How to Plant and Grow Parsley

Use this easy-to-grow herb either fresh or dried and as an edible or an ornamental.

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. 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. Use this guide to grow and care for parsley in your garden.

Parsley Overview

Genus Name Petroselinum
Common Name Parsley
Plant Type Annual, Herb
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 8 to 24 inches
Flower Color White
Season Features Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers
Propagation Seed

Where to Plant Parsley

Call on parsley to anchor a kitchen herb collection. When grown within steps of your door, fresh herbs will quickly make their way into your summer dishes. Plant parsley in the ground or in pots placed on a patio or deck where they receive at least eight hours of sunlight a day. Then simply step outside and harvest what you need—adding it to your cuisine seconds later.

Indoors, plant it in a sunny spot where it gets indirect light up to 8 hours a day.

How to Plant and Grow Parsley

BHG / Zoe Hansen

How and When to Plant Parsley

Start parsley from seed or purchase nursery-grown transplants. Sow seeds outdoors in the spring or early fall when temperatures are mild. Parsley seed is slow to germinate. So unless you are seeking a specific variety only available through seed, consider starting parsley from nursery-grown transplants.

If you grow parsley from seed, soften the seed coat by soaking the seeds in water overnight prior to planting. Sow seeds outdoors 1 to 2 inches apart in well-worked, fertile soil. Cover the seeds with ¼ inch fine soil. Water the seedbed and keep it moist while seeds sprout. Thin seedlings to 3 to 4 inches apart when they are 2 inches tall.

parsley plant in herb garden

Robert Cardillo

Parsley Care Tips

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


Parsley grows best in full sun 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. In warmer climates, the plants do better if they get afternoon shade.

Soil and Water

Parsley seeds don't sprout all at once. Keep 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.

Parsley isn't too picky about soil, but for best growth, add plenty of organic matter such as compost before planting, and make sure your soil drains well.

Temperature and Humidity

Parsley is hardy in most areas, 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.

You can also opt to bring outdoor parsley plants inside in fall to enjoy fresh snips throughout winter. Dig parsley plants in fall and pot them in a container with drainage holes. Be sure to use a prepared potting soil as garden soil will not drain well in a pot. Place the container in a bright, sunny window and water regularly. After growing inside through winter, parsley doesn't usually transplant back into the garden well. Discard the plant and start with new plants in the spring garden.

Pests and Problems

Parsley is a host plant for the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly. If you can, leave the caterpillars to mature since their butterflies are so pretty and serve as pollinators. Once they've become butterflies, they'll stop eating the leaves.

Avoid common diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew by allowing for plenty of air circulation around plants, both indoors and outdoors.

Types of Parsley

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley

Petroselinum neapolitanum Italian flat-leaf parsley
Dean Schoeppner

Petroselinum neapolitanum is great for seasoning hot dishes, since its flavor holds up well under heat.

'Moss Curled' Parsley

Parsley Petroselinum 'Moss Curled' parsley
Marty Baldwin

This variety of Petroselinum crispum unfurls leaves with a clean, crisp flavor that doesn't hold up well in cooking.

Parsley Companion Plants


close up of asparagus growing

Marty Baldwin

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


pink roses and rose buds growing from rose bush

Matthew Benson

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

Garden Plans for Parsley

Classic Herb Garden Plan

classic herb garden plan
Illustration by Gary Palmer

This classic herb garden idea features several easy-to-grow aromatic plants that are pleasing to the eyes and nose alike.

Colorful Herb Garden Plan

Colorful Herb Garden Plan
Gary Palmer

This colorful herb garden plan mixes foliage of different colors and textures to create a stunning and fragrant display. 

French-Inspired Kitchen Garden Plan

French Inspired Kitchen Garden plan

This vegetable garden plan features a central diamond-shape bed with four larger raised beds around it and wide brick pathways running between them. The raised beds are filled with a variety of vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs such as parsley as a nod to the efficient yet beautiful kitchen gardens of Medieval monasteries. 

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 100-110°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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