Most herbs like some sun in their lives and when planning a herb garden this is one of the most important considerations. But for those shady spots around the garden that you would dearly love to fill with herbs, try some of the following herbs.

Herbs grown in the shade will require less watering than when grown in the sun, however remember that they may be competing with trees for water. Most shade loving herbs like rich soil and will benefit by adding compost to the area. For the herbs that may get a little leggy, try pruning regularly for a bushier look.


Pogostemon sp

Patchouli Leaf

A perennial bush that loves the shade. Patchouli grows to approx 1m, it has large rounded green leaves 14cm long and clusters of small pink lipped flowers produced in spikes. It likes rich moist soil and responds well to pruning. Patchouli is used for it’s lovely fragrance in essential oil, soaps, shampoo, etc. The essential oil is used to uplift the senses and relieve stress, nervous exhaustion and mild depression.



Mushroom plant

Rungia klossi

Mushroom Plant Herb

This one is a must for salad lovers. A hardy perennial bush to 60cm, with dark green glossy leaves and sky-blue flowers in spring – summer. A nutritious plant that is higher in protein than mushrooms, it contains calcium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron and other vitamins and minerals. Its crunchy mushroom flavoured leaves are delicious raw in salads and sandwiches or add to soups and stir-fries at the end of cooking to ensure full flavour. It will tolerate the sun, but grows well in a shady position producing larger crunchier leaves.



Vegetable pepper

Piper sarmentosum

Vegetable Pepper in garden

Vegetable pepper is a perennial, creeping plant growing up to about 60cm. The leaves are dark green and glossy and oval shaped with a pointed tip and has small white flowers that occur in spikes. It likes a warm spot in the shade with rich soil and good drainage.

Vegetable pepper is originally from Thailand and Vietnam, and is cultivated in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The leaves which have a spicy peppery taste can be cooked like spinach and used as a vegetable or can be shredded and added to soups stews and stir-fries at the end of cooking to give a subtle peppery flavour. Raw Vegetable Pepper leaves can also be torn or shredded into salads and are particularly nice in rice salad. The leaves are also used to wrap small pieces of food



Lemon balm

Melissa officinalis

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a clump-forming perennial with heart shaped, deeply veined leaves that are covered with hairs, it grows 30cm – 90cm high. Here in south east Queensland lemon balm does not flower.

Lemon Balm has a delicate flowery lemon flavour and has a wide variety of uses. It adds zing to fruit salads, garden salads, fruit drinks and punch, sorbet, herb butters, dressing and sauces for savoury dishes.

Fresh leaves can be bruised and applied to insect bites, cuts and grazes. A leaf tea is a relaxing tonic for anxiety, mild depression, nervous headaches and digestive problems such as indigestion, acidity, nausea, bloating and colicky pains. A strong infusion can be used on cold sores.

Lemon balm prefers rich moist soil and partial shade. It can tolerate direct sunlight but the leaves may yellow slightly during hot summers in full sun, plants grown in shade tend to be larger and more succulent.




Rumex acetosa

Sorrel Herb

Sorrel is a perennial with broad lance shaped bright green leaves and grows to about 90cm high. It is happy to grow in the shade and will tolerate most soils although it does prefer moist fertile soils that are slightly acidic.

The tart, lemony leaves can be used to flavour soups, sauces and salads. Sorrel leaves partner well with avocado in a salad or on a sandwich. Add some shredded leaves to scrambled eggs, omelets and frittata. Quinoa salad loves the tangy addition of sorrel as do seafood and tomato dishes. Stir finely shredded sorrel through a basic white sauce to give a real zing to vegetables. Like spinach sorrel should not be cooked in aluminum.




Alpinia galanga

Galangal FlowerNative to South Asia and Indonesia, galangal is a perennial plant, growing from rhizomes in thick clumps, with green stems and lush green strappy lanceolate leaves reaching up to 2m high. It flowers high in the plant in spikes covered with numerous creamy – white flowers that have a touch of deep pink veining on them. The rhizome is similar to that of ginger with a creamy brown skin and pink tinges to the new growth. It has a similar appearance to ginger, but has a different taste, it has a light earthy peppery taste, it is not as hot as ginger. Used in soups and curries it can be added as slices or pounded into curry pastes.

It is very easy to grow in sub-tropical to tropical areas in part sun through to shade. It likes a well- drained soil and thrives with adequate moisture.



Herb Robert

Geranium robertianum

Herb Robert flower

Herb Robert is a dainty looking plant with branching stems and green leaves that are covered in fine hairs. The flowers are five petalled, bright pink and are followed by seed pods that resemble a bird’s beak.

The leaves of Herb Robert can be used for diarrhoea, gastrointestinal infections, peptic ulcer, haemorrhage, inflammation of the uterus. Use externally for skin eruptions, wounds, inflamed gums and throat and herpes.

Herb Robert is a potential treatment for cancer; it has the ability to make oxygen available to the body’s cells helping the body to fight disease.

Herb Robert grows in a wide range of climates. In hotter climates grow in the shade and water regularly, it grows better through the winter in tropical and subtropical areas. It self seeds readily ensuring an abundance of plants.



Vietnamese mint

Persicaria odorata

Vietnamese Mint herb

Vietnamese mint is native to S.E. Asia it has pointed green leaves with dark markings and small pink flowers produced in spikes in summer. A perennial it grows to around 80cm likes a warm moist position; it does grow well in the sun but will still grow vigorously in the shade. Naturally grows best in tropical and subtropical zones. Protect during winter in cooler areas.

The leaves have a very strong hot minty flavor with citrus overtones. It is used throughout Vietnam and neighboring countries. Vietnamese mint adds a distinctive flavor to soups, curries and salads, particularly with rice or noodles and chicken. The leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa and Vietnamese spring rolls and pho.



Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum

Sweet Woodruff herb

Native to Europe, North Africa and western Asia, sweet woodruff is a pretty plant for a shady area. It is a creeping perennial and grows to 30cm high with bright-green leaves growing in star-like whorls, with between 6-8 leaves to every whorl. The white flowers usually appear in spring, I have not seen it in flower here in the sub-tropics. The plant has a sweet fragrance derived from its coumarin content. When dried the scent has been described as a fresh-cut hay and vanilla fragrance, and it is used frequently in potpourri. It is used in Germany, to flavour May wine called "Maiwein" or "Maibowle" in German. It is also used as a syrup for beer, in sausages, jelly, jam, soft drink , ice cream, and a herbal tea with gentle sedative properties.

Sweet woodruff prefers shade and a well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Sweet woodruff plants will grow more vigorously with regular watering.




Curcuma domestica

Turmeric Flower

Turmeric is a perennial, growing to 1metre. It has large lily like green leaves

and white to pale yellow flowers. The knobbly rhizome is bright golden yellow. Turmeric is native to India and Southern Asia. It likes humid conditions and moist well-drained soil; protect it from frost in cooler climate. The aerial parts of the plant die back in winter remerging in spring; the rhizomes can be dug up in autumn. Turmeric has a warm mild aroma and adds a distinct golden yellow colour to foods. It is an essential ingredient in commercial curry powders and is used in pickles especially piccalilli, adds flavour and colour to curries, devilled eggs, beans, lentil, rice, poultry, seafood and vegetables in particular cauliflower and potato dishes. Turmeric has numerous medicinal uses it stimulates the liver and gall bladder, it has cholesterol lowering properties, is used for arthritis, to prevent Alzheimer's and cancer. A poultice of turmeric can be used for skin problems such as psoriasis, bruises and fungal infections.