost anywhere. In partial shade, however, it takes a tad longer than in the sun.

tiny leaves of garden cress
Garden cress can be harvested quickly and is commonly used as an herb in curd cheese [Photo: Peter Hermes Furian/ Shutterstock.com]

Sage (Salvia) Sage is actually most at home in the sun, but among the almost 900 species there are also some that are suitable for partial shade. Woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa) and Japanese woodland sage (Salvia nipponica) both flourish in partial sunlight. Sage that grows in partial shade prefers, like most other sage species, dry and lean soils.

Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Herbs for partial shade with higher nutrient requirements

The following partial-shade herbs need a rather nutrient-rich soil, such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. Herbs like chives and peppermint do best with an ample supply of nutrients. Our peat-free compost not only replenishes nutrients with the help of long-lasting organic fertiliser, but it also effectively stores nutrients for future fertilisation.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are one of the most popular kitchen herbs and are indispensable for many salads and quark dips. Luckily, growing them in your own garden can be easy. Just make sure to keep the soil moist at all times. Although chives love the sun, the soil often dries out too quickly in sunny locations. We therefore recommend growing chives in partial shade.

purple flowers of chives blooming
After chives start to flower around May, the stems lose some of their flavour [Photo: synchR/ Shutterstock.com]

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): Peppermint is easy to care for and can quickly take over your garden bed if you do not keep an eye on it. It does best in moist, nutrient- and humus-rich substrates. In these conditions, nothing will stand in the way of an abundant harvest of peppermint leaves. The leaves are delicious in teas or for flavouring water and can be used fresh or dried.

peppermint tea and peppermint leaves
Peppermint tea is a classic aid against colds and upset stomachs [Photo: Maslova Valentina/ Shutterstock.com]

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): Although parsley enjoys bright places, it does not tolerate heat well. Partial shade is therefore ideal. Grow parsley in a loose, nutrient-rich and rather moist soil. This classic partial-shade herb is more than just a nice garnish. It is popular all over the world, being a key ingredient in Arabic tabouleh or French persillade, for instance. Parsley is suitable for both partial shade herb gardens and for growing in pots on balconies that get a bit of shade.

small curly leaf parsley bundle
Curly leaf parsley is often used to decorate food [Photo: Diana Taliun/ Shutterstock.com]

Caraway (Carum carvi): Caraway is a wild herb that is mainly found in dry meadows. In the garden, caraway prefers loamy, neutral to slightly acidic soil. To raise the pH of the soil, you can mix in some lime. When it comes to nutrient requirements, caraway is not too fussy. It is happy to receive a large supply of nutrients, but can also cope with relatively little. As caraway is a biennial herb, the seeds can only be harvested in the second year of cultivation.

caraway umbel with white flowers
Caraway umbels are beautiful, attract insects and provide seeds for the kitchen [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

Perilla (Perilla frutescens): Perilla is an annual herb that is often used in Asian cuisine. It does not need much sun, but it is hungry for nutrients. So, give perilla some extra love by providing it with a nutrient-rich substrate for growing in. And if you are a fan of Japanese cuisine, it is definitely worth growing perilla as it is commonly used in sushi.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all your house, garden & balcony plants
  • For strong & healthy plants as well as an active soil life
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Lovage (Levisticum officinale): Lovage is an excellent herb that grows in partial shade. The term “herb” is a little misleading here, however, as lovage is a perennial shrub that grows over a metre tall. It is a highly nutritious plant and prefers light, calcareous soils. Lovage has a bold flavour similar to parsley or celery, but with a bit more of a kick. It is used medicinally and as a culinary spice.

tripinnate lovage leaves
The taste and aroma of lovage are reminiscent of celery and parsley [Photo: LubosChlubny/ Shutterstock.com]

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): Even though tarragon prefers a sunny spot and nutrient-rich soil, it will also make do in semi-shady locations that are somewhat leaner and drier. In addition, tarragon is a hardy herb and will keep you happy for several years with its versatile leaves. Especially if you love French cuisine, this herb is an absolute must.

Tip: Tarragon is ideal for seasoning grilled food such as meat and fish.

tall tarragon shrubs
Tarragon can reach heights of up to 1.5 metres [Photo: EditaMedeina/ Shutterstock.com]

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Chamomile is one of the most popular medicinal herbs. Its flowers are used to make teas to help with stomach aches and for anti-inflammatory ointments. In the garden, chamomile prefers a semi-shady spot with plenty of nutrients and water and rather loamy soils.

chamomile in full bloom
A tea made from chamomile flowers can have a calming effect [Photo: BAO-Images Bildagentur/ Shutterstock.com]

If your garden also has some fully sunny or shady corners, you will love our articles about herbs for sunny locations and herbs for shady locations.