Top 5 Most Shade Tolerant Plants

Not all of us look forward to sunny days, lapping up the warmer weather basking in its scorching glory. It’s time to look after your friend with the pasty legs who never wears shorts and sweats if your TV screens brightness is two notches too high. There are some plants that are a bit pasty too and prefer a bit of cover in the patch. Make the most of shady spots in the garden that you originally rendered useless with these five shade tolerant plants. Take from our fourth book, DIY Garden Projects.

Vietnamese mint

Vietnamese Mint
This culinary icon is a flavour bomb like no other. The distinctive flavour of Vietnamese mint adds to dishes simply what no other herb can replace. It likes a decent-sized pot with room to move, about 30cm in depth and diameter. It can be grown at all times of the year but loves humid and warm conditions as it reminds it of home.

If planting in the patch, be prepared for Vietnamese mint to swell large, but unlike other types of mint - that send runners throughout the soil, invading the rest of the patch - this will bulk up from the one root zone and stay contained. Frequent picking encourages more growth, so your eating habits will only be rewarded with more future meals.


There’s something special about garlic that makes it more than just a vegetable. It is believed to be antibacterial and antiviral - used liberally in just about every homemade remedy that rids the common cold - and versatile enough to deter the advances of an over-enthusiastic, unwanted love interest. That’s what makes it so cool, that and the fact it doesn’t mind a bit of shade.

Plant in free-draining, friable soil with compost to keep it happy. In the kitchen garlic shouldn’t only be thought in terms of heads and cloves. The foliage of the plant is just as useful, and sautéed through a stir fry or your morning eggs, is a subtler delight.

lemon balm

Lemon Balm
This cool customer has a strong lemon scent and can be found at awkward family reunions with the mint clan, trying to avoid its awkward uncle, common mint. Can be grown in small, shallow pots but will thrive in larger ones, as it tends to gently creep and fill out any available space, making it perfectly suited to as a zesty ground cover...particularly in shaded spaces.

Preferring partly to fully-shaded spaces, like all in the mint family it grows best in warm, humid conditions but will make a go of it at most times of the year. The perfect addition to sprucing up drinks, or a warm winter tea, oh chaaarrs!


Coriander gets all hot under the collar when placed in a sunny position, wilting as a seedling or bolting to seed far too soon. As such it prefers a much milder environment and can tolerate a partly shaded (but well lit) growing space – similar to the shade that welcomes you with open arms on a warm day.

Keep your plant well hydrated but ensure your soil drains adequately – coriander is prone to rotting when it can’t dry out. If you catch it early enough, snipping off the seed head will force the plant to focus on leaf production again. If you catch it too late, leave it and score some seeds for your spice cabinet.


We don’t like to pick favourites, in fear of some patch karma cursing the plants we fail to mention, however we have developed a rather notable soft spot for silverbeet (swiss chard) - our new golden child of the veggie patch. Sure, we love spinach and kale and all those other leafy greens too, but silverbeet just seems to get on with it undeterred and doesn't mind a bit of shade in the garden. 

Growing it it dead easy too; they can be sown directly from seed or propagated and then transplanted as a seedling, and at most time of the year in most climates. What's not to love about it?

So it’s time to put the “pasty” plants to good use and start filling in the blanks of your garden bed. Yes, you can grow food anywhere, even in shady spaces.

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