The parsley plant is an easy-to-grow herb that’s popular around the world not only for its delicious flavor but also for its health benefits. From planting to harvesting and using your parsley plants, here’s everything you need to know about growing parsley.
When was the last time you went to a restaurant and your food came with a sprig of fresh green garnish on it? This common practice not only looks upscale and attractive, but it takes advantage of another quality of parsley: the ability to freshen breath.
In addition to being a tasty herb used and loved around the world, parsley is an herb of many talents including a rich history of providing health benefits.
Parsley Plant: A Brief History
Parsley is a hardy biennial herb in the Apiaceae family. The same family is home to many well-known plant cousins, including:
Native to the Mediterranean region, parsley has been cultivated for at least 2,000 years. The Greeks believed it to be sacred and used it to decorate tombs but wouldn’t allow it near their meals. The Romans used it as a garnish as well as a hangover cure, adorning their tables and their necks with parsley. It was the Romans who brought this herb to England, and early settlers brought it to the Americas.
The plant’s name stems from the Greek word ‘petrose’, which means “rock celery” in reference to the plant’s habit of growing on rocky terrain.
This herb is now used in dishes around the world, both as an herb and a garnish for dishes. It’s especially common in European, Middle Eastern, and American recipes!
I’m going over multiple ways to use this herb as well as how to grow it, harvest it, and preserve it.
Benefits Of Parsley
Parsley plants are more than a popular culinary addition. They’re also a nutritional powerhouse. Here are a few non-culinary benefits that parsley plants provide.
- Antimicrobial – can help prevent infections and sepsis
- Fever reducer
- Lower blood pressure
- Relieves flatulence
- Promotes healthy digestion and may relieve constipation
- Helps to remove toxins from the body
Parsley Plant Fun Facts
Here are a few fun facts about parsley plants!
- When cooking with parsley, add it near the end of cooking for the best flavor.
- You can use fresh whole parsley leaves or chop them up.
- The entire plant is edible, but the stems taste more bitter than the leaves.
- The flavor is best before the plant sends up a flower stalk. Once that happens, the leaves become bitter.
- This herb is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, iron, and folate.
- When used in cooking as a seasoning, parsley reduces the need for salt, so it’s beneficial for those with high blood pressure.
Growing Parsley Plants: Everything You Need To Know For Success
Fresh parsley straight from the garden tastes so much better than dried parsley or cut herb from the grocery store.
This herb is technically a biennial plant that will send out seeds in its second year. However, the leaves taste bitter the second year, so treat it as an annual.
Here’s how to grow parsley!
Growing Needs Of Parsley Plants
- Scientific name: Petroselinum crispum
- When to plant: Plant your seeds or transplants outside after the risk of the last frost has passed. It doesn’t love heat, so in zones 7+, plant in the fall to grow over winter.
- Light: Full sun to part shade.
- Soil: Well-draining rich in organic matter.
- Fertilizing: Not usually necessary, but it can benefit from compost and other organic matter.
- Watering: Keep it moist.
- Flowers: Small white or light pink flowers.
- Hardiness Zones: 2-11
Ideal Locations For Growing Parsley
Parsley prefers growing in cooler weather. Try growing parsley:
- As an indoor herb
- In your raised bed garden or in ground garden
- Rock beds or as garden borders
- In your containers
- As a companion plant for roses, carrots, peppers, chives, corn, asparagus, peas, onions, and tomatoes. Do NOT plant it near lettuce!
Keeping Your Parsley Plant Healthy
Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing parsley plants so they stay healthy and happy.
When it comes to pests, the biggest pest for parsley is the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.
Although these caterpillars will munch on the leaves and do a great deal of damage to the plant, they are beneficial insects in the garden. For that reason, I recommend holding off and letting the caterpillars mature and move on. Your parsley plant will recover after that.
When it comes to potential fungal diseases that can affect your parsley plants, keep an eye out for:
- Septoria leaf spot
- Leaf blight
- Powdery mildew
- Botrytis blight (also known as gray mold)
- Damping off
Providing good air circulation to help reduce the risk of fungal disease. If you see evidence of these fungal diseases, remove infected plants and avoid watering the leaves of the plants.
Harvesting Parsley Plant
You can begin to harvest your parsley when your plant is at least 6 inches tall. You can cut off sprigs as needed in your cooking, but the best way to encourage more growth is to cut each stem at the base of the plant. Avoid stressing your plant by not cutting off more than a third of the leaves at one time.
Before the first freeze, cut your parsley plants down to the ground and freeze the leaves.
Storing And Preserving Parsley
In my opinion, parsley (like all herbs!) is best when harvested and used straight from the garden.
You can store fresh parsley wrapped in a cup of water in the fridge for a couple of days.
To freeze your parsley plant, all you have to do is put your fresh leaves into a freezer-safe bag, seal it, and keep the plants flat. It won’t be able to be used as a garnish, but you can easily use it in your recipes.
You can also dry parsley, although it won’t be as flavorful. To dry, bundle stems and tie them with kitchen twine. Hang the bundles upside down until they’re dry. Then, crumble the dried leaves and store them in an air-tight container.
Ways To Use Parsley Plant
Parsley is a frequent garnish and delicious addition to many recipes. Here are some ideas of ways that parsley can be used!
Using parsley in culinary recipes is one of the most common uses for this flavorful herb. Add parsley to:
- Grilled meat
- Herbal butter
- Salad dressings
- And more!
DIY Bath And Beauty Products
Parsley possesses powerful antimicrobial antibacterial properties, making it a great natural cleanser. Combined with its skin-soothing properties, and you have a natural herb that can be added to many exfoliating and soothing DIY body care products such as:
- Facial toner
- Body lotion
- Eye mask
I hope that this post answered any questions you have about growing parsley yourself. If it inspires you to grow and use a parsley plant in new delicious ways, then my job will be complete.