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How to Grow Parsley: Tips & More

Parsley is a staple in herb and vegetable gardens across the globe. It has powerful immune-boosting properties, and growing parsley can even be beneficial to other plants. Parsley is an easy to grow biennial herb loaded with antioxidants and comes in two main varieties: curly leafed and flat-leafed.

Sprigs of parsley are delightful additions to salads and make first-rate accents for various culinary cuisines, and can be lovely as a garnish. Parsley has even been known to be an instant breath refresher when nibbled on.

Check out our robust guide on how to grow parsley: tips and more so you too can have high-yielding, ready-to-use herbs at your fingertips all season long.

Parsley growing in a garden.

Ideal Soil Composition & pH for Growing Parsley

Growing parsley is best done in soil that is rich in nutrients, is moist but well-draining. Amend soil with organic matter, well-decomposed compost, and worm castings for optimal growing results.

Like many of its herb friends, parsley enjoys soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 7. If you are unsure of your soil pH or what your soil needs to be amended with, visit your local extension office with a soil sample or obtain a simple soil test from your local garden center or nursery.

Parsley Growing Conditions

Parsley plants perform exceptionally well in full sun to partial sun conditions. Parsley is a reasonably hardy biennial plant and can survive a dip in temperatures once established.

Planting & Growing Parsley

Growing parsley is relatively easy because the plant and can be directly sown into the garden bed, started indoors, or purchased as transplants.

Growing Parsley from Seed

When growing parsley from seed, start by sprinkling seeds on the surface of prepared soil, then add 1/4 inch of soil. Parsley seeds can be planted once the soil is workable and temperatures are above freezing. Keep the area well-watered throughout the germination period.

Starting Parsley Seeds Indoors

Start seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost date in your area. Seeds can take between 14- 21 days to germinate, but they will be rewarding to admire once they do.

Harden seedlings off about two weeks before planting outdoors and plant in their permanent growing space two to three weeks after all danger of frost has passed.

Transplanting Parsley Plants

Parsley is readily available at garden centers, nurseries, and sometimes even in your grocery store. So, if you are eager to get started and simply cannot wait to begin growing parsley, buying a hardy parsley plant is a viable option. Transplant young plants outdoors after the ground is workable, and all danger of frost has passed.

cutting homegrown parsley from a herbal raised bed on a balcony.

Ideal Spacing for Parsley Plants

It’s essential to give parsley room to grow. Ideally, plants should be spaced about 8-10 inches apart with 12-24 inches between rows. Although, they can be more densely planted in containers and raised beds.

Growing Parsley in Pots, Raised Beds, & In-Ground Gardens

Parsley produces large taproots, so it is essential to provide enough soil depth to accommodate the plant’s needs to reach its potential, but it can be grown just about anywhere. Raised beds and deep containers allow gardeners to best control the depth of loose soil and soil quality and help deter parsley plants’ common pests.

In-ground planting is also a viable option, as long as you amend the soil with compost to enrich the soil and improve the soil structure so that the roots can dive deep into the ground.

Growing Parsley Indoors

Another great option is to start growing parsley indoors. Parsley makes an excellent indoor plant as a readily available kitchen herb. Consider planting an indoor herb garden or a windowsill garden of herbs such as parsley, basil, oregano chives, rosemary, and mint.

How Often to Water Parsley

Parsley thrives in moist soil. Water parsley plants regularly and do not allow the soil to dry out, or the plant may prematurely bolt, thereby shortening your growing season and minimizing your harvest. It is beneficial to add one to two inches of mulch around your plants to regulate soil temperature and retain moisture.

Nutrients Need for Growing Parsley

Prepare your soil with organic matter before planting to ensure the best nutritional start for your parsley plants.  Plants will enjoy a boost of nutrients with a side dressing of compost or fertilization monthly.

The Best Way to Harvest Parsley

Parsley should be harvested using the cut and come again method. Snip or pinch off leaves at any point in the growing season. Start with the outer stems, allowing more immature leaves to mature fully. Harvest individual leaves by trimming stems back to the base of the plant.

Parsley bouquet on a wooden surface.

Parsley Companion Plants

When thinking about growing parsley, one must include companion planting for this crop. Companion planting is a gardening method that both augments and guards vulnerable crops against pests. Interplanting parsley with other crops in your garden can deter pests, attract beneficial insects and pollinators, and boost yields.

Parsley is an excellent companion plant in the garden, especially when it is allowed to flower.  So, consider planting a few extra plants around your garden bed and allow them to go to seed.

Try planting parsley with some of these crops:

  • Asparagus – Parsley and asparagus help boost each other’s production. Parsley deters the asparagus beetle.
  • Tomatoes – Parsley attracts hoverflies, which seek to prey on tomato-damaging aphids.
  • Corn – Parsley attracts parasitic wasps which feed on earworms and cutworms that feed on corn plants.
  • Beans – Parsley attracts parasitic wasps, which feed on cutworms that prey on bean plants.
  • Peppers – Parsley attracts hoverflies, which seek to prey on tomato-damaging aphids.
  • Roses – Parsley deters rose beetles and draws in beneficial insects like hoverflies, which feed on destructive aphids that prey on roses.

Common Parsley Plant Pests & Disease

  • Root Rot – If soil is too wet and doesn’t drain well, too much moisture settles around plant roots and can cause roots to decay. Ensure that plants are not overwatered and are not planted in an area where water pools.
  • Leaf Spot– A fungus that causes yellowing of leaves, browning, and leaf drop. To avoid fungal infections, space plants adequately so air can pass through freely. Water plants early in the morning, rather than in the evening, so plant leaves have an opportunity to dry between watering sessions.
  • Blight– A fungus that produces a grayish-white mold on plant leaves, causing a plant’s death. Space plants appropriately for airflow and rotate crops from year to year.

Recommended Parsley Varieties to Grow

There are two main species of parsley: Italian and curly. Both varieties are biennial plants that are primarily grown as annual plants.  Parsley plants of both types tend to be more flavorful in their first year of growth.

Curly Parsley Varieties

Curly parsley tends to be more heat tolerant and resistant to bolting than its sister, Italian flat-leafed parsley.

  • ‘Extra Curled Dwarf’
  • ‘Double Curled’

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Varieties

Most varieties of these plants have a dynamic, bold flavor.

  • ‘Italian Essence’
  • ‘Single Italian’
  • ‘Gigante D’Italia’

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