Botanical Name: 

Pastinaca sativa

Plant Type: 


Hardiness Zone: 


Soil pH: 

Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Sun Exposure: 

Full Sun
Part Sun

Soil Type: 



  • Always sow fresh seed.
  • Parsnips need a long growing season, so sow as soon as the soil is workable.
  • Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15 inches and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
  • Sow 2 seeds per inch ½ an inch deep
  • Seedlings will emerge in 2-3 weeks


  • Thin the seedlings to stand 3-6 inches apart.
  • Water during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Always keep the beds free of weeds.


  • Aphids
  • Leaf Miners
  • Carrot Rust Flies
  • Parsnip Canker (all cultivars but 'Tender and True' are resistant to this)


  • Parsnips mature in about 16 weeks.
  • Leave your parsnips in the ground for a few frosts but harvest before the ground freezes.
  • If you leave them in the ground for the winter, cover them with a thick layer of mulch and harvest immediately after the ground thaws in the spring.


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Parsnip Cultivation

The reader will be better informed by this article than one by the Royal Horticultural Society.

fixing parsnips

we usually peel and boil until almost done. then transfer to baking dish and cover with brown sugar and butter and bake until completely done. yum yum

sounds great but try slicing

sounds great but try slicing like potatoes fry in a skillet slowly in butter and add brown sugar when they are tender sautee and serve does bot take ling to do this way.

We just steam parsnips with

We just steam parsnips with other vegetables & enjoy with salmon patties. I drink the juice. I also blend raw til it is a liquid with raw pineapple slices & raw eggs, adding reverse water as needed. Delicious & SO GOOD FOR YOU.

My wife and I enjoy them raw

My wife and I enjoy them raw on a vegetable tray with dip.Slice them thin, skin and all.YUM!

Last fall I left my parsnips

Last fall I left my parsnips in the ground. I had them covered, but uncovered to dig some and forgot to cover them back before the hard freeze. I covered them after the freeze, but they had froze. This spring I tilled the tops off and they are growing again. Should I leave them or till them up?

Parsnips are best if they

Parsnips are best if they stay in the ground for a frost--or, a few frosts! They're also fine if you leave them in the ground and overwinter, even through the snow. However, we would harvest the roots in the spring before new growth begins. If you have too many parsnips, you can always blanche and freeze.

I Have a large problem with

I Have a large problem with mine for the last two years. I use fresh seed and my soil has cow manure worked into the grown before planting. My husband then plants the seeds like carrot seeds are planted with sand due to the size. Now we have already planted them, twice this year. Can anybody HELP ,GARDENER NEEDS HELP!!!!!

I have been pre-sprouting my

I have been pre-sprouting my parsnips for the last few years with great success. Just dump all of the seeds on a wet paper towel and cover them with a fold of the towel. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and put on top of the fridge. They take quite awhile to sprout, 2-4 weeks.If you are lucky half of them will sprout. Parsnip seeds are not real viable.Plant the sprouts as you would the seeds.Enjoy success as I have.

I overwintered parsnips. Did

I overwintered parsnips. Did nothing this season, now have 5 foot tall plants. What should I do?

Overwintered parsnips taste

Overwintered parsnips taste wonderfully tender and sweet from the frost. Flower stalks can indeed grow five feet tall, blossoming with large yellow flowers.You want to dig them up, as they can no longer store well. They have long tap roots so get ready to dig!

Are the lower leaves (stalks)

Are the lower leaves (stalks) supposed to fan out onto the ground? I can barely get into my parsnip patch because of these lower leaves fanning out on the ground. It prevents me from weeding, because if I walk in there, I'll trample the parsnip leaves and break the stalks.

That's interesting that your

That's interesting that your parsnip greens are fanned onto the ground. You can trim them a little bit to make weeding easier, but keep in mind that some people develop a rash after handling parsnip greens. It is best to wear gloves when handling the tops.

I have parsnips in the ground

I have parsnips in the ground and would like to over-winter. The foliage has grown tall, can I cut the foliage before I mulch? What's the best mulch to use?

