About This Herb
Parsley is one of the most easily identifiable herbs because it’s been used as a garnish for years. But there’s more to parsley than decorating a plate. This herb adds fresh flavor to many dishes or makes a delicious soup or sauce on its own. Plant a few different varieties of both the curled parsley and flat-leaf or Italian parsley.
How to Grow Parsley
Parsley can be grown in the herb garden, vegetable garden, container garden and even the ornamental garden. Curled parsley makes a nice border plant along sidewalks or the edges of the perennial garden, too. Parsley is a biennial plant, but in our region it’s planted and grown as an annual.
Locate a sunny spot and amend to create a rich, moisture-retaining soil. Unlike many other herbs, parsley needs nitrogen fertilizer to grow its deep green leaves.
Parsley can grow from seed started indoors or from transplants. Parsley seeds can test the patience of gardeners because seeds germinate slowly (as long as 4 weeks) and unevenly. To help seeds germinate faster, soak them in lukewarm water overnight before planting.
Most gardeners opt to plant parsley transplants to help get a faster start. Place plants about 8-12 inches apart to allow for them to spread; plants may grow as tall as 1 foot.
Plant plenty of parsley – more than you think you’ll need. Parsley is a favorite food of the parsley worm caterpillar, the one that grows into swallowtail butterflies. The parsley worm caterpillar won’t kill the plant, but will enjoy a good deal of leaves.
Parsley is slightly frost tolerant so it can be planted in early spring. Place transplants in the garden, water in and apply a layer of mulch (like straw). Mulch will help keep the soil cool and moist, just make sure to keep mulch away from the crown of the plant.
Keep up with watering parsley and feed with a general purpose, water soluble fertilizer about once a month through the season.
Parsley leaves can start to be clipped once the leaves are large enough to use in cooking. Clip a few leaves from the outside of the plant, a few at a time to allow the plant to keep on growing.
How to use Parsley in the Kitchen
Parsley is good to use fresh at the end of cooking, to toss with green and potato salads or to mix into an omelet. Dried parsley is best used in foods with longer cooking times, like soups or sauces. Experiment using parsley with other herbs to extend its uses in the kitchen.
Companion Plants for Parsley
Plant parsley with its fines herbes companions:
Parsley can also be mixed into flower gardens and rose beds
Materials for Parsley Success
- Soaker hose or other watering method
- High-quality compost
- Good quality potting soil and containers
- Parsley seed or transplants (plus extras for the parsley worm caterpillar)
- Water soluble plant fertilizer