how to grow parsley from seed for beginners

How to grow parsley from seed for beginners.

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 how to grow parsley


curly leaf parsleyParsley or Petroselinum Crispum is a very versatile herb. Many dishes can be flavored with garden parsley just like salt can flavor a meal. Besides the great taste of the herb, parsley is also used as a garnish on many dishes.
Parsley is a biennial plant where it can survive the winter. It’s grown as an annual where the winters are really cold.
In the beginning of the introduction, I am talking about Petroselinum Crispum because this is the Latin name of the species. There are several varieties of parsley. The biggest difference is the form of the leaves. You can find flat leaf parsley or Italian parsley which has more flavor than the curly leaf parsley which is used more as a garnish for the dishes.  They are both members of the same family and if you continue to read this article,  how to grow parsley, you’ll be able to grow them both.
Did you know that parsley is used to freshen your breath after a tasty meal? Parsley also has a couple of medicinal uses which I may discuss in later posts.

Where to grow parsley?

flat leaf parsleyParsley can be grown both in pots and in the soil. It’s also possible to grow parsley indoors or outdoors whatever you decide.

If you want to grow your parsley in the soil, make sure it has a decent spot in the sun or if you live in a warm climate, partial sun. The soil should be loose, sponge-like and full of nutrients. Using aged manure or compost will help the plant be happy and healthy. Make sure the plant stands in the well-draining soil as root rot can be a problem in a really wet soil.

Planting or sowing parsley in a pot is really easy. Just use some good, fertile and well-draining potting soil and you’re good to go. Fertilize each month with an organic fertilizer.

The pot you use should be about 6 to 8 inches or 16 to 20 centimeters in diameter and depth for the plants to have enough room for root growth. If you want to keep the parsley alive in winter to let it come to flowers in the next year it’s better to take a slightly bigger pot. As I already explained in the introduction, parsley is a biennial, this means, it grows leaves in the first year and it’ll flower in the second year.

Make sure, if you grow parsley in a container, not to let the soil fully dry out because this will cause the plant to wilt and die.

When to grow parsley?

flat leaf parsley in containerIf you grow your parsley indoors, you can start sowing it whenever you want. It’s really easy to keep parsley alive in normal living room temperatures.

Parsley that is sown directly in place, outside will have to be sown about 3 to 4 weeks prior to the last frost date. But remember, parsley seeds can take a really long time to germinate.

When starting seedlings indoors to plant outside, just keep the plants inside until the last frost date has passed. I usually start sowing a couple of months before the last frost date. Sometimes I just start the seeds in autumn so I can already enjoy the first leaves in the winter time.

parsley flower in the sunWhat I’ll explain now, isn’t about sowing the parsley. It’s about harvesting the seeds of parsley. Parsley is a biennial, this means that the plant flowers in the second year. You have to wait until the second year before you can harvest the seeds of the plants.

In the second year, the taste of the leaves will not be the same and not as fragrant as in the first year. It’s better to keep the plant only for harvesting the seeds.

Once the flowers turn dry and brown, you can cut off the flower stalks and hang them upside in a paper bag. If you shake them a couple of times over a week, most of the seeds will have fallen in the paper bag.

transplanting or planting parsley

flat leaf parsley in containerTransplanting seedlings or transplanting shop-bought plants, is quite easy.

Make a hole in the spot where you want to plant your parsley and remove the parsley from the pot. Make sure the hole in your spot has the same diameter of the pot so you can just put the plant in the soil without disturbing the roots.

Don’t plant the parsley any deeper than it was standing in the pot. Press lightly so the soil around the roots connects with the outside soil. Make sure there’s no light shining on the roots. If the roots catch the light, they will die off.

Some people say, it’s possible to start parsley from cuttings but I personally haven’t done that yet. For the sake of this post, I will try it out and update the post when I have finished the experiment.

harvesting parsley

harvested parsleyWhen the plants grow about 6 inches or 15 centimeters high, you can start harvesting the parsley.  Start harvesting the outside of the plants as the inside always grow new shoots. If you how to harvest parsley from the outside, you can continually harvest through the season.

