Herbs in the shade; edible shade plants

Not all herbs necessarily want to be in full sun. Some garden enthusiasts would like to grow edible plants but are faced with the fact that their garden or balcony does not face south. That narrows the possibilities, but there are still plenty of opportunities to start an herb garden. You don’t have to have a herb garden in the open ground; it can certainly be done in pots. The roots of herbs generally do not reach very deep. It is recommended to use quite large pots; from 10 litres. This way the pot has enough soil and water if you are not there for a few weeks; After all, small pots dry out faster. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Angelica flower / Source: Deecodee, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • The pots
  • Parsley
  • Angelica
  • Comfrey
  • Caraway
  • Real chervil
  • Chives
  • Fennel
  • Roman chamomile
  • Horseradish
  • Mint
  • Sorrel
  • Roman chervil
  • Bergamot plant
  • Basil


The pots

There are two types of pots. You can take a pot without holes at the bottom; You have to be careful that the entire pot does not become flooded. To prevent this, you can use pots with holes in the bottom. Then place them on a special base plate with a high edge, such as those available in garden centers. This prevents soil from ending up on the balcony and creeping through the holes. Ten gallon pots with soil in them will rarely overflow. You can place potsherds or drainage granules at the bottom of these pots so that there is a drainage layer in the pot if there is too much rain. The earth will then not quickly become waterlogged.


Parsley is a well-growing biennial plant. If the plant survives the winter, and that is very possible in the Netherlands, it will bloom the second year. You can eat parsley flowers, but it may be better to save the seeds to sow new parsley the following year.


Angelica is a beautiful large plant. The root is used as a medicinal herb. The plant dies in autumn, but the huge flower remains beautiful even in dried form. The leaves of the angelica are edible and can be cooked like spinach. That is the reason to have angelica in the garden; This way you still have home-grown vegetables in the shade garden.


Comfrey or symphytum is of course a very well-known herb for its healing qualities for muscle problems and bruises. In addition, the leaf is edible! It even contains vitamin B12, a vitamin that some scientists think is only found in meat. However, you should not eat comfrey too often; at least once a month is safe. It may also contain less good substances; Science is divided on this.


Caraway is a nice fresh herb. Many people don’t think about growing this plant. That is unjustified because he can do well in the Netherlands. Together with Finland, the Netherlands is one of the countries where the most caraway is grown.

Real chervil

Real chervil is an herb that can make vegetables and salads taste better. Chervil soup is regularly eaten in Belgium; a soup based on chervil. Real chervil grows wild in Europe, but you have to be careful when picking it; it can be confused with the spotted hemlock which is highly poisonous.


Chives are a permanent, perennial plant. It easily survives the Dutch winter. It can be picked in spring, summer and autumn. It is even smart to regularly cut off a large bunch because this will stimulate the growth of the chive plant. Fortunately, chives are delicious with everything; You can shred it over salads, add it to cheese on bread, use it in soups and even use it in pasta, rice or potato meals.


Fennel is a vegetable and an herb at the same time. The young leaves are considered herb and the large stem parts are vegetables. This vegetable tastes like anise. Fennel is a green-white delicacy and it is a godsend that this delicacy among vegetables does well in the shade.

Roman chamomile

Roman chamomile is a perennial plant. This is in contrast to the annual plant real chamomile or feverfew. Roman chamomile belongs to the edible plants. The plant is mainly used to make tea. The leaves of the plant have an apple scent. Roman chamomile grows taller in the shade than in full sun.


Horseradish is a perennial plant until you harvest the root. The root grows very long and deep. Horseradish also has leaves that can be eaten. These taste slightly less sharp than the carrot; That doesn’t matter because the carrot tastes very sharp. It is also a very healthy plant.


Mint is an ideal plant for a pot. It dies in the fall, but the plant comes back in the spring; he will only retreat underground for a while. Mint is a tasty plant in salads. You can easily add mint to an omelet together with other green herbs. Mint is an excellent addition to a tomato sauce. Mint is best known for its function as a tea herb. In the Netherlands we drink mint tea made from just mint, but in Morocco mint is added to black tea.


Sorrel is a purely Dutch or Western European plant. It belongs here and can therefore withstand the winter very well. Sorrel is a tasty leaf for a mixed salad. You can eat it as an addition between a slice of cheese on bread. Sorrel is one of the alternative lettuce leaves for an original salad. It is a forgotten vegetable that also comes into its own when you briefly stir-fry it.

Roman chervil seeds / Source: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Roman chervil

Roman chervil is an anise-tasting plant whose leaves are great to eat. Many fruits are preserved in Scandinavian countries. When Roman chervil is added to sour fruits, the fruits taste less sour! This means that less sugar is needed for preserving. In this way, Roman chervil is an excellent sugar substitute. You can also stir-fry it in a wild vegetable mix, for example together with plantain, nettle and ground ivy.

Bergamot plant

The bergamot plant is the plant on which the Earl gray tea flavor is based. In addition, the bergamot plant is an edible plant. It is also a fragrant plant; of course it smells like earl gray tea. Bergamot originally grows in North America. It is a beautiful ornamental plant that comes in the colors purple, pink, white and red.


Basil can be purchased from almost every supermarket and greengrocer from spring. Instead of leaving the basil in the pot, you can plant it out in a larger pot. Basil can actually handle full sun quite poorly; a shady spot is ideal for this plant. Basil is a delicious herb for an omelette, soup, salad or simply on bread between a few slices of cheese. It is also one of the herbs that enhance a tomato sauce.

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  • The permanent herb garden
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