Known for its bright green, feather-like leaves, parsley is a biennial plant that is from the same family as dill (Apiaceae). Though the parsley plant is considered a biennial given its Mediterranean roots, it’s commonly grown as an annual in home gardens. Though the leaves tend to become more bitter and tough after the first year, the plant will gladly reseed itself in temperate zones.
Planting and Growing Information:
Be sure to pick a spot that receives full sun (6+ hours of sunlight) and has well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Ideally, soil pH should be around 6.0 (slightly acidic). Also, try to choose an area that’s weed-free as it’s easier to see the parsley sprouting. Parsley seeds can be started indoors or sown directly in the garden. Given the taproot of parsley plants is delicate, be sure to take extra care if transplanting. To get a head start, plant seeds in individual pots indoors 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last spring frost date. With parsley being a slow starter, sow seeds outdoors 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost. For the best germination, soil should be around 70°F, but parsley seeds will germinate in temperatures as low as 50°F.
Given the germination rate of parsley seeds tends to be low, consider soaking the seeds for 1-2 hours before sowing to have a good germination process. Sow parsley seeds ¼ inch deep and about 6 to 8 inches apart. For larger plants, sow about 8 to 10 inches apart. Always make sure to keep soil moist while seeds germinate. It can take 2 to 4 weeks for seedlings to appear. An important suggestion is to plant radish seeds in the gaps between parsley seeds. That way, the radishes will sprout and grow before the parsley appears, and the radishes will mark the row. You can use a glow light to help seedlings grow indoors, but make sure it remains at least two inches above the leaves at all times. Ensure that the parsley plants are being sufficiently watered, especially during the heat of summer. To conserve moisture, lightly mulch around the plants.
For parsley to grow, it does best in well-drained soil with rich, organic matter. During the growing season, fertilize plants in garden beds once or twice by using a 5-10-5 fertilizer at a rate of three ounces per 10 feet of row. For container-grown plants outside, use a liquid fertilizer at one-half the label-recommended strength every 3 to 4 weeks, and every 4 to 6 weeks for parsley grown indoors.
Parsley is ready to be harvested once the leaf stems have at least three segments. Cut leaves from the plant’s outer stems whenever you need them. Be sure to leave the inner portions of the plant to mature. Ideally, allow 2 to 3 weeks for regrowth between major harvests. Replant a parsley plant in a pot and keep it in a sunny window should you want fresh parsley throughout the winter.