When harvesting the outer leaves, you can cut them at about half an inch or about 1-centimeter hight from the ground.

diseases of parsley and pests 

crown and root rot

crown and root rot is a common disease where the soil stays too wet for a longer period of time. The leaves of the plant will start to yellow and then turn brown. The stems will slowly die off and there will be no new shoots coming from the plant.

Crown and root rot are caused by Phytophthora Primulae, a soil-borne fungus.

When roots are cut open, you can see the roots have turned brown on the inside.

There’s not really an organic solution for this problem. It can only be avoided by not letting the soil get too soggy. In heavy clay soil, it’s best to make raised beds. This makes sure water can drain through to the lower layers of the soil.


Blight is caused by a fungus named Botrytis. People also use the common name, gray mold. First symptoms are the brown to black spots on the leaves. If not treated, all the leaves will get covered with a white to gray fuzzy mold on the leaves.  This disease will eventually kill off the plants.

Southern Ag Garden Friendly Biological Fungicide is said to be helpful against blight although I personally never have used it.

.leaf spot disease

The Septoria fungus can cause the leaf spot disease.  When you see dark spots on the leaves with a yellow, golden halo around, then the fungus is attacking your plant. The plant will die off if not treated because the disease weakens the whole plant.

The disease can be seed-borne or soil-borne with the splashing of the rain.

The treatment has to be started early and as soon as the disease has been spotted, with a copper-containing fungicide like liquid copper.

Downy mildew

Downy mildew, caused by Plasmopara petroselini can be seen after really moist days. The tops of the leaves turn white and after a while, a white-gray fuzzy fungal growth can be seen underneath the leaves. A copper spray like liquid copper can stop this disease although you have to take some measures not to get it back after a while.

Make sure there’s enough air flowing through the plants, so get rid of any weeds growing in between the plants.

Only water in the morning and let the soil dry out through the day.

Choose resistant varieties whenever possible as this can make a big difference when living in a moist climate.


Cutworm – The cutworm tends to cut off – hence its name – young shoots and seedlings. It’s very much possible that you’ll never see the cutworm but it’ll cut the stem from underneath the soil, while he’s eating the roots of the plant.

BT or Bacillus thuringiensis can be used to kill off cutworms although it can be difficult to use if you don’t want to kill off any butterflies around the plants.

Parsley worm

Parsley worm, not everyone will get in trouble with this voracious but beautiful creature and some won’t even try to kill it because it becomes a beautiful black winged swallowtail butterfly. If you don’t want them to kill of your parsley, you can put them in another patch with plants of the same family like carrots and dill. BT is once again the solution if you really want to get rid of it.

Carrot root fly

The carrot root fly can be a real pest and is difficult to see.  By the time you want to treat it, it’s almost too late for the plants. What is carrot root fly? The Psila rosae, that’s the Latin name, will lay its eggs near the roots of the plants and the maggots will start feeding on the roots of the plants. Parsley is a family member of carrots and is also vulnerable to this little fly.

If you have the possibility to put up a barrier of 60 centimeters or 24 inches, you can stop the carrot fly from getting to your plants because the fly flies really low over the ground. This method is used a lot in big farming places. They call these nets, carrot root fly netting.

There is a solution to get rid of the carrot fly, which consists of nematodes but I don’t think you can get it for a hobby garden.


Aphids are a pest where ever you get them and they will also populate your parsley plants.

You can get rid of aphids with a water hose. Use the water pressure to give a blast and blow off the little buggers.

A couple of tablespoons of dish soap mixed with a bucket of lukewarm water can do the trick as well. Just spray the mixture on the plants covering top and bottom of the leaves to dry out the aphids.  This works because dish soap will dissolve the waxy coat the aphids have around their body, making them dry out after a while.


The list of diseases and pests isn’t complete but these are the most common ones around. If I come into personal contact with some kind of disease or pest I will amend this post and hopefully get some pictures.

So this is it for this blog post, I hope you find it interesting. If so, please share with friends and other gardeners.

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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.


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