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How to Grow Massive Bunches of Parsley From Seed Or Starter Plant

Large sunny patch of flat leaf parsley.

Widely cultivated as an herb, spice, and vegetable, parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is so much more than a decorative garnish.

Native to the Mediterranean region, its name is derived from Greek and means “rock celery”. As part of the Apiaceae family, parsley is closely related to carrots, celery, parsnip, and dill, and like these foods, has a distinctively robust flavor.

Parsley tends to add a slight peppery flavor to foods, with an anise-like pungency, while also providing the taste of what can only be described as “freshness” to any dish.

About the Parsley Plant…

A biennial herb that grows about one foot tall and wide, parsley has a clumping habit of numerous stems topped with feathery, tripinnate leaflets.

Often grown as an annual, its first year will provide an abundance of parsley stems and leaves.

During its second season, parsley will flower with an umbel of yellowish-green blooms while putting out less flavorful foliage. Pinching off seed heads will help the leaves retain their sweetness. By allowing a few plants to go to seed, parsley will self sow and provide new plants the following spring. Collecting seeds at this time will also furnish you with plenty of parsley for years to come.

In its third and final year, its pungent and tasty taproot can be harvested and eaten before the plant dies off for good.  

There are three varieties of parsley to choose from:

A table with a cutting board and a bunch of flat leaf parsley on it. There are mushrooms and peppercorns and chopped arugula in wooden bowls.

Flat leaf parsley or Italian parsley is a low maintenance, easy to grow cultivar that is very flavorful and used in a wide variety of culinary dishes.

A large bunch of curly leaf parsley laying on a granite countertop.

Curly leaf parsley or French parsley has a wonderful texture but is considered less flavorful than flat leaf parsley and is often used as a garnish.

Three hamburg parsley roots on a rough wooden table top.

Hamburg root parsley isn’t grown primarily for its leaves like the other varieties – though the foliage is tasty too – it produces an edible white-ish tuber beneath the surface that resembles parsnip.

The Nutritional Value of Parsley

In addition to its flavor profile, parsley is low in calories but dense in nutrients. In fact, it ranked number 8 out of 47 tested vegetables in a 2014 study on nutrient-dense foods.

Per Cup of Parsley, raw   % of DV
Calories 21.6  
Protein 1.8 g 4%
Fiber 2.0 g 8%
Vitamin A 5055 IU 101%
Vitamin C 79.8 mg 133%
Vitamin E 0.4 mg 2%
Vitamin K 984 mcg 1230%
Thiamin 0.1 mg 3%
Niacin 0.1 mg 4%
Riboflavin 0.1 mg 3%
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 3%
Folate 91.2 mcg 23%
Pantothenic Acid 0.2 mg 2%
Calcium 82.8 mg 8%
Iron 3.7 mg 21%
Magnesium 30 mg 7%
Phosphorus 34.8 mg 3%
Potassium 332 mg 9%
Zinc 0.6 mg 4%
Copper 0.1 mg 4%
Manganese 0.1 mg 5%

As you can see, parsley is super rich in vitamins A, C, and K. Parsley is also an excellent source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids and beta carotene.

Close up of deep green flat leaf parsley growing in a garden.

Parsley Growing Conditions:


Parsley is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9 and can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F. Though it will lose its leaves in a prolonged freeze, you can protect plants with a garden cloche or bring them indoors to overwinter.

Light Requirements

Parsley grows equally well in full sun or part sun.


Like most plants, parsley will perform best in loamy, nutrient-rich soil.


Though gardeners should endeavor to keep the soil moist at all times, parsley is fairly drought tolerant. A slightly drooping plant will be immediately perked up when given a good drink.


Simply adding compost to the soil at planting time should provide more than enough nutrients for the plant to thrive all season long.

Companion Plants

Plant parsley near roses, corn, tomatoes, carrots and asparagus.

How to Grow Parsley

From Seed…

Parsley seeds are slow to germinate, taking up to 3 weeks to sprout. Soak seeds overnight in a glass of water to help speed up the process.

