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, all hope isn't lost. Try some of the following shade-loving herbs.
Herbs grown in the shade will require less watering than when grown in the sun, however, remember that they may compete 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 regularly pruning for a bushier look.
A perennial bush that loves the shade. Patchouli grows to approximately 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 its 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.
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. Mushroom plant is a nutritious plant with higher 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 also commonly known as betel leaf 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 have 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 with 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 lovely in a rice salad. The leaves are also used to wrap small pieces of food.
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 southeast 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 butter, 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.
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, omelettes 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 aluminium.
Native 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 with a touch of deep pink veining. The rhizome is similar to that of ginger, with 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 flavour and is not as hot as ginger. It can be added as slices or pounded into curry pastes in soups and curries.
It is very easy to grow in sub-tropical to tropical areas in part sun through to shade. It likes well-drained soil and thrives with adequate moisture.
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, followed by seed pods resembling a bird’s beak.
The leaves of Herb Robert can be used for diarrhoea, gastrointestinal infections, peptic ulcer, bleeding, and inflammation of the uterus. Use externally for skin eruptions, wounds, inflamed gums, throat, and herpes.
Herb Robert is a potential cancer treatment; it has the ability to make oxygen available to the body’s cells helping the body 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 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 thrive 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 flavour with citrus overtones. It is used throughout Vietnam and neighbouring countries. Vietnamese mint adds a distinctive flavour to soups, curries, and salads, particularly with rice, noodles, and chicken. The leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa, Vietnamese spring rolls, and pho.
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 them 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 herbal tea with gentle sedative properties.
Sweet woodruff prefers shade and well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Sweet woodruff plants will grow more vigorously with regular watering.
Turmeric is a perennial, growing to 1 metre. 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 climates. 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, it adds flavour and colour to curries, devilled eggs, beans, lentils, rice, poultry, seafood and vegetables, in particular cauliflower and potato dishes. Turmeric has numerous medicinal uses it stimulates the liver and gall bladder, has cholesterol-lowering properties, and 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.