Horticulture Magazine

Parsley Plant Care & Growing Tips

hand holding leaves of parsley plant

Parsley Overview

Official Plant NamePetroselinum crispy
Common Name(s)Parsley
Plant TypeHerb
Native AreaMediterranean
Hardiness RatingH6
ToxicityEdible
FoliageDeciduous
When To SowMarch, April, May, June
Plant OutJuly
Harvesting MonthsJune, July, August, September, October
Sunlight

Preferred
Full Sun or Partial Shade

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered

Size

Height
0.1 – 0.5M

Spread
0.1 – 0.5M

Soil

Preferred
Loam

Moisture
Moist but well-drained

pH
Any

Amongst the most popular herbs and spices you’ll find parsley, sometimes dried but preferably fresh.

The distinctive flavour works in all manner of dishes, whether as a sprig on top of a bowl of baba ganoush, chopped up and worked through some falafel mix, or as the main flavour in something like tabbouleh.

And if you enjoy cooking and love the fresh, crisp flavour of parsley, there’s nothing better than having your own supply ready to go as and when you need it…

parsley harvested and bound
Parsley is a wonderful thing

While it’s possible to buy parsley fresh – either in a packet or growing in a pot – there’s a special charm to growing your own.

Not only can you humble-brag to friends and family that you grew some of the ingredients in this delicious plate of food yourself, but you’ll also notice subtle differences in the flavour.

In this article we’ll run you through what you need to know to grow parsley at home. After reading it’ll be comfortably within your reach to have a near-infinite supply of this herb ready to go.

What is parsley?

Parsley is a plant grown mainly as a herb, thanks to its distinctive and versatile flavour.

The plant is native to Mediterranean countries but thanks to its popularity, has now been naturalised in many other regions. Because of its heritage however, you’ll frequently find parsley in cuisines like Lebanese, Greek, Spanish, and North African.

The type of parsley you’re probably most familiar with is curly leaf parsley: commonly used as a garnish to lift a dish both aesthetically and in terms of flavour.

parsley on a chopping board with knife
A lovely sprig of parsley to liven up any plate

Why grow parsley?

Realistically, the best reason to grow parsley is for its culinary applications. As a plant it’s not the most attractive or exciting, so growing it to look at isn’t really recommended.

If you enjoy cooking though, and especially if you enjoy cooking dishes with some Mediterranean element, a supply of your own fresh, home-grown parsley will revolutionise your cooking endeavours.

Rather than using a few sprigs from a pre-bought packet then watching in despair as the rest slowly go soggy and turn black, you can instead snip bits off of the mother plant as and when they’re required.

How to grow parsley

Growing parsley isn’t complicated.

In fact, there’s nothing here beyond the scope of even the most beginner gardener: you just need the most basic supplies like seeds, compost, and either a couple of pots or a patch of ground to work with.

Bear in mind before starting that while technically parsley is a biennial, it behaves like an annual when grown for food purposes, meaning you’ll need to sow anew each year.

Sowing parsley

One of the great things about growing your own parsley is that you can sow in such a way that guarantees a succession of harvests throughout the year.

Sowing parsley is cheap and easy, and having a series of fresh plants coming into maturity in fortnightly or monthly intervals gives you constant access to the highest quality sprigs.

Place parsley seeds by hand in rows 30cm apart. Leave a centimetre between each seed to give them space to grow. Push seeds about a centimetre below the surface of the soil: not too deep otherwise they won’t be able to grow.

Planting out

Once your parsley is established, move them to allow 15cm between each plant.

It can take up to six weeks for the seeds to germinate so don’t worry if things appear to be moving slowly.

parsley seedlings being planted into a  container
Planting out your fledgling parsley gives it more space to grow

Where to grow your plant

Parsley likes soil that’s well-drained, and will favour a spot with full sun or partial shade.

If you’re growing parsley in a pot you can move it around, but if you’re growing in the ground take care to check the conditions are right before deciding on a spot.

Fertilising

Parsley enjoys seaweed-based fertiliser, and applying this every once in a while will encourage a bushier and more vibrant bloom.

Watering

Avoid letting the soil dry out as young parsley plants like to have access to good amounts of moisture. Keep an extra careful eye on your parsley plant during hot summer spells, as it’s prone to get dehydrated and dry out.

Pruning

Trim back any areas of your parsley plant that are turning yellow, as this will allow the plant to direct growth towards the stronger areas.

Yellow parsley isn’t as attractive or tasty as its bright green brethren, so there’s no sense keeping hold of it from a culinary perspective either.

Harvesting

Harvesting parsley is painless: just grab some scissors (or even use your fingernails) and trim off sprigs as and when you need them. If you cut at the base of the stem you’ll set it up to grow back quickly, keeping your supply intact.

By bringing your parsley plants indoors over winter – either in their pots or after repotting from the ground – you ensure their survival and, more importantly, ongoing access to their delicious leaves.

The harvest season depends on when you sowed each batch of seed. It takes somewhere around 80 days for parsley to be ready when growing from seed.

Remember what we said previously about staggered harvests: if you sow multiple batches at fortnightly or monthly intervals, you’ll have plants coming up for harvest at different times.

Troubleshooting common problems

Keep your eyes peeled for these pests, as they might take a fancy to your parsley crop and cause damage if left unattended.

Carrot fly

Who’d believe that a specific type of fly would evolve to harass carrots and – like parsley – other members of the carrot family?

Well unfortunately, you better believe it. These flies, Psila rosae, focus their entire life cycle on the pillaging of carrots and their close cousins.

By tunnelling into the roots and eating various parts of the plant, these pests cause damage and rotting if left unattended.

Use a pesticide spray if you see these critters investigating your parsley crop.

Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails, predictably, like to interfere with parsley crops. They will happily chew through the leaves, with the combined effect of reducing the amount available for cooking, and making you wary of using what’s left in case it’s covered in slime trails.

By planting parsley near onions and garlic you can deter these slimy visitors. Alternatively look into the various types of traps and barriers available to keep them away from your crop.

Storing parsley

While best used fresh, there are a few ways to store parsley to keep your crop in good condition for later use.

Freezing is one option: chop up leaves, then fill ice cube tray sections with parsley and water to make little parsley cubes. Simply chuck one of these into the pan when cooking a dish that requires this herb!

Note: we don’t recommend using frozen and defrosted parsley for dishes that require it fresh! Tabbouleh for example, or any type of salad. This method works best for things like falafel where parsley is cooked along with the other ingredients.

You can also dry parsley by hanging it in bunches in a warm, dark, airy space. After a few weeks it’ll be noticeably dry, and you can crush up the leaves (either in a pestle and mortar, or with a quick blitz in a Nutribullet or similar) and store them in a jar or similar container.

Again, this format of parsley isn’t great when you need that distinctive fresh flavour, but works very well in cooked dishes.

Growing your own parsley: give it a go!

Hopefully you’re now intrigued and excited to grow your own parsley. We can’t recommend this enough: having access to a fresh and ongoing harvest of this herb will have a massive positive impact on your culinary prowess.

You’ll find yourself experimenting with it more often, safe in the knowledge that there’s plenty available for use. You’ll also save money, as store-bought parsley is surprisingly expensive for the amount you get (and, usually, the amount that ends up going in the bin).

Follow the steps above and you’ll have fresh, tasty parsley on hand whenever you need.

With cheap seeds and easy-to-follow growing instructions, it’s hard to go far wrong when growing this plant.

We wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy the growing just as much as the eating that follows!

© 2021 TKO DIGITAL LTD | Registered in England and Wales No. 10866260 | This website uses cookies.