Parsley has a reputation among some gardeners for being particularly difficult to grow, but it’s doable if you know what steps to take. Once it becomes established in your garden or a container indoors, parsley is very easy to maintain. There are two main kinds of parsley, flat-leaf and curly-leaf, but the same rules apply to both.
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How to grow parsley
Soak parsley seeds to shorten germination time. The seeds don’t need to be soaked to germinate, but they germinate in less time if you soak them for between 12 and 24 hours.
Start parsley from seed outdoors or indoors. Parsley is hardy to temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can handle low temperatures outdoors, but you might get faster germination indoors. Sow seeds outdoors up to six weeks before the last frost.
If you are starting them indoors, a seed tray will make the job easier. Use a seed starting mix in the seed trays. Bury the tiny parsley seeds about 1/4 of an inch below the surface, whether indoors or outdoors. Mist with a water bottle or the mist setting on a garden hose nozzle if you are outside.
Keep the soil moist, but not too wet, as you wait for the parsley seeds to germinate. Note that germination time will vary from seed to seed. Parsley has a long germination time. It needs at least two weeks, but you may have to wait as long as a month before you see any seedlings.
Fertilize parsley seedlings once they come up. Start with a diluted liquid fertilizer and slowly increase the concentration as the plant grows.
Harden off your parsley seedlings before moving them outside permanently. Hardening off helps your seedlings deal with the shock of moving outdoors. Take them outside for a few hours each day and lengthen the time they spend in the open air over a few weeks. Eventually, they should be able to survive in full sun.
Transplant parsley seeds anywhere between two and four weeks before the last frost if you started them indoors. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, parsley does best at a temperature of about 70 degrees, though it can survive in far colder weather.
The herb will benefit from mulching as it discourages weeds while helping to retain water in the soil. Parsley can thrive in both moderately wet and dry conditions but needs soil that drains well. Plant the seedlings at least 10 inches apart. If you started your parsley outdoors, this is when you should thin out the seedlings to create the same 10-inch distance between plants. Parsley doesn’t need a lot of room to grow, but the more room it has, the bushier it gets.
Use a container that is at least 10 inches deep and twelve inches across for your parsley. The herb has a long taproot, so your pot needs to be pretty deep to accommodate it.
How much sunlight does parsley need?
Plant outdoor parsley in a location with full sun or partial shade.
How much water does parsley need?
Water parsley regularly. Parsley needs soil that is moist but never soggy. The herb is prone to root rot, so it cannot handle excessively wet soil.
Harvest parsley whenever you see the first dozen or so true leaves. Parsley takes about two months to mature, but you can start taking leaves long before that. The first leaves that you see after germination are called the seed leaves, the leaves that come after that are the true leaves. Cut the stalks at the base.