When growing an indoor herb garden, lack of sunlight can represent an issue for many of us. Especially when thriving for six or more hours a day to shine on your plants. Luckily, there are plenty of herbs that grow in the shade and tolerate low light.
Using these shade-loving herbs will open up more space for you to spread your indoor garden out. This creates more green space inside your home.
Understanding your plant’s light needs will help you plan your garden space better. Keep shade-tolerant plants in separate areas of their very own. Giving those sunbathing plants much more natural light opportunities in your indoor garden.
Winter can also impact your regular hours of light that come through your windows, and the same light intensity you experienced in the summer months may be diminished in the cooler months.
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They make excellent container plants as their invasive nature can overtake a garden bed. Mint roots have fast-spreading capabilities.
A flavorful culinary herb that can work both cooked and raw. I use it in teas to flavor salads, meat, and seafood dishes.
Mint also has many medicinal properties and alternative benefits. Mouth cleansing and breath freshening in tubes of toothpaste and mouthwash are regular uses. Mint also has typical applications in remedies for upset stomach and indigestion.
A hard-to-find store herb that produces some tremendous mild anise-like flavor is Chervil. It does not dry well, so it is best-used fresh-picked for the most excellent taste. It grows great in low light, light shade conditions.
I have found Chervil to be a hardy grower indoors. It has a very high tolerance to a multitude of conditions.
Chervil is a versatile seasoning that can spark up dishes of meat and poultry. It also compliments dairy-rich dishes of cheese and in cream sauces.
My favorite use of chervil is a béarnaise sauce, a classic French mother sauce.
Cilantro likes bright light but not direct sunlight beating on it. This makes it an ideal herb to grow in low light. It does well in east windows that get morning sunlight but stay indirect the rest of the day.
Cilantro also prefers its environment a bit on the cool side. Avoid placing near any direct heat source. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant after it has bolted.
I have found that this herb is either a love or hate it type of herb when it comes to flavor. I am fond of the flavor of cilantro. It makes an excellent addition to many stir-fries as well as traditional guacamole. It also adds freshness to green salads and fresh taste profiles to smoothie recipes.
⇒Slow-bolt Cilantro seeds can extend your growing time for your plant and keep them from going to seed. You can get some quality slow-bolting seeds here.
This one may cause an argument as I have seen many people swear that parsley needs a lot of suns. I will tell you in my 20 years of experience growing parsley; it has no issues growing in low light.
I have had parsley growing in east-facing windows that got morning sun alone. One on a countertop that receives bright indirect light. Both parsley plants grew lush and green with no flavor loss.
Like the taste of parsley, the lovely green grass adds a delicate finish on many dishes and not as garnish alone. Flat-leaf varieties have a much richer flavor. At the same time, fancy curly types are more decorative and delicate in taste.
Parsley also is a natural breath neutralizer and will counteract some stronger scents used in some dishes such as garlic and onions.
Thyme does great with indirect light in a bright room or an east window. You are freeing up more space in your sunny southern windows for sun-loving plants. Light does not need to shine on this plant directly but is near for thyme to thrive.
It is a very hardy grower that does well in containers. Thyme enjoys consistent indoor temperatures.
The use for thyme is almost limitless as it pairs well with so many dishes you can prepare in the kitchen—a classic pairing with Rosemary for seasoning poultry and game meats. Thyme also is an excellent seasoning for soups, stews, and stocks.
Shiso, or otherwise referred to as perilla, is a beautiful, unique herb. It adds an Oriental flavor to your dishes with its Asian roots.
This herb is not fussy; it likes sun too. It will also do fine in low light to partial shade as well.
There are two main types of shiso, green and red. The red variety is more of a beautiful purple colored leaf. This herb is also called the beefsteak plant or purple mint.
The flavor of shiso is hard to describe as it is truly unique. As a mint family member, it has a slight mint essence to it with a hint of anise. Notes of citrus are often left hinted on the tongue.
Some basil similarities to the flavor and works well in or in its unique pesto. Green shiso has a bit of a cinnamon hint too. This is not found in the red variety.
Japanese cooking uses perilla to season tofu, bean curd, soups, tempura, meat, and rice dishes. I like it in salads and blended with mayonnaise for unique sandwich spreads.
If you would like to learn how to grow your shiso, I have written an article to help get you started.
Not everyone considers this to be a shade-loving herb. Yet, the hardiness of chives tolerates low light and shade conditions with style. The blades maybe a little more delicate when grown in lower lights, but the taste is not sacrificed.
It is best to use chives raw to maintain their delicate flavor, but they are more than just a garnish. Chives offer hints of extra flavor to many dishes with their light onion flavor. Try a garlic chive to add a garlicky essence.
I use them on or in so many dishes it is hard to narrow it down to a few. If I had to, it would be soups. Fresh snipped chives on soup are a must for me like crackers are to most everyone else.
⇒Garlic chives can be an excellent flavor treat in your dishes; if you have never tried this variety, give it a chance. You will be surprised.
This is a variety of oregano that likes the shade, unlike the rest of the Oregano and marjoram family. Its delicate pale green to yellow leaves thrive in the shade and burn up in high amounts of sun.
It still carries the familiar flavors of the Greek varieties of oregano. Rich with nice pepper undertones.
Oregano is a highly used seasoning in Greek, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Chefs and cooks use it to season sauces, marinara, soups, and stews. It is an excellent herb for drying, freezing, or cooking as it holds its flavor well even after harvest.
Turmeric appreciates indirect light for the best growth for your plant. This beautiful plant grown for its roots, rhizomes, is a very versatile home dweller.
Turmeric roots are the primary harvest of this plant. It does not need to be available in the kitchen for a fresh crop. This offers many options for placement outside your standard grow space.
Turmeric, the golden herb, is used in many Indian dishes, including curry. It also has potent medicinal properties and benefits that are being explored. It is even considered an anticancer fighting herb.
Ginger is a beautiful herb with many culinary and medicinal properties. Its unique flavor has been used in baking for generations and the seasoning of dishes and even in drinks.
In holistic medicine, ginger benefits various things, including weight loss, stomach ailments, heart disease, and diabetes. Like turmeric has shown as an anti-cancer preventative.
Into the Light
Having indoor herbs that can tolerate lower light will help you space your indoor garden—bringing you more growth opportunities. It will be essential to watch your plants for problems with light deficiency.
All plants rely on photosynthesis to produce their food and energy. This requires processing some form of light. If you notice your herb plant has slowed down in growth. Develops abnormal long spacing between leaves (leggy). The appearance of paling leaves. Even excessive reaching towards a light source may indicate your plant is too far into the shade.
Try rotating them into sunny spots a couple of days a week. Watch and see if that sparks them back up. You may need to change their location altogether.
Did I miss an herb that you have had success growing in lower light conditions and shade indoors? I would love to hear about what you are growing and how it is working for you. Leave a comment below!
About Truman Perkins
Truman Perkins has worked as the SEO consultant for over a decade; there he's helped so many startups and friends' sites get off the ground. Believing gardening is a natural stress reliever, Truman indulges in learning and writing about gardening in his free time. He lives with his wife, Jenny, and their twins in Detroit, Michigan.
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