Updated: Sep 15, 2022
This fresh and mild herb is widely used in a variety of dishes. While also adding a fragrant punch to your soups and salads, parsley is also high in some essential vitamins – like vitamin K and vitamin A.
To help ensure your Parsley thrives, we’ve put together this how-to video and transcript covering topics like:
Varieties of Parsley available
Caring for Parsley at all stages
Fertilizer and Mulching
Transplanting best practices
Parsley Companion Plants
Pests, Diseases and what to do about them
Harvesting and storing your Parsley
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Ready for a horticulture adventure growing parsley crops?
Glossary of parsley terms
Growing Parsley is easier when you know the terms often used. So, before we get started, let’s learn a little bit about parsley.
Plants that grow to their full size in the first year, but develop flowers in the second growing season.
A plant that’s able to pollinate itself, and can also get pollinated by wind, insects or by human hand.
The process of gently pulling out seedlings to leave only the strongest and most mature plants behind. This encourages proper plant growth and allows your parsley to thrive without any major competition for water and nutrients.
Varieties of parsley
Growing parsley comes with a variety of looks and flavours. Below are the best varieties of parsley for home gardeners and horticulture enthusiasts alike. From growing in containers to hobby farming, you'll love these. There are three main parsley varieties:
Extra Curled Dwarf A dark green variety with sharply edged, curled leaves.
Forest Green The leaves of this productive variety are double and triple curled.
Green River It has double curled leaves, is very heat- tolerant, and is great for drying.
Plain Leaf A dark green, celery-leaf type of parsley.
Giant of Italy A variety with huge, dark green leaves, strong stems, and a sweet flavor.
Dark green Italian A variety with strong taste, celery- like leaves, and stiff, upright stems.
This variety, with its flat leaves, is mainly grown for its large edible root.
Starting your parsley seeds
Growing parsley when you're starting right from their small seeds.
Before planting, try soaking your seeds in water overnight. This can help with the germination process, since parsley seeds are typically very slow to germinate.
You’ll want to sow your seeds indoors about a quarter inch (5mm) deep into your soil. Then, thin your seedlings to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) apart once they’re about 1-2 inches (2.5- 5cm) tall.
If you’re starting seeds outdoors, sow them 1 and a quarter-inches (3cm) deep, spaced out 3 inches (8cm) apart and in rows that are 12-18 inches (30-45cm) apart.
Soak your parsley seeds in water the night before you plant them to help with the germination process.
Caring for parsley
Growing parsley at all stages
In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about soil requirements, pruning, fertilizer, and mulch.
We’ll also talk transplanting best practices, companion planting, and your growing structure options.
Parsley is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 5. It prefers rich acidic to basic soil, with a pH between 5.8 and 7.2. It grows best is well-draining soil in the sun or in partial shade – and that shade is most important when parsley is grown in hot summers.
This herb can handle light frosts at temperatures between 28-32°F (-2 to 0°C), and it will also grow all winter if protected well – like by a layer of mulch.
Make sure to clip any flower stalks if they appear in the first year of growth. This will help keep your plant productive.
Also, if you allow one or two parsley plants to produce seeds, they will usually self-sow again.
FERTILIZING AND MULCHING
Growing parsley with the plant food and protection they like.
During their seedling stage (about 3-4 weeks old), feed your young plants some starter solution. This will help to give them a nice boost.
Also, mulch helps your parsley overwinter outdoors. You can use organic matter like straw, hay, or grass clippings to keep your parsley safe in the colder months.
TRANSPLANTING BEST PRACTICES
Growing parsley when you're working with parley transplants
Transplant your parsley outside once the plants have 4-5 leaves. Before they go in the ground though, harden-off the seedlings by lowering their water and temperature levels.
Then, set them outdoors in a sheltered spot for about a week before transplanting. This process toughens up your plants, and reduces their risk of shock and stress from the new outside elements.
To transplant, make a hole that’s big enough to accommodate the root ball.
Gently take out the plant and loosen the soil around the root ball before planting it into the hole.
After your parsley has its new home, be sure to give it a nice drink.
GROWING STRUCTURE OPTIONS
Growing parsley in all kinds of environments is part of the fun with this flexible crop.
