Parsley is grown as an annual for its flavoursome leaves that are used as a garnish or chopped into sauces, butters, dressings and stuffings. It is an essential ingredient of many dishes, including salsa verde and tabouleh. Although curly leaved parsley looks great as a garnish and has textured tactile leaves, flat-leaved parsley has a stronger taste and is more useful, and easier to prepare, in the kitchen.

Parsley

Jobs to do now

  • Sow
  • Thin out seedlings

Month by month

Sow

Sow outdoors from early spring to the start of summer in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Sow seeds in shallow, 1cm ½in) deep trenches. Cover the trench and water. When they are large enough to handle, thin seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart with 15cm (6in) between rows.

Alternatively, grow in pots. Sow seeds thinly across a 25cm (10in) pot filled with seed compost, cover with a 1cm (½in) layer of compost and water. Leave in a cool spot to germinate and make sure the compost doesn’t dry out. Germination can take up to six weeks, then when they are large enough to handle, thin out seedlings, leaving about 2cm (¾in) between plants.
 

Grow

Keep plants well watered, especially during hot, dry spells in summer.

Give plants a boost by feeding every few weeks with a balanced liquid fertiliser.

Remove flowerheads to extend the cropping life of the plants.

Prevent plants from becoming unsightly and encourage new growth, by snipping off any lower shoots that start to turn yellow.

Common problems

Parsley is closely related to carrots and celery, and can suffer similar pests and diseases.

Carrot fly
Carrot fly

Carrot fly is a small black-bodied fly whose larvae feed on the roots of carrots. The larvae tunnel into the developing carrots causing them to rot.

Remedy

Once you have an attack of carrot fly, there is nothing you can do to get rid of this pest. Prevention is the best cure, and you should sow thinly and avoid crushing the foliage as you thin out seedlings or hand weed. You can surround your carrots with 60cm (2ft) high barriers made of clear polythene which will exclude the low-flying female flies, or cover the plants with horticultural fleece, such as Enviromesh.

More info on Carrot fly

Celery leaf miner
Celery leaf miner

Small larvae tunnel through the leaves, leaving brown blisters. Severe attacks check growth.

Remedy

Grow under horticultural fleece or mesh. Pinch out affected leaves; do not plant seedlings with affected leaves. Parsnips can also be affected.

More info on Celery leaf miner

Harvesting

Cut single leaves or bunches low down on the stems with scissors and use fresh. Parsley can also be frozen or dried for using during leaner times of the year.

Varieties

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.