My parents would always grow parsley (Petroselinum crispum) in the garden. I grew up with parsley being the one herb my parents always had at hand.
Parsley and tomatoes were more or less year-round staples. Tomatoes, as the main ingredient in salads, and parsley as a mildly bitter and fresh-tasting garnish on pasta and fish dishes.
So it was an easy decision when parsley became one of the first herbs I started growing.
However, little did I know about the patience needed to grow this versatile herb.
Two things about growing parsley from seeds you should know:
- Be patient – parsley can take as long as 4-6 weeks to germinate.
- Parsley seeds suffer from a low germination rate. Soak seeds for 24 hours in room temperature water before planting them to boost their chances of germination.
While you can grow parsley directly in your vegetable or herb garden, it is preferable to grow it in pots or containers.
Here we will look at both ways to grow parsley from seeds.
- Planting parsley seeds outdoors where they will grow
- Planting parsley seeds in pots indoors
- Transplanting seedlings grown from seeds indoors
- Where to plant parsley outdoors.
- Harvesting and preserving parsley
- Frequently asked questions
Planting parsley seeds outdoors where they will grow
Parsley seeds need to be planted very close to the surface, with just a thin layer of soil covering the seeds.
Plant seeds outdoors between April to June or earlier.
You can sow parsley outdoors pretty much year-round. But when you plant the seeds late in the year, the cold ground will further delay germination.
When planting in the fall, you will see fresh, new plants in early spring the following year.
Always soak your parsley seeds for 24 hours in room temperature water before planting.
Planting parsley seeds outdoors
- Draw a line in the soil approximately 0.5 centimeters (0.2 inches) deep and water generously.
- Wait for the water to be absorbed. Now plant the soaked seeds in groups of four or five, with a distance of 15 centimeters (6 inches) between each group of seeds.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Now water (spray) again, this time more carefully, so you do not displace the seeds.
And that is all you need to do.
Now you need to wait and be patient.
The parsley seeds are slow to germinate, and you may have to wait 4-6 weeks before seeing signs of life.
Planting parsley seeds in pots indoors
I prefer to grow all my parsley in pots and containers – for growing parsley both indoors and outdoors.
Parsley can be grown from seed indoors year-round, but you must use a plant or grow light during the darkest times of the year.
One of the reasons I grow parsley in pots is that I bring the pots with parsley indoors in the fall. I can often keep the plants going and harvest for quite a while.
Parsley plants will not grow as strong indoors as they do outdoors in your vegetable garden.
You should, however, be able to get 2-3 good harvests from a plant before it loses its force and vigor.
Planting parsley indoors is easy. And as always, soak the parsley seeds for 24 hours in room temperature water before planting.
1. Choose your pot and potting soil
Use plastic or ceramic pots or containers to help maintain and control moisture.
To help the parsley plants develop, use a pot at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) deep.
Choose a half-and-half mix of compost-rich potting soil and leaner cactus potting soil.
Place the richer soil in the bottom half of the pot and the leaner potting soil on top.
This mix will allow the seeds to germinate in the leaner soil. And as the roots develop, the seedlings will have access to richer soil in the bottom part of the pot.
It may seem counterintuitive, but planting your seeds in over-fertilized soil will risk burning the new roots as they form.
2. Water and plant the seeds
Water the soil generously and then wait for the soil mixture to absorb the water.
Then scatter the soaked parsley seeds generously on the pot’s surface.
Press the seeds gently with your fingers to create contact between the seeds and the soil.
Next, cover the seeds with a thin layer of the leaner cactus potting soil.
3. Light, water, and patience
Now, wait for the seeds to germinate. It may take 4-6 weeks or even more for the first leaves or cotyledons to appear.
All you have to do is provide water and a sunny or light place for the seedling and plant to grow and develop.
And there you have it.
Depending on the time of year, the seedlings can be nurtured into full plants in pots indoors/outdoors or transplanted into your vegetable or herb garden.
Transplanting seedlings grown from seeds indoors
When you transplant seedlings, prepare the ground the same way you sow seeds.
Use well-drained soil and water the soil thoroughly before transplanting.
Plant the seedling about 15 centimeters (6 inches) apart. If we plant in rows, we leave approximately 40 centimeters (16 inches)between rows.
Because you plant seeds in groups of 4-5, you will often have more than one seedling per pot.
Do not, however, separate individual seedlings. Transplant the whole pot with seedlings and soil and let the seedling fight it out in the garden.
Where to plant parsley outdoors.
Parsley prefers a sunny position but will tolerate part shade.
When established, the parsley plant is quite sturdy and just needs water to develop.
Make sure you water regularly to avoid dry outs. And do water generously when you water.
Did you know that parsley is a great companion plant for chives, carrots, chili, sweet peppers, peas, and tomatoes?
Harvesting and preserving parsley
Parsley can be harvested year-round. But do not cut the parsley plant with herb scissors.
Instead, harvest your parsley plant one stalk at a time, much like you would pick flowers. When you harvest by the stalk, the plant will regrow to full size after two to three weeks.
Parsley is an excellent herb to freeze. Freezing will retain colors, tastes, and smells.
I do not recommend drying parsley. Dried parsley loses its flavor and vibrant color.