Parsley will grow well in every structure (raised bed, open fields, etc.) and will also thrive inside.
Just make sure your parsley is getting its light and soil needs, and that it’s not planted next to mint.
When growing your parsley inside the whole year round, make sure you keep it in a sunny spot like on your windowsill.
The great thing about containers is that you can take your parsley inside to keep it alive during the winter.
Your minimum container size should be about 5 inches in diameter for each plant – and make sure your container has holes in the bottom to allow for good water drainage.
This is a decorative way to grow your parsley both indoors and outdoors. Set your transplants into the jar, keeping in mind that direct seeding doesn’t work the best for this option.
If possible, drill some holes in the bottom for drainage, or put some stones or pottery shards in the bottom to avoid getting your parsley roots too wet.
Once you notice your plant is outgrowing its jar, you can then transfer it into a bigger jar or any other container.
PARSLEY COMPANION PLANTS
Best companion plants for Parsley are:
Asparagus is a great companion, because leaves can be sprinkled on the asparagus to repel asparagus beetles.
Also, carrots, chives, onions, corn, tomatoes are all great veggies to grow with your parsley.
Also, keep in mind that blooming parsley attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, which can be beneficial for so many plants in your garden.
Avoid growing parsley with:
Mint has spreading roots that will easily overtake other plants, so you’ll want to avoid planting it with your parsley.
Common challenges and their solutions
There are a few pests and diseases that could potentially harm your parsley plant. Not to worry – we’ve outlined them below, plus how to either avoid or fix the issue.
Growing parsley free of all the typical vegetable garden pests.
CROSS-STRIPED CABBAGE WORM
These worms lay their eggs in batches on the lower leaf surface. Its larvae eat the leaves, which can cause them to become skeletonized.
Solution: Hand-pick the larvae and eggs if you find them. Also, insecticidal sprays might also be helpful against this pest.
CABBAGE WORM (IMPORTED)
This caterpillar is gray-green in color and slightly fuzzy. After it eats the leaves, it leaves wet green droppings behind.
Solution: Hand-pick cabbage worms if you find them on your plants. There are also parasitic wasps that feed on them, which can be an effective (and organic) solution.
Growing parsley disease free
BACTERIAL LEAF BLIGHT
A disease causing the yellowing and dwarfing of your parsley plant, which can be spread by water, wind, animals, or people. Irregular brown spots will also appear on the leaves of your parsley.
Solution: Plant certified disease-free seeds when possible and practice proper crop rotation.
This disease causes a white layer to appear on leaves, which will then turn yellow and begin to wilt. If the infection is heavy, spots under the white layer will dry up. Powdery mildew thrives in high temperatures and drought, and often acts as an entry point for other pests and diseases.
Solution: Be sure to remove and destroy any infected plants. Plant disease- free seeds when possible, and destroy the remainders after harvest.
Also, make sure your plants have enough of a water supply to avoid drought stress.
Grey and yellow spots with irregular shapes will appear from this disease. These spots can then turn a whitish color while small black spots can often appear inside. This fungus thrives in high temperatures and moist conditions.
Solution: Make sure you remove and destroy any infected plants.
You’ll also want to space out your plants enough so that they have good air circulation.
CARROT LEAF BLIGHT
Typically, small brown spots surrounded by yellow will appear on the leaves of your plant – and when the infection is severe, leaves can become completely dry. This fungus usually attacks the old leaves first, and then spreads to the rest of your plant.
Solution: It’s important to remove and destroy any infected plants.
Plant disease-free seeds when possible, and/or treat your seeds with 122°F (50°C) water for 20 minutes before planting. That exposure to hot water will help kill off the disease before you plant.
Harvesting and storing
Growing parsley for today... and tomorrow.
Parsley can be harvested almost year-round because their branches always regrow. Usually, parsley is picked leaf by leaf.
Either put your parsley in the fridge, or in a jar with its stems in some water for fresh storage.
Parsley doesn’t usually hold its flavor very well when it’s dried. However, it’s still well-suited for freeze drying. You can try freezing fresh leaves in ice cube trays for later use.