Growing Herbs in the Shade

Understanding Your Garden Conditions

The best gardening advice I ever received came straight from my teachers at The Professional School of Horticulture, New York Botanical Gardens. "Right Plant, right place."

It seems elementary but as every gardener knows, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying, and all too often failing, to make our gardens more hospitable for the plants we love. 

Adjusting soil texture, changing soil PH and adding organic matter are easy and necessary improvements to any great garden. Presenting the right conditions results in optimum growth, gorgeous, lush foliage, blooms, and the admiration of other gardeners - a reward in and of itself.

Not as easy to contend with is the dreaded garden nemesis, shade. There are shade loving perennials, trees and shrubs, even lawn but growing food, in particular herbs, is another matter all together. No, you can't have it all but you can have enough to satisfy your appetite, culinary and otherwise.

Herbs are amongst the easiest and hardiest of garden plants. So, why deny yourself the pleasure of added fragrance, texture and color that herbs bring to the garden and your favorite recipes?

Selecting Herbs for Shade Garden Success

We always advise our clients who are food loving gardeners to do the best they can to provide adequate sunlight for their plants. That includes carefully selecting the sunniest spot in your garden; corrective pruning of shrubs for reduced plant density to let in more light; and limbing up trees, an expensive proposition, to reduce the shade cast by their beloved canopies.

However, this is not always possible, depending upon the orientation of your house and fixed structures like the garage, or the maturity and species of trees on your property. In this case, you may simply have to live with what you've got. The most successful gardeners know that it easier to select plants that work within your garden's microclimate than it is to change it.

The good news is there are herbs for a variety of shade conditions that will make your life easier. Never say never, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to guarantee garden success and save your hard earned dollars for plants that will thrive in your conditions.

Herbs for Partial Shade Gardens

  • Catnip
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary

Herbs for Shade Gardens

  • Cardamom
  • Chervil
  • Ginger
  • Ginseng
  • Violets

Click here for complete list along with plant growth details.


Garden Preparation Tips for Your Food Garden

No matter what plants your choose to grow, if you're working with shade conditions caused by trees, or a neglected garden area, your 1st step should be to prep the garden area.

  • Elevate Your Plants: Use raised garden beds to provide the ideal growing medium for your plants and reduce competition with tree roots.
  • Raised Bed Style: There are many things to consider when building raised beds, design, dimensions and function. Be sure tothem a sufficient height so that weeding is easy on your back. Generally, we recommend 2'H. For more in depth info and ideas, click here.
  • Feed Me: Fill your beds with good quality soil/medium. Fafard offers some of the best products on the market. Think manure, compost and quality soil blends.
  • Quenching their Thirst: With temperature spikes on the rise, keeping your plants adequately watered is key. Consider installing micro irrigation systems for automatic watering.

Happy Gardening!