Will basil grow in the shade?

Key Points

  • Basil needs six to eight hours of sun daily.
  • In the South and Southwest, it needs afternoon shade.
  • Provide the basil with moist, nutrient-rich soil that drains well.
  • Choose the right variety for shade.
  • Plant in the right location.

Hello! I’m Emily, and I’m 23 years old with a background in both gardening and DIY. Today, I’ll be discussing whether basil will grow in the shade. Basil is an herb that has a wide range of uses in both cooking and medicinal applications and requires sufficient light to grow properly. But can it tolerate some shade? Let’s find out.

Climate Light Preference
Temperate 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily
Hot 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily with afternoon shade


Basil is an herb that has a wide range of uses in both cooking and medicinal applications.

It needs sufficient light to grow properly, but it can also be sensitive to too much sun.

So, before you decide where to put your basil plants, it’s important to know how much sunlight they prefer and whether or not they can tolerate some shade.

In this article, I’ll explain the basics of basil cultivation, as well as provide a comparison table showing the growth conditions depending on the climate you live in.

Finally, I’ll offer my own advice on best practices for growing healthy Basil plants regardless of your location.

What is Basil?

Basil is a popular herb that adds flavor and aroma to dishes, with a great variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. It is native to the Mediterranean, India, and some parts of Africa.

It is easy to grow and requires minimal care, making it a great addition to any kitchen or garden.

But when it comes to basil, how much sun does it need? Is it possible to grow basil in a shaded area? Let’s take a closer look.


Basil prefers full sun but will tolerate some light shade in the afternoon for areas with hot summers.

It also needs moist but well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and has a pH close to neutral (6.5-7.5).

For optimal growth, basil should be harvested regularly throughout the season as it does not store well for long periods of time due to its high moisture content.

For most varieties of basil, spacing should be kept at least 6 inches apart so air circulation can occur without crowding other plants when it is growing outdoors or 8-10 inches apart when grown indoors in containers with well-draining soil mixes such as a combination of peat moss and perlite or coir based media mixtures suitable for container gardening.

Where light is limited such as under tree cover, less vigorous varieties can be chosen if desired such as Genovese “sweet” basil which requires less sunlight than Italian Genovese basil varieties to thrive indoors particularly during cooler months according to the Colorado State University Extension (CSU).


Basil pairs very well in dishes like pesto and pasta sauce, but also as a flavoring ingredient in soups, salads, dressings, and grilled dishes.

When added to a meat marinade it can help lock in moisture to prevent the meat from drying out and will also add flavor.

Basil can be added to tea or served with fruit to make a natural infusion – or used as a garnish on any culinary dish!

It’s important to know the right time of year to plant basil – the best growing season for this fragrant herb runs April-June – as well as how much sun it needs: about six hours per day, with some afternoon shade in particularly hot climates like the Southwest U.S., and moist soil that drains well.

Does Basil Need Sunlight?

How Much Sun Does Basil Need?

When it comes to growing basil, one of the most important things for success is knowing how much sunlight a plant needs.

While basil does require full sun to thrive, there are a few nuances that can be taken into account depending on what climate you live in.

In general, basil needs at least six to eight hours of sun daily.

This can be direct or indirect, but it should receive the majority of its daylight hours with direct sunlight.

In the South and Southwest, plants should have some protection from the overwhelming afternoon heat which they can be shaded until evening.

Regardless of where you live and how much sun your basil will get, it’s important not to leave plants in soggy soil as this can cause root rot.

The soil should remain moist but also drain well so nutrients are not lost due to saturated conditions.

An organic mulch around the base of your plants will help keep moisture reserves constant throughout hot days and limit weeds pushing through between watering events.

For those living in temperate climates who want further information about when and where to place their plants for the best success rate, here’s a summary comparison table that looks at light preferences for optimal growth:

Can Basil Grow in the Shade?

Basil needs ample sunshine to thrive and reach its full potential.

In general, basil needs at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily.

Often gardeners living in very warm climates will provide their basil with afternoon shade, particularly in the South and Southwest regions.

In addition to plenty of sun, basil will also need nutrient-rich soil that drains well.

When planting your basil in a container or other type of pot make sure there are plenty of holes for the water to escape from when you water your plant.

If there are no drainage holes, it can cause the roots to rot which can cause serious damage or even death for your herb plants.

How to Grow Basil in the Shade

Growing basil in the shade can be a challenge for even the most experienced gardener. Basil needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily, with afternoon shade in the South and Southwest.

However, with the right soil, special care, and attention to detail, it is possible to successfully grow basil in the shade.

In this article, I will discuss various tips for growing basil in the shade and cover the pros and cons of growing basil this way.

Choose the Right Variety

When it comes to growing basil in the shade, picking the right plant is essential.

There are several varieties of basil that will tolerate more shade than others.

While aiming for six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily is the goal in most cases, certain cultivars (For example, “Mammoth” and “Cinnamon”) will thrive with just four or five hours – or less – per day.

In addition to providing a lower-light environment for your basil, you must also provide rich soil with plenty of organic matter, ample moisture, and good drainage.

A wide range of soils can support your plants; however, sandy loam or a mix of peat moss and compost work best.

Finally, revisiting your garden periodically throughout the summer helps ensure that your basil receives adequate water, nutrients and light without becoming waterlogged or stressed from heat and drought.

Plant in the Right Location

If you’re planning to grow basil in the shade, it’s important to plan ahead and select a site that offers some morning sun if possible.

Basil needs six to eight hours of sun daily, with afternoon shade in the South and Southwest, and moist, nutrient-rich soil that drains well.

To determine just how much sunlight your basil will actually get in your location, you can consult a light meter or sunrise/sunset table that takes into account seasonal light changes.

When planting basil in any situation—but especially when it comes to shade—you also need to time your planting carefully.

Basil is a fast-growing plant, so aim at planting as early in spring as possible – especially if you plan on growing more than one crop of fresh herbs during the season.

Additionally, be sure to mulch around your plants with organic material like compost or straw to help retain moisture.

Pay close attention to water needs for the best results when looking for success growing Basil in the shade – regular watering is essential since plants may dry out very quickly in sunny areas depending on their height and size ratio – but you will have an easier time with this need since less evaporation occurs.

As always aerating soil regularly is necessary – as this ensures roots are able to receive irrigation better while nourishing other microorganisms inside thus creating healthier growth bases for any Basil being grown indoors or outdoors!


After considering the needs of basil plants and various conditions of growing in the shade, I have come to the conclusion that while basil can survive in the shade, it will not thrive.

Basil needs six to eight hours of sun daily, with afternoon shade in the South and Southwest, and moist, nutrient-rich soil that drains well. Without this ideal combination of sunlight and soil conditions, basil growth will be stunted.

For best results, location should be considered carefully when planting indoors or outdoors in a shady spot.








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