Herbs that grow in full sun


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

If you can offer a sunny spot, your choice of herbs to grow is plentiful. Here are some particularly sun-loving herbs and some tips on how to grow them.

herb garden with stone wall
Lavender, rosemary, oregano and thyme are a few of the well-known kitchen herbs that grow best in the sun [Photo: BildagenturZoonar GmbH/ Shutterstock.com]

Herbs not only offer health benefits, but can also elevate many dishes, adding that little je ne sais quoi. When it comes to growing them, however, different herbs have different needs. By taking a few things such as light and nutrient requirements into account, you can ensure a bountiful harvest of herbs from your own garden. Read on to find out about some herbs that grow in full sun and what kind of soil they need.

Full sun herbs with low nutrient requirements

Most herbs that need full sun and have low nutrient requirements are Mediterranean herbs. They originate from the warm and dry Mediterranean region and can easily be grown in locations with similar conditions. If you would like to grow such herbs, you can use our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost and mix in some sand to imitate their natural conditions.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is a perennial, evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 70 to 150 cm. It needs full sun and lean soil, and requires very little water. The needle-like leaves of rosemary are commonly used in the kitchen − from rosemary potatoes to ratatouille. Rosemary is also a great herb for grilling.

rosemary in bloom
Rosemary has needle-like leaves and blue flowers [Photo: Maren Winter/ Shutterstock.com]

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Like rosemary, thyme also originates from the Mediterranean. Not only do both of these sun-loving herbs have very similar habitat requirements, but they also complement each other perfectly in the kitchen. At 10 to 40 cm tall, thyme grows much smaller than rosemary and its leaves are also smaller. Outside of the kitchen, thyme is said to have various healing properties and can help against colds, coughs and gastrointestinal problems, for instance.

a small thyme shrub
In the garden, thyme grows as small shrubs, but it is also suitable for cultivation in pots [Photo: Frank Fischbach/ Shutterstock.com]

Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Oregano is another herb that grows in full sun and prefers dry, nutrient-poor soils. While it is a perennial, it struggles with the cold. There are, however, some oregano species that can withstand temperatures down to -15 °C. It is possible to successfully overwinter such species. In the right location, oregano can reach heights of up to 65 cm. This herb is also suitable for growing in pots and on sunny balconies.

fresh and dried oregano leaves
Oregano leaves can be used fresh or dried [Photo: catalina.m/ Shutterstock.com]

Savory (Satureja): Savory loves warm and sunny locations with nutrient-poor and dry soil conditions. There are two main species of savory: the annual, summer savory (Satureja hortensis), and the biennial or perennial winter or mountain savory (Satureja montana). Savory goes well with bean dishes, but due to its tart, slightly spicy taste, you can also use it in many other ways in the kitchen. It is great for meat and fish dishes as well as for refining herb butters and soft cheeses like quark.

savory plant with many stems
Stems of savory are often cooked with bean dishes [Photo: EQRoy/ Shutterstock.com]

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): The lavender fields in Provence are famous and shine a light on the Mediterranean origin and sun requirements of this perennial semi-shrub. Lavender needs full sun and grows best in nutrient-poor, well-draining soil that is high in lime. The plant blooms between May and September, producing its lovely, fragrant, purple blossoms. Its leaves and flowers are used not only in the kitchen, but also for medicinal purposes thanks to their calming, sleep-inducing and antibacterial properties.

Tip: Aside from lavender, there are several other herbs that help you sleep that you can also grow in your own garden.

fields of lavender in bloom
The conditions for lavender are terrific in Provence, but it can also be grown elsewhere [Photo: aniana/ Shutterstock.com]

Sage (Salvia officinalis): The leaves of common sage are oval, covered with fine white hair (known as trichomes). Thanks to the essential oils in the leaves, they exude an intense fragrance. Because of their pleasantly bitter and spicy taste, they are key to many Italian meat dishes. The genus Salvia is very diverse, especially in taste – some have a slight lime, marzipan or peach flavour. Sage, too, originates from the Mediterranean region and prefers well-draining, poor soil. To create optimal conditions for sage, you can use our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost and mix in about a third of sand.

close look at sage leaves
The famously felt-like leaves of sage can be used in many ways [Photo: simonapavan/ Shutterstock.com]

Curry plant (Helichrysum italicum): The scent and taste of the curry plant is reminiscent of an Asian spice mixture. Like most of the other herbs mentioned here, the curry plant is native to the Mediterranean region. It grows best in well-draining, lean soil and does not tolerate waterlogging. With its silver leaves and yellow flowers, this plant also brings some ornamental value to your herb garden.

yellow flowers of curry plant
The curry plant is a fragrant flowering addition to the garden [Photo: Andriy Tkachenko/ Shutterstock.com]
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

Tip: In addition to these herbs, many other heat-resistant plants are also suitable for sunny locations.

