How to Plant and Grow Parsley

With its bright green curly or flat leaves, parsley is a workhorse plant. Use this easy-to-grow herb either fresh or dried and as an edible or an ornamental.

Parsley Plant

Parsley is a biennial which means it grows in one season, and after winter, it blooms, seeds, and dies. It's often grown as an annual and is used in cooking. Different parsley plants have different flavors. Choose from numerous types of parsley. Curly leaf parsleys work well for cooking and add a gorgeous deep green dimension to ornamental flowerbeds. Flat leaf parsleys include Italian types that taste sweet and strong, with a flavor recommended for cooked dishes.

Each plant can grow 1 to 2 feet tall, depending on the variety, and can withstand a light frost.

How to Plant and Grow Parsley

BHG / Zoe Hansen

Where to Plant Parsley

Plant parsley outdoors in loamy soil where it will get plenty of sunlight. Indoors, plant it in a sunny spot where it gets indirect light up to 8 hours a day.

How and When to Plant Parsley

You can buy an established plant from a nursery, but you'll get more plants for less money if you start with seeds.

Sow seeds outdoors in the spring or early fall when temperatures are mild. Plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart and about 1/4 inch deep in soil that drains easily. Choose a location that gets full sun to partial shade. In warmer climates, the plants do better if they get afternoon shade.

Parsley Care Tips

Parsley is easy to grow, demanding little more than sunshine and ample water.


Parsley grows best in sunny spots that get lots of light most of the day. Partial shade will also work for parsley, though they may not be as vibrant in color.

Soil and Water

Parsley seeds don't sprout all at once. Keep a neutral soil moist but not waterlogged to encourage more germination. Once a plant reaches full size, parsley needs 1 to 2 inches of rain or supplemental water per week to grow well. Water is the crucial element for keeping parsley happy.

If you let the soil go too dry, the plant withers and dies. But don't go overboard with the water, or the roots will rot. The soil should be rich in organic matter and well-draining.

Temperature and Humidity

Parsley is hardy in most Zones, so it withstands many different temperatures. However, it does best in a moderate climate of 50ºF to 70ºF. To protect parsley in colder climates, add mulch to outdoor plants.


Use a 5-10-5 commercial fertilizer to feed parsley planted outdoors in the ground one or two times each season. Fertilize indoor parsley plants in containers every six weeks. Use a liquid vegetable fertilizer at half-strength.


When parsley plants develop several sets of leaves, thin them (pull or snip out the extras with scissors) so they stand 3 to 4 inches apart. Parsley is a biennial plant, not a perennial, meaning it grows the first year, then sends up a tough stalk with flowers that turn into seeds and die. So for a bountiful harvest, sow parsley seeds each year.

Once parsley reaches at least 6 inches tall, you can begin to harvest the leaves. Starting with the outside stems (the ones that grew first), cut the stems close to the ground. As you harvest the stems on the outside of the plant, it will respond with new growth from the center. Avoid shaving off the tops of stems; this stunts new growth.

Potting and Repotting Parsley

Any indoor herb garden benefits from the addition of parsley. Choose a container with drainage holes, add a soil-less potting mix (garden soil is too heavy to use in a pot), and sow seeds 1 to 2 inches apart, about 1/4 inch deep.

Place indoor parsley pots in the brightest light possible. However, these herbs may still grow spindly and weak because window glass decreases the amount of light the plants can receive.

Pests and Problems

Parsley can be susceptible to the ravages of the caterpillar for the black swallowtail butterfly. If you can, leave the caterpillars to mature since their butterflies are so pretty and good for your garden. Once they've become butterflies, they'll stop eating the leaves.

Avoid fungi like leaf spot and powdery mildew by allowing for plenty of air circulation around plants, both indoors and outdoors.

How to Propagate Parsley

It's easier and usually more successful to propagate parsley from seeds than from cuttings, but if you want to try, cut a 6-inch stem from a plant. Use a biodegradable planter to set the cutting in moist, soilless potting mix. After your cutting has spent a few weeks in bright, indirect sun that's kept moist, roots will form and the cutting will be ready for planting (leave the cutting in the biodegradable planter).

Parsley Companion Plants


Parsley will keep away the asparagus beetle, protecting asparagus plants. Zones 4-9


Because parsley repels rose beetles and attracts hoverflies, which munch on rose-eating aphids, they're good companion plants. Zones 3-10

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you dry parsley?

    Both flat and curly-leaf parsley can be dried for later use. The easiest way is to place washed, stemmed leaves on a dish to air dry. Parsley also can be dried in just a few minutes in a warm 100° to 110°F oven, but watch carefully, so the leaves don't burn.

    When parsley leaves are completely dry, place them in a container, cover with an air-tight lid, and store them in a dark, cool location. You also can freeze dried parsley leaves in plastic bags.

    Use dried or frozen parsley leaves within a year for the freshest flavor.

  • Is parsley good for you?

    Parsley has many nutritional components, including a healthy dose of flavonoids, but to get those benefits, you would have to consume a lot more than the average amount of parsley most people eat with a meal.

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