Know Everything You Need to Grow Parsley
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How to Grow Parsley
Native to Europe, parsley is a very attractive biennial plant, often grown as an annual culinary herb. Growing in tufts of lacy foliage about a foot high, parsley has triangular, dark green leaves that make a good garnish or aromatic addition to recipes. If it is allowed to overwinter, it will bloom again a second year, but the taste turns bitter after the first year.
Best sown in early spring through summer, most varieties of parsley grow very slowly and establish maturity between 70 and 90 days after planting. Germination rates are considerably lower for parsley than for other cooking herbs, so it's a good idea to always plant more seeds than you think you'll want.
|Botanical Name||Petroselinum crispum|
|Plant Type||Annual herb|
|Size||6–12 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to part shade|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Soil pH||6.0 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)|
|Hardiness Zones||2–11 (USDA)|
How to Plant Parsley
Different varieties of parsley produce different flavors, so consider how you would like to use the herb before choosing what to grow in your garden. Curly leaf parsley is a bit bitter to some popsicles, while flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley) is more popular with cooks today.
It really doesn't take a lot of maintenance to grow parsley - lots of water and a little good soil (or fertilizer) and it should be fine. Another advantage of growing parsley is the small footprint of the plant. It doesn't really require a lot of space, making it a great option for almost any gardener, whether you have a large plot of land, a small container, or just a window sill. Plus, with the ability to grow parsley indoors or outdoors, you can ensure your kitchen is fully stocked with the versatile herb year-round.
Parsley plants are adapted to a variety of conditions and will grow well in environments ranging from full sun to partial shade. If your growing area is especially warm, afternoon shade is welcome, although ultimately the plants should get at least eight hours of sun a day.
Since parsley is grown for its leaves, it likes soils rich in organic matter. The soil should be moist but well-drained so that the plant does not get soggy.
If growing in pots or containers, consider planting your parsley in a terracotta or terracotta pot, which will help absorb excess moisture from the soil. Also, parsley does best in a mix with a soil pH somewhere between neutral and slightly acidic between 6.0 and 7.0.
Parsley plants love to be constantly moist and your plant will benefit from at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week (both from rain and manual watering methods).
Never allow the soil on your parsley plant to dry out - the herb does not tolerate drought well and will quickly wilt and brown.
Temperature and humidity
Parsley can grow in a wide range of temperature requirements as long as it is properly grown within its USDA hardiness zone. That said, the plant will do best in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a particularly hot area during the summer, be sure to give your plant some extra shade or water to help supplement it in warmer temperatures. Parsley has no special moisture requirements.
While not entirely necessary for their success, parsley plants can benefit from a little fertilizing once or twice at the beginning of the growing season.
Treat the plants once a month in spring with a well-balanced liquid organic fertilizer diluted in half; be sure to use something suitable for edible plants. Alternatively, you can correct your soil with lots of organic matter and compost to increase nutrition.
Parsley comes in several cultivars, categorized into distinct groups:
- Curly (Common) parsley: This group includes the standard type of parsley, which is easy to grow and attractive in the herb garden. Common varieties of curly parsley induce 'Forest Green' and 'Extra Curled Dwarf', a fast-growing compact type.
- Flat-leaf parsley: This group includes varieties that have flat leaves and which grow relatively tall, up to 36 inches. It tends to be more flavorful than curly parsley; a popular cultivar is 'Titan', which is a compact plant with deep green serrated leaves.
- Italian flat-leaf parsley: These parsley varieties have a slightly peppery taste. A favorite cultivar is 'Giant of Italy,' with especially large leaves. Like other flat-leaved parsley varieties, it is a good addition to a butterfly garden.
- Japanese parsley: These are native to Japan and China, and are evergreen herbs with a bitter flavor. They have strong stems that can be eaten like celery.
How to Grow Parsley From Seed
Starting parsley from seed is a slow endeavor; It can take several weeks for seeds to germinate, yet they are not always successful. Strain the seeds before planting by pre-chilling them in the refrigerator and then soaking them overnight in warm water, which can help speed up the process a bit and result in more successful germination. Plants that are grown from seed are usually ready for harvest between 12 and 14 weeks after sowing.
Although it can be difficult to pluck parsley from seed, established seedlings grow quickly. Plant the seedlings indoors about six weeks before the date of the last frost or sit them directly outside once the soil can be worked and the risk of frost has passed.
Rows can be planted 4 to 12 inches apart, just covering the seed with soil. In addition to being a great companion plant for flowers and vegetables, parsley is sometimes recommended as a border plant or standout foliage plant.
While it can be a very attractive addition, keep in mind that it is also popular with some small animals such as rabbits and marmots.
Parsley can also be grown reasonably well in pots, which is a great option for container gardeners or those who want to grow the herb indoors. Remember that parsley has a taproot, which can be quite long, so mature plants will need a large pot to grow successfully.
How to Grow Parsley in Pots
Growing parsley in pots couldn't be much easier; just sow the seeds in a container of ordinary potting soil, place it in a sunny spot and keep it moist at all times.
Parsley is a good winter indoor herb where it grows in any sunny window and can be harvested throughout the winter when planted in late fall. Indoor parsley will need the strongest light you can provide - use grow lights if not enough natural light is available.
You can start picking the parsley when it is about six inches tall and relatively thick. All cultivation originates at the base of the plant to promote further growth. Trim the plant stems as needed, but try not to remove more than a third of the leaves at a time.
You can cut and dry the remaining leaves at the end of the season, or leave the plants in the ground and try to make more use of them the following spring.
Although parsley is technically biennial, most people find the leaves very bitter in the second year and the flower stalks will grow and seed surprisingly quickly. However, they can hold onto it until their new crop is ripe enough to be harvested.
Common Pests and Diseases
Parsley can be prone to a handful of fungal diseases, including septoria leaf spots, some leaf spots, powdery mildew, and moisture. Starting with good quality, disease-free seeds and allowing plants to have good air circulation can help limit the occurrence and spread of disease.
The biggest pest problem of parsley is the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly. It is a host plant for these butterflies and the caterpillar's hatch and chews on the leaves, causing considerable damage.
However, as these butterflies are welcome in the garden, it is recommended that you do nothing to kill the caterpillars. They will soon mature and leave your plants alone.
Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Herbs
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