Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Parsley



Rate this Article: 

Average: 3.9 (125 votes)

Parsley is a biennial plant with bright green, feather-like leaves and is in the same family as dill. Here’s how to grow parsley in your own garden.

This popular herb is used in sauces, salads, and especially soups, as it lessens the need for salt. Not only is parsley the perfect garnish, it’s also good for you; it’s rich in iron and vitamins A and C.


  • For a head start, plant seeds in individual pots indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. For better germination, you can soak the seeds overnight.
  • Plant the seeds 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost because parsley is a slow starter. (The plants can handle the cold weather.) It can take up to 3 weeks for the plants to sprout.
  • Plant the seeds in moist, rich soil about 6 to 8 inches apart. For thinner plants, plant about 6 to 10 inches apart. Try to pick an area that is weed-free; that way, you’ll be able to see the parsley sprouting after about 3 weeks.
  • You can use a fluorescent light to help the seedlings grow. Make sure it remains at least two inches above the leaves at all times.
  • To ensure the best growth, the soil should be around 70ºF.
  • Plant parsley near asparagus, corn, and tomatoes in your garden.


  • Be sure to water the seeds often while they germinate so that they don’t dry out.
  • Throughout the summer, be sure to water the plants evenly.


  • Stem rot
  • Leaf spots
  • Black swallowtail larvae
  • Carrot fly and celery fly larvae


  • When the leaf stems have three segments, parsley is ready to be harvested.
  • Cut leaves from the outer portions of the plant whenever you need them. Leave the inner portions of the plant to mature.
  • One method of storing the parsley fresh is to put the leaf stalks in water and keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Another method of storage is drying the parsley. Cut the parsley at the base and hang it in a well-ventilated, shady, and warm place. Once it’s completely dry, crumble it up and store it in an airtight container.
  • If you want fresh parsley throughout the winter, replant a parsley plant in a pot and keep it in a sunny window.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Parsley leaves look a bit funny

I have a parsley plant that I'm growing indoors under full spectrum fluorescent lights with artificial soil. I'm feeding with a liquid organic fertilizer. The seeds are for dark green Italian flat leaf parsley, but the leaves on my parsley are more of a light green. Some of the leaves have a strange wrinkly appearance (not like curly parsley) to them and are thin feeling compared to the Italian parsley I'm used to. The temperature in the room is about 18 to 20 degrees C. The plant looks otherwise quite healthy. Any idea what this might be?

parsley trouble

Hmm. That is a puzzle. Weak growth might indicate not enough light, or not enough nutrients. It sounds like your plant has those, but you might check if you can increase the light a bit (set the lights about 6 or so inches above the plant), and make sure that the plant is getting a balanced diet. Also, you might try increasing the temperature a degree or so (such as 21 C). You might also try increasing the humidity, such as setting it on a tray of pebbles ½ filled with water (make sure pot does not touch the water). Check for any pests that may be hiding under leaves or on stems, and watch for any spots or discoloring that may indicate a disease. Hope this helps!

currly parsley

After moving my pot of parsley into the shed to stop it getting waterlogged it is now going yellow please any ideas.

yellowing parsley

Parsley can turn yellow for several reasons. If the soil was already waterlogged, it may mean that the roots need to dry out.  Your plant may have developed a disease due to the moist conditions, such as crown rot. If the disease progresses, you may need to discard the plant. Do not water until the soil is semi-dry. Water sparingly for a while, only at the base; provide good air circulation and sunlight; and avoid abrupt changes in temperature. Hopefully, the plant will recover. Also check for signs of insects, which may have been drawn to the sickly plant.

I had a baeutiful parsley

I had a baeutiful parsley plant with reach deep green leaves, but now maybe after 12 months it began flowering and is now dying. how can i stop the plant from producing flowers, or do i have to renew it each year?thank you

I live in central Florida. Is

I live in central Florida. Is it too hot here in the summer to grow parsley?

