Parsley is a versatile, fresh ingredient in sauces, salads, and any meal needing color and a mild herbal taste. This popular herb is used to lessen the need for salt in sauces, salads, and soups and is a healthy addition to one’s diet.
Here’s how to grow and care for parsley in your backyard.
Why You Should Consider Growing It
Parsley is available in fresh and dried forms. Its bright, herbaceous, and slightly bitter taste contrasts with the flavors of other ingredients. It is used as a garnish, adding a splash of green and a botanical aroma to food.
Parsley contains vitamins K, C, and A, antioxidant flavonoids, and phenolic compounds. This plant is also high in folic acid, one of the essential B vitamins and amino acids.
As a companion plant, parsley encourages the healthier growth of its neighbors. It also attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and parasitic wasps that attack vegetable pests.
When To Plant It
Parsley seeds can be planted in the garden or started indoors. Plant seeds in individual pots indoors six to eight weeks before the last day of spring frost for a head start. Because parsley grows slowly, direct sow seeds outside three to four weeks before the last spring frost.
Although parsley seeds can germinate in temperatures as cool as 50°F, the optimal soil temperature for germination is around 70°F. Remember that it has a fragile taproot that requires extra attention when transplanting.
Watering parsley two or three times per week is recommended. If the plant is dry, it will wilt but stand upright once it receives adequate water. Although it prefers moist soil, parsley can endure brief periods of drought.
Amount of Sun
Parsley thrives in a bright setting with direct sunlight for six to eight hours daily. It grows well in both full and partial sun. If you’re growing parsley indoors, ensure it gets plenty of sunlight. However, too much sunlight and dry soil can cause it to droop.
Parsley prefers well-drained, organic soil. Use three ounces of commercial 5-10-5 fertilizer per 10 feet of row. For indoor potted plants, fertilizing once every six weeks should be enough. For parsley in outdoor planters, apply fertilizer every four weeks.
Parsley, a fast-growing herb, needs frequent pruning to maintain its vigor. Each time you trim the stems, they will grow back to their original size in two to three weeks. Pruning also prevents it from invading and choking other plants around it. It also helps avoid powdery mildew by opening the plant and increasing ventilation.
The flowers must also be cut or plucked regularly so that the plant’s energy is redirected from generating seeds to producing leaves.
How to Harvest
Parsley is a biennial herb that grows larger the more you collect it. You can harvest parsley when the leaves are large enough to use. Use the fresh herb immediately, or store it in a glass of water in the fridge until needed.
Gather stems and leaves in a bundle and cut them at ground level. You can also take a few sprigs off, starting with the outside stems. If you only remove the green tips and leave the stems, the plant will produce fewer leaves afterward.