Best Herbs To Grow When Direct Sunlight Is Limited

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Herb gardens are essential for anyone who loves to cook with fresh ingredients. Without one, grocery bills can become quite expensive, and you are often left using less-fragrant dried spices. Some herbs might not even be readily available in grocery stores. If the only space you have for an herb garden has very little sun, you might wonder if there are any herbs you can grow that require very little light.

If you want to grow herbs but have limited direct sunlight, consider resilient herbs like mint, parsley, dill, green onions, and chives. In addition to herbs that grow in many light levels, consider those that enjoy the shade. Tarragon, cilantro, lemon balm, and chervil all like growing in limited light conditions. Make sure you control pests and harvest herbs regularly when growing them in limited light conditions.

There are hundreds of herbs you can grow. But not all herbs thrive in all weather and light conditions. While you might have your favorite fresh herbs to cook with, remember that you must be aware of the environment and the plants. If you are looking to grow herbs somewhere with limited direct sunlight, consider one of these 10 herbs that grow great with limited direct sun.

Top Ten Herbs For Limited-Light Areas

1. Mint

Mint is one of the most popular herbs in the world. It is used in everything from candies to teas, fragrances, and even salads. It thrives in well-watered environments and it enjoys the sun. But there are several types of mint that also grow well in the shade.

Mint grows like weeds and often crawls out and expands quite quickly. Mint grown in lower light conditions is likely to grow slower and less full, but it can still thrive. Classic peppermint and other varieties are all known to do well in shade as well as sun.

2. Dill

Dill is another herb that does well in the sun but can also grow in lower light conditions. In fact, sometimes shade is better for dill. This is especially true if you tend to forget to water from time to time. This is because dill can dry out quickly, especially in the sun.

It will not grow as full in the shade but it should still provide you with plenty of its fragrant fronds. Just make sure you regularly trim the herb. This will promote growth and also prevent the plant from flowering.

3. Tarragon

Tarragon is an under-utilized and fantastic herb that can enhance any herb garden. If you happen to be looking for herbs that will thrive in lower light conditions, look no further than tarragon.

Tarragon can be grown in all sorts of light conditions, but it tend to thrive in shade and indirect sun. Plant this herb and enhance your fish and poultry recipes. The altogether unique flavor is a great way to surprise your taste buds and fill your garden.

4. Lemon Balm

Another lesser-used but incredible herb that does well without much direct sunlight is lemon balm. Lemon balm has all sorts of uses and even more benefits. It has a fantastic fragrance. In fact, the fragrance is so lovely it even attracts bees.

In addition to attracting bees, lemon balm is great to add to teas and broths. It has several health benefits as well. Lemon balm is said to increase alertness, and it can even relieve stress. Add some lemon balm to your shady garden and start experimenting with this helpful herb.

5. Cilantro

If you like Mexican food, and who doesn’t, then it’s time to plant some cilantro in your low-light herb garden. While cilantro likes a bit of sun, too much sun is not ideal. In fact, very strong sun conditions are not great for this herb.

Cilantro has so many uses. From guacamole and garnish on many Mexican dishes to Chinese soups, broths, and even tea, this herb is delicious and versatile. It is definitely worth trying out in a low-light garden.

Pro Tip: Cilantro has the tendency to attract more than its share of pests, so consider potting this herb separately and providing some extra precautions around it to keep slugs and other critters from eating it.

6. Chives

Another popular herb that is very easy to grow in limited light conditions are chives. Chives are always great to have fresh and readily available. They make an elegant garnish on all sorts of dishes. They go great sprinkled on top of lox and cream cheese, as well as on top of soups and salads.

They do well in all types of light conditions. Chives are a thriving and strong herb. They just need good soil and water. Add some chives to your garden if it has limited light, and enjoy the benefits of fresh chives whenever you want them.

7. Parsley

Parsley is arguably the “ultimate” garnish. You find it sprinkled on all sorts of cuisines. From French to Italian, Greek, and even Middle-Eastern food, parsley is everywhere. But sometimes buying a big bushel of parsley seems like a waste.

If you have a garden area with limited light, consider growing some parsley. Remember that there are several types of parsley, and only some do well in the shade. Both flat-leaf and curly parsley tend to do well in some shade.

Give parsley a try in your limited-light area. This way, whenever you need a bit of garnish or some leaves for a stock pot, it is just a few feet away.

8. Green Onions

Green onions, also known as scallions, are another great herb to grow when there is limited light. Green onions are incredibly resilient. In fact, they grow so easily that they don’t even need soil.

That’s right, you can just cut off the bottoms of your store-bought scallions and put the roots face down in water, and watch them grow. This is actually a great way to populate your garden with green onions. Best of all it’s free, and it will keep you from having to buy them in the future.

9. Chervil

Chervil is a popular herb to grow in limited light conditions, even if very few people even know what it is. If you happen to love French cooking, then you have certainly tasted chervil, and should definitely add it to a garden with limited light.

Chervil is used in French cuisine along with parsley, tarragon, and chives to make up fine herbs, that are used in everything from bread crumbs to salad dressings. On its own, Chervil is used similarly to parsley, but it has a slightly more anise flavor.

It grows great in lower-light conditions and is a fun addition to any herb garden for those who like to try new things in the kitchen.

10. Oregano

Oregano is another herb that might like full sun but is so hearty and resilient that it also does well in limited light. This herb is fragrant and amazing when fresh but is also used in all sorts of Mediterranean cuisine as a dried herb as well.

Not only is oregano easy and hearty, but it even has practical benefits for your garden. Oregano is a natural antiseptic and insect repellent. This herb has several beneficial active ingredients, which can help repel mosquitos. Grow this herb in a shady area near a patio to help keep the bugs away.

Tips For Successfully Growing Herbs In Low-Light Areas

Check And Treat For Pests

Keeping your vegetable and herb garden clear of pests is always important. But you might find that in shady areas it is even more important. Full sunlight helps keep away some bugs, mites, and types of mold. In shady conditions, however, some of these plant killers can thrive. Make sure you are always looking out for warning signs and treating your planting accordingly.

Harvest The Herbs Regularly

It is also critical that you regularly prune and harvest your herbs when growing them in limited-light conditions. When you regularly harvest your herbs, you help stimulate growth. While this is always a good idea, it is even more important when growing herbs in lower-light conditions.

Herbs in lower-light conditions tend to grow slower and less hearty, but regularly harvesting them helps to keep them active.

Don’t Go Too Heavy On Fertilizer

You might be tempted to double up on fertilizer when you grow plants in a limited-light location. Please resist this temptation. Fertilizer is a helpful tool for growing plants, but too much can be detrimental.

Adding more fertilizer than necessary can confuse plants, and prompt them to branch out, and focus energy on growing more stems rather than focusing on creating a healthy plant.

Stick to a standard fertilizing schedule, which tends to be once every 6 months or so.

Summing Up The Top Herbs To Grow In Limited-Light Areas

If you are struggling to grow a garden in an area with limited sun, you should consider the types of plants you are selecting. While many herbs and vegetables require full sun to thrive, there are actually several herbs that do well in limited-light conditions.

Several types of mint, parsley, and oregano do well in lower-light conditions — just make sure you purchase the right types. You can also consider growing tarragon, lemon balm, green onions, chives, and cilantro.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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