If you overwinter your

If you overwinter your parsnips, just add a few inches of soil over the crowns after the first fall frosts.Harvest the roots in early spring. They should be even more tender and sweet!

I have what I suspect is some

I have what I suspect is some kind of wild parsnips which I pulled up from ground that is now devoted to a hazelnut orchard. I am inexperienced with parsnips and am unsure if these are safe to eat. The crowns were above ground and are turning green. They also have an irregular shape unlike the more carrot-like ones in your picture.I am keeping them in the refrigerator in a plastic grocery bag for now. I need some advice before I go any further. Thanks

You are definitely correct to

You are definitely correct to not eat any wild plant without a definite identification by an expert. Unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to do that here. We'd suggest that you take the plant sample to a knowledgeable horticulturist in your area, such as those at your county's Cooperative Extension.
The wild parsnip plant (Pastinaca sativa) has several lookalikes, including one of the deadliest plants in North America, water hemlock. Even wild parsnips, although the roots are edible, have a sap that can cause severe skin irritation, discoloration, rash, and blisters when the sap on the skin is exposed to light; all aboveground parts are poisonous. Only the root is edible. When harvesting wild parsnip (which is invasive in many areas), always use gloves, long sleeves, long pants, etc. to avoid getting the sap on your skin.
Water hemlock (Cicuta douglasii), poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), cowbane (Cicuta virosa), wild carrot, etc. all look similar. Below are a few sites that describe wild parsnip and the hemlock lookalikes:

I left some parsnips in the

I left some parsnips in the ground over the winter but by the time I remembered to pull them this spring, they'd already started new growth. I went ahead and pulled them, cut the tops off, and put them in the fridge, but are they still going to taste okay if I cook them at this point? I can always give them to my chickens if not, but I thought I'd ask before I took the time to prepare them.

Parsnips harvested in early

Parsnips harvested in early spring, before new growth starts, can taste sweet, as the starches change to sugar in preparation for growth. However, once the tops start to grow, the root can lose flavor and become fibrous. If you harvested them just when the leaves were barely emerging, it might be worth a taste. If there was a lot of growth, however, flavor might have suffered.

This past year was our first

This past year was our first attempt at growing parsnips. We harvested them after a few frosts as directed but the centers were fibrous and woody. We had to cut the centers out before we could eat the outer parts. What might have caused this problem and how can we prevent it this year?

They may have been harvested

They may have been harvested too late. They become more fibrous and woody if they get too large. It's fine to eat them; as you have done, just cut out that tough center.
Next time, you might also try spacing them a little more closely, such as 2 to 4 inches apart, to keep them smaller. Make sure that they get plenty of water, and provide mulch to keep the soil moist--too little water encourages woodiness.

The only way I have ever

The only way I have ever eaten them, is to peel them and slice them the long way and fry them in butter. love them that way.

We left out parsnips in the

We left out parsnips in the ground all winter they came up late this spring. Now they are tall and healthy looking but are growing what appears to be yellow seeds on top. They are circular in appearance. When we dig down they are small what is causing this problem? we have sandy soil.

Parsnips that have been

Parsnips that have been planted too late in the season will be small. Could that be the trouble? For many areas of the country, the ideal time would be to sow seeds in early spring. Too much nitrogen, or too crowded, can also cause small roots.
If the parsnips overwinter, harvest them before the top growth starts, or the root quality may suffer, such as turning woody. The yellow seeds developing on top is natural--parsnips are biennial, so they will go to seed the second year.

I have planted parsnips in my

I have planted parsnips in my raised bed Manitoba garden this year for the first time. With our minus 30 and 40 degree winter temps, if I mulch and leave some to over winter, will they survive to eat in the spring?

Hi Janice, It is unlikely

Hi Janice, It is unlikely that your parsnips could survive that cold a winter in the ground. Even in Minnesota the extension office recommends harvesting parsnips in the fall after a few frosts and storing them in a root cellar for the winter. You could always leave a few in the ground and give it a try!

I like to bake them with

I like to bake them with other root vegetables. like beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions. Dice them up in big chunks,throw them in a bowl, cover them with olive oil and seasoning salt, spread them on a baking sheet, then bake until tender. Delicious