Parsley used to be all the rage as a garnish, and then slowly it became less popular. Now, there is a resurgence for this fragrant herb. Find out when to plant parsley and how to make it last as long as possible.
When to plant parsley: Parsley should be planted in early spring, two weeks before the last frost date. It takes up to four weeks for the seedlings to break through the soil. You can harvest as need be and as long as you keep watering, parsley will last until early summer.
Planting Parsley in Different Climates
Parsley should be fine in a tropical climate. It likes moist soil and plenty of sunshine.
Parsley won’t do well in a dry climate as it requires moist soil. You can, however, grow it in a container or indoors where you can constantly water it.
Parsley grows the best in a temperate climate. The moderate spring temperature means you can get it in the ground earlier, which is a bonus as it takes a while to grow at first.
The warmer winter weather means your parsley has a decent chance of self-seeding, so don’t be surprised if you have new parsley plants that pop up all on their own in the spring.
In a continental climate, parsley will grow well but you should expect a shorter growing season. To help it out, start your seeds indoors as it will be too cool to plant in early spring. Furthermore, the hot summer weather means your parsley will start to bolt and flower a lot earlier.
Parsley probably won’t grow in a polar climate. It needs sunlight and soil that is warm. You may be able to try it in the middle of summer.
Choosing Parsley Seeds
This is the most common variety of parsley you will find and perhaps the most iconic, as it is in any grocery store. Curly parsley is used as both a garnish and in dishes and grows very fast.
Perhaps the second most popular variety, flat-leaf parsley is quite tall and can grow up to 36 inches. The leaves look similar to cilantro, so many people often confuse the two.
At first glance, you may mistake this variety for a fern. While the leaves are not edible, the roots are quite large and are perfect to add to stews or soups.
This variety, as you can tell from the name, is native to Japan and China. It has a slightly bitter taste to it but the stems are so sturdy you can eat them raw, just as you would with celery.
How to Plant Parsley Seeds
Parsley needs plenty of sunlight, at least six hours of it, so be sure to plant in full sun. There are many places you can plant parsley, including in your garden or in a container.
It is also a quite compact herb, so if you only have space on a kitchen windowsill, it will still grow really well.
Parsley prefers to grow in soil that is moist but is well-draining. The best way to go about this is to add plenty of compost to your garden before you start planting.
You can also aim for soil that is slightly acidic. Parsley prefers soil with a pH level of 6.0 but if you can’t quite get there, it will still grow.
Finally, try your best to get rid of weeds before planting. Parsley seedlings are often confused with weeds so if the area is nicely cleared, it is much easier to spot when your parsley comes through the ground.
There are two ways to plant parsley. You can either direct sow the seeds outdoors or you can get a head start and plant them indoors.
For indoor growing, plant your parsley seeds in their own containers about six weeks before the last frost date of the spring. Parsley roots are incredibly delicate when they are young so it is much easier to transplant them to your garden if they are in individual containers.
For direct outdoor growing, you can start the seeds three weeks before the last frost date in the spring. Pasley will be ok with cooler temperatures at first and it grows rather slowly so you want to get it in the garden at the beginning of spring.
While parsley grows optimally in soil that has a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it will also start to grow if the soil is still just 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give you some leeway with planting.
To give your parsley a head start with germination, you can soak the seeds for two hours before planting. This will entice them to open up earlier.
Parsley seeds are quite tiny so they only need to be planted at a depth of ¼ of an inch. Sow each seed about six inches apart. However, you can sow them closer together and thin them out once they start to grow in.
Don’t despair if your parsley doesn’t grow right away. It can take the seeds up to four weeks before they break through the ground.
Because parsley takes so long to start to sprout, you may feel like you have a lot of empty space in your garden. One way to take advantage of this is to plant radishes.
You can plant a radish seed in between each parsley seed. As radishes are fast-growing, they will take advantage of the empty space and will also help mark where your parsley is so that you don’t inadvertently dig through the area.
How to Water Parsley
Watering your planted area is very important with parsley. You might forget the seeds as they are still underground but they won’t germinate unless the ground is continually moist.
Once your parsley starts to sprout, continue to water on a regular basis. These plants can last until early summer and while there may be enough rainfall in the spring, once the warmer temperatures appear, you will need to supplement with more watering.
How to Grow Parsley
Keeping the area around your parsley is important for the strong growth of your plants. Parsley weeds are fairly shallow so they will be competing with weeds for access to nutrients.
After your parsley starts to sprout, you can add a layer of bark mulch around the plants which will help keep weeds from taking over.
Start your soil out right with plenty of organic matter. Then, you shouldn’t have to add any more fertilizer as the parsley grows.
Annual or biennial
While parsley is technically a biennial plant, which means it will produce edible leaves every two years, most gardeners treat it as annual. The plant is easy and inexpensive to grow so it makes sense to simply replace the plants each year.
Furthermore, after the first year of growth, parsley leaves can become quite bitter, so you may not even want to use them.
If you live in a temperate area and allow your parsley plants to flower and grow seeds, they may re-seed themselves naturally.
How to harvest parsley?
Pay attention to the leaves of your parsley to know when you can harvest it. There should be at least three segments in a leaf stem.
You can then cut off parsley stems as you need them. Cut off from the outside of the plant to allow new growth to come through.
It takes about two to three weeks for there to be new growth of parsley leaves which means if you only take what you need, you will have a continuous supply of parsley until early or mid-summer.
How to store parsley
If you have an abundance of parsley or want to take a last, large cutting of the plant before it becomes too hot, you can store it for future use.
Wrap the parsley in a piece of moist paper towel or place the stalks in a glass of fresh water with the leaves sticking up. Parsley will keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For year-round parsley, you can also dry it. Hang parsley stems upside down in a dry, warm area.
After a few weeks, the parsley should be completely dry and you can then crumble it up and store it for use during the winter.
How long does parsley take to grow?
Parsley can take two to four weeks to actually push its way out of the soil. After this, however, the plant will grow more quickly and be ready for consumption in a few more weeks.
If you continue to pick your parsley, the plant will keep producing edible leaves that you can enjoy into early summer.
Parsley is a great addition to soups or stews and can easily be grown in your garden. Plant just before the last threat of frost in the spring and while it can take a few weeks to germinate, you will have access to parsley through to the early summer.