Parsley is technically a

Parsley is technically a biennial plant so it grows in its first season and then sends up flowers its second season. Therefore, parsley is usually treated as an annual and is pulled up and discarded after one year. Once parsley starts to flower, it is setting seed and dies.
One tip to help parsley last longer:  Do not just harvest and clip off the tops. When you harvest, snip the stalks close to the ground. That way, new growth is encouraged throughout the pruning season.

thank you. That was very

thank you. That was very helpful.

flowering parsley

Parsley is a biennial, which means that it will produce leaves the first year, then flower the second year, set seed, and die. Unfortunately, that sounds like what yours is doing. Since once the plant starts flowering, the flavor of the leaves suffers, many gardeners treat parsley as an annual and just replant each year.

Hi, so I have a big beautiful

Hi, so I have a big beautiful parsley plant however little black pods started showing up at the top of my plant, and soon after ants began covering the tops as well. Is there a reason for this and what do I do? my plant is also flowering so my harvest season is over.

I'm not sure what the pods

I'm not sure what the pods might be. I'm guessing that these are smaller than the inch-long chrysalis of the eastern black swallowtail, right? Those caterpillars like to munch parsley, and may pupate there, emerging as a butterfly later on.
Perhaps another possibility is that these little black pods are actually aphids, such as black aphids. Aphids are pear-shape and can look like pods, with tiny legs. Are the pods gathered along the stems and undersides of leaves? Usually, aphids don't move much, as they are all busy drinking sap, but if you disturb them, they will sometimes move slowly. While they drink sap, they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. This substance are a favorite of ants, and sometimes ants will defend the aphids in order to have a supply of this honeydew. Honeydew can also develop sooty mold. If these turn out to be aphids, then you can spray them with a strong spray of water to knock them off. Repeat every few days.

About 6 weeks ago I brought 3

About 6 weeks ago I brought 3 parsley containers indoors to continue growing it. I have some sunlight but mostly fluorescent light.

The plants are growing well. One plant did develop some aphids which I sprayed with Sevin. The aphids died. Now I am noticing some oblong white specks on the leaves. They don't seem to move, although they are spreading to the other plants. I have not used or eaten any of the new growth. In the center of the main stalk there is more growth, which is very deep green.

What am I up against with these little white devils? Is this parsley still edible? Your help would be appreciated very much.

You may have leaf spot which

You may have leaf spot which is maybe fungal disease. It can be treated with a fungicide made for edibles.We suggest removing the affected leaves, putting the plants in an area with good air circulation and watering so that leaves don't get wet.

my last parsley plant was

my last parsley plant was covered with catapillars who eventually ate all the parsley, I am about to plant another parsley, any suggestions to keep this from happening again. Thanks

The caterpillar/s was an

The caterpillar/s was an early stage in the formation of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, an important pollinator. Plants in the carrot family—including parsley, dill, fennel, and Queen Anne's Lace (in the wild) as well as carrots—are its desirable host, and it eats only these, which contain furanocoumarins (chemicals in the seed coat). Some sources say that "infestations" of the larva are uncommon.
You could plant one or more of the hosts as an alternate lure. Or plant more parsley so as to have enough later. Or try row/plant cover, to keep the plants from becoming hosts.
We hope this helps.


I always have the caterpillar problem with dill and cilantro. I read if you crumble eggshells around the base of the plant the caterpillars (or even slugs) don't like crawling over the shells because it hurts their bellies. I tried it and this is the first year I havent had one caterpillar!

They were most likely black

They were most likely black swallowtail caterpillars. Butterflies lay their eggs on specific host plants that the caterpillars are adapted to eat. In the case of black swallowtails, host plants are those in the carrot family, such as carrot, parsley, dill, rue and fennel. If you wish to support this beautiful butterfly, consider planting more parsley than you need for yourself, or covering some of the plants with netting. Also consider planting multiple BS host plants so the eggs don't all get laid on your parsley.