Full sun herbs with higher nutrient requirements

The following herbs are a little more high maintenance. They require a lot of nutrients and some also need a lot of water. That being said, most of them are otherwise quite undemanding. For growing these herbs in pots, we recommend a nutrient-rich substrate, such as our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. It provides the plants with all the necessary nutrients and, with its relatively high pH value, also ensures an environment in which these full sun herbs will thrive.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): While basil is often associated with rosemary, thyme, oregano, it actually originates from forests in subtropical regions. This is why it prefers a moist and warm environment, but does not tolerate the blazing midday sun. Being an annual, basil is suitable as an herb for sunny balconies. There are numerous varieties of basil, including cinnamon, anise, lemon and Thai basil. It is even possible to overwinter some varieties.

dark red basil leaves
There are a number of different basil varieties, includingred ones [Photo: Nick Pecker/ Shutterstock.com]

Dill (Anethum graveolens): Nowadays, dill is mainly associated with cucumbers and fish. In the past, however, it was mainly used as a medicinal herb. It was said to help wounds heal and have a pain-relieving effect. Dill prefers locations protected from wind and with humus- and nutrient-rich soil. Also an annual, dill does wellon sunny balconies.

small green dill plant
After being sown in an herb soil, dill prefers nutrient-rich substrates [Photo: Marina Demidiuk/ Shutterstock.com]

Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum): Garlic chives may resemble normal chives, but in terms of taste, they are more similar to garlic − sans the pungent smell. Garlic chives are easy to care for and can be harvested throughout most of the year, which also gives it a leg up on garlic. To top it off, garlic chives can easily be grown in pots, making them a great fit for sunny balconies. These plants thrive best in humus- and nutrient-rich, evenly moist soil. Avoid waterlogging. If you plan on using our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost for cultivating garlic chives, mix in a little clay powder (bentonite) to improve the soil’s water retention capacity. A soil specifically for herbs and seedlings is only suitable for starting these plants.

white flowers of garlic chives
Garlic chives: looks like chives, tastes like garlic [Photo: Peter Turner Photography/ Shutterstock.com]

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis): Bay laurel is sensitive to frost, so it is best to grow it in pots for easy overwintering in a frost-free space with plenty of light. A humus- and nutrient-rich but well-draining soil is ideal. We can recommend mixing our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost with a little sand. Bay laurel should not be confused with the cherry laurel, as the latter is poisonous. The leaves of bay laurel are used both medicinally and in cooking.

shiny, green bay leaves
Because they are tough and extreme in taste, bay leaves are often used in cooking, but not directly eaten [Photo: Csendon/ Shutterstock.com]

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis): Like rosemary, oregano and thyme, hyssop belongs to the mint family known as Lamiaceae. This perennial semi-shrub prefers a wind-protected, sunny spot with nutrient-rich soil that is high in lime. Given these conditions, hyssop is quite easy to care for. To provide these conditions in your own garden, we recommend mixing 10 litres of Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost with a heaped trowelful of garden lime to raise the pH. In addition to this herb’s many culinary and medicinal uses, growing hyssop in the garden is also very practical, as its strong scent deters slugs and other pests.

vibrant, purple flowers of hyssop
At first glance hyssop resembles lavender, but it has a flavour all its own [Photo: KaichankavaLarysa/ Shutterstock.com]

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): This annual plant is an all-rounder. Nasturtium grows quickly and makes a terrific ground cover with its decorative leaves and beautiful flowers that are quite tasty. While nasturtium is a herb that grows in full sun, it also does well in partial shade. It grows best in pots or garden beds with slightly moist, nutrient-rich soil.

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

If you want to grow herbs in other, less sunny spots in your garden, you can read more in our articles ‘Herbs for Shade’ and ‘Herbs for Partial Shade’.