Close up of brown parsley seeds.
  • Parsley can be started indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost or sown directly in the garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost.
  • Plant seeds an ½ inch deep and 6 to 8 inches apart.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist. If starting seeds indoors, cover pots with a humidity tent and remove once seedlings emerge.
  • When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into the garden, 6 inches apart with 6 inches between rows.

From Starter Plant…

Parsley seedlings are ready to be planted outdoors once the soil warms to around 70°F.

Tiny parsley seedlings growing from a seed starting tray.
  • Because each parsley plant produces a long, singular taproot as it matures, loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches.
  • Work some compost or manure into the soil.
  • Plant parsley starts 6 inches apart and water thoroughly.

How to Harvest Parsley

Take parsley cuttings often throughout the growing season. To harvest parsley, snip stalks down to ground level, working from the outside towards the center. Leave the central stalks and leaves alone to ensure your parsley plants remain productive.

Close up of a pair of scissors about to snip curly leaf parsley.

Use parsley right away for salads, soups, sauces, marinades, and more. Simply chop up the leaves and stems before adding it to your recipes. You can also prolong parsley’s freshness by placing the leafy stalks in a cup of water and storing it in the fridge for a few days.

To dry parsley, hang bunches of sprigs in a warm, dark, and airy place. When completely dried, crush it up and store it in an airtight container.

Hanging bunches of flat leaf parsley drying against a white wood background.

Parsley can also be frozen to prolong its shelf life. Place chopped parsley in an ice cube tray and top off with water. Place in the freezer until frozen and then bag it up. Thaw out a parsley cube before adding it to your recipe.

Parsley Seed Saving

In its second year, parsley puts most of its energy toward flowering and seed production. While you can pinch off flowers as they emerge, leave a few plants to bolt in order to collect the seeds.

Yellow parsley flowers on a parsley plant that's been left to go to seed.

After parsley flowers, allow the blooms to dry and turn brown before taking them from the plant. Place flower heads in a brown paper bag and gently rub until the seeds fall off.

Sift seeds out of the plant debris with a fine mesh strainer and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot.

The seeds should be viable for up to 3 years.

Common Issues:

During periods of warm, wet weather, parsley may be prone to fungal diseases like crown and root rot, leaf spot, and blight.

You can prevent these by ensuring your plants receive good air circulation through regular pruning, and are situated in a spot with ample sunshine in well-draining soil. Remove any infected foliage to stop the spread.

Although parsley isn’t particularly prone to serious pest infestations, there are a few types of insects to be wary of. Since parsley is closely related to carrots, celery, and parsnips, it can become affected by carrot fly and celery fly.

Close up of a small orange carrot fly.

While these pests can be difficult to control, practicing crop rotation every season and using insect-proof mesh, like Enviromesh – can go a long way toward preventing future invasions.

15 Ways To Use Parsley

If you’ve grown more parsley than you can handle, then here are fifteen brilliant ways to use it all up.

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Lindsay Sheehan

I am a writer, lifelong plant lover, permaculture gardener, and unabashed nature nerd. I’m endlessly fascinated by the natural world and its curious inner workings – from the invisible microbes in soil that help our plants grow, to the hidden (and often misunderstood) life of insects, to the astonishing interconnectedness that lies at the heart of our forests. And everything in between.

My gardening philosophy is simple – work with the forces of nature to foster balanced ecosystems in the landscape. By taking advantage of 470 million years of evolutionary wisdom, suddenly the garden is more resilient and self-sustaining. By restoring biodiversity, we get built-in nutrient cycling, pest control, climate regulation, and widespread pollination. By building healthy soil and supporting the food web, we can have lush gardens and do a small part in healing our local biomes, too.

On my own humble patch of earth in zone 5b, I’m slowly reclaiming the land and planting it densely with native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. I also tend a food forest, herb garden, and an ever-expanding plot of fruits and vegetables, where I abide by the old adage, ‘One for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, and one to grow’.