I found that when the soil is

I found that when the soil is high in nutrition no bugs will attack your garden, it is called high brix gardening, get the book called Soil Dead or Alive, is your food your medicine or your poison from amazon a lot of great info in it

My parsley is a beautiful

My parsley is a beautiful green when it's growing, but when I hang it up to dry it turns yellow. Any ideas?

I was just talking to

I was just talking to mydaughter out in Cal. for a little bit and we were talking about parsley and what you can do with it. She said that she knewa lady that uses it for her artheritus. So I decided to get on line and look it into it.and I found this network so I read through it to get some more information on it. My mother used to have quite large plant of it gowing in the house when I was growing up. I used to take little pinches of it and just eat.It tased really good. Janet Mackedanz

Where -a -bouts in the garden

Where -a -bouts in the garden should I place my parsley pot. Does it like direct sunlight, shelter from the wind or shade etc.

Set the container in full sun

Set the container in full sun or partial shade and keep the soil moist.

Can you plant flat leaf

Can you plant flat leaf parsley in the same large planter as curly leaf parsley? Or are they best left in separate planters? They are starter plants, not seeds.

When do you start to harvest?

When do you start to harvest? How do you know?

Parsley generally requires 70

Parsley generally requires 70 to 90 days from the time seed is sown to harvest. Begin harvesting parsley when it produces leaf stems with three segments. Harvest the larger leaves at the outside of the plant first, leaving the new, interior shoots to mature.

Why do the leaves turn

Why do the leaves turn yellow?

If your parsley has yellow

If your parsley has yellow leaves, it is often a watering issue.Make sure that you water consistently each day, giving it a deep soaking at the base of the plant.
Also, is your parsley in a container? Make sure it's at least 10 inches deep so the parsley's long roots aren't overcrowded.
Finally, make sure the soil is rich with nutrients and that you aren't overfertilizing.

I bought a big, beautiful

I bought a big, beautiful Italian parsley plant in a large container from a nursery two weeks ago. I cut off a few yellow leaf branches last week and by this week there were many more yellow branches. I have kept the soil moderately moist and the plant is situated in front of a window in my living room. Why are the parsley leaves turning yellow? Thank you for any advice you can give me.

What do you do when parsley

What do you do when parsley begins to flower? How much and how often should you cut it back? Thanks!

Parsley is a biennial. The

Parsley is a biennial. The first year, it grows it leaves; the second year, it flowers to set seed and dies. You could still harvest any leaves though they'll have less flavor. Once parsley flowers, your harvest is over. You can keep the plant and enjoy the blooms.

Ah, I see. Thanks for the

Ah, I see. Thanks for the information!

Our parsley has sprouted a

Our parsley has sprouted a large thick stalk right out of the center, which had caused the parsley production to halt and the stalk to continue to grow. What is this? If I remove the stalk will the parsley start growing again, or is my plant at the end of it's life?

I have the same stalk growing

I have the same stalk growing and did not see an answer to this inquiry. Do you know what to do?

If you prune it and snip the

If you prune it and snip the buds before blooming, would it still be harvestable?


i heard u only have to at least your finger size and push down into the ground and make a hole then put the seed or the seedling into the ground then cover it with the mud then water it and thats it

Soilless mix

What is "soilless potting mix"?

Soil is absent from the

Soil is absent from the potting mix and lacks pests/disease found in soil.

Parsley in Containers

What about width for the container? How should I fertilize?

A container that is 12 inches

A container that is 12 inches or deeper works well for parsley. Make sure it has drainage holes. Use moistened soilless potting mix to within 2 inches of its top. Mix in some granular slow-acting fertilizer. Water often. Do not let it dry out.

Italian Parsley

How much depth does it need? I'm planting outdoors in containers.

parsley depth

If you are growing parsley in a container, ensure that the depth is at least 8 inches to give enough space for the roots to grow.

Botanical Name: 

Petroselinum crispum

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Free Beginners Garden Guide

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners!
Your complete guide on how to grow a vegetable garden—from scratch!


You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter


Solar Energy Production Today

0.00 kWh

Live data from the solar array at The Old Farmer's Almanac offices in Dublin, NH.