How to trim parsley

I can’t imagine life without parsley simply because I can’t live without Tabbouleh. Parsley is such a lovely and unique herb, and its presence in the kitchen is almost always necessary.

Parsley can be easily grown by anyone since it’s very flexible with light and water. This plant has been cultivated by gardeners from all regions around the globe and is considered one of the most popular herbs worldwide.

Nonetheless, people who grow parsley usually get confused about pruning it, and it’s not just confusing with parsley but also with all other herbs.

If you’re growing parsley and it’s growing fast but you don’t when or how to cut it back, don’t worry. I will be answering all of your questions below!

When to Prune Parsley?

Parsley is a biennial plant (lives for two years) that is treated as if it were an annual. This aspect of the herb’s growth tells us a lot about the best time to cut it back.

Annual plants are usually cut back as they’re harvested, which means you can just focus on harvesting your parsley on time, and that will automatically keep the plant in shape.

Parsley is one of the fastest-growing herbs, so you will be trimming it many times per season. Each time you prune its stems it will grow back to full size after two to three weeks.

Some gardeners agree that the best time to trim your parsley is when it’s about 6 inches tall. In their reasoning, this is when you get the most parsley that has the best flavor.

On the other hand, some experts say that you should cut back a parsley stem only when it has developed an adequate number of leaves. This means you can only trim stems that have developed three or more segments of leaves.

You can trim your parsley according to either of the above two rules. I usually follow both, so I inspect the length of each parsley stem and also the number of leaves on it to decide whether or not to cut it.

If you are late to harvest your parsley, just keep in mind that you need to take off at least the yellow and the overly grown stems to keep the plant growing well.

In case you’re growing parsley under unregulated conditions, remember that you should prune it before the first expected frost or else you might lose the whole yield and the plant won’t be able to reemerge in its second season.

How to Prune Parsley?

Pruning parsley is easy. The resiliency of this plant makes it possible to cut it back in the most severe way possible.

If you only pinch off the top leaves of a parsley stem, it will dry after a few days. This is why it’s always better to prune the plant heavily.

One important point to focus on before you proceed with pruning your plant is that the younger growth of parsley comes from the center, where it’s usually shaded by longer stems.

To encourage the plant to quickly grow back, we need to trim the long stems that are preventing light from reaching the younger ones.

We also need to cut back any overlapping stems that are causing the plant to become overcrowded. Branches that become overcrowded can create a hot, humid environment that would allow fungal pathogens to spread all over the plant.

To prune your parsley, start by searching for the longest stems that are growing at the outer edges of the plant.

Trim the grown stems by producing a cut at the base of each one. Keep about one inch of the bottom of each stem untouched so that new growth will be able to emerge.

Focus your attention on removing stems that have grown longer than 8 inches, have a wide stem and a yellow color, and that are blocking sunlight from reaching other parts of the plant.

Don’t forget to take an adequate amount of the soft, green, and flavorful growth to use in the kitchen. Parsley leaves and stems can become stiff and bland as they grow older, so don’t be reluctant to remove stalks that have grown well.

Never cut back all the stems of your parsley plant at the same time because that would stunt its development and prevent it from growing back again.

Extra Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Fertilize the Soil:

Pruning may not be tiring for you, but it is an exhausting process for parsley. When you cut back the plant to the ground, it loses all the food it has been storing in its foliage.

To compensate for this loss, you need to make sure the soil is being regularly enriched with nutrients. Adding compost or any other type of high-nitrogen organic fertilizer after pruning helps the plant during this stage.

Be sure to avoid synthetic fertilizers that may pollute the environment and change the makeup of the soil for the long term.

  • Use Sharp Pruning Scissors

I always emphasize this point because it’s often overlooked by gardeners. It’s very important to use sharp, high-quality shears to prune your parsley.

Cutting your parsley with poor scissors or your bare hands can create unwanted tears in the plant. This makes the herb more susceptible to pests that drain the nutritious sap of the parsley and to diseases that would then find it easier to infect the foliage, stem, and roots.

Purchase premium quality gardening scissors so that you don’t lose your parsley in the middle of its growing season.

  • Inspect and Wash Your Harvested Parsley

Parsley is a plant that grows very near to the ground. This means its bottom stems and leaves always touch the soil.

Aside from the fact that the plant would be covered with soil particles, some insects can also be living on the bottom part of it.

Make sure to check your parsley stems after harvesting. If you find any insects on them, shake gently. Afterward, wash your parsley with clean water.

Don’t wash your parsley in case you’re drying the plant. This might invite mold to spread all over the stems and leaves. In this case, be sure to spray your parsley with water the day before you harvest it.

  • Pinch Off the Flowering Buds in Your Parsley’s Second Growing Season

Parsley grows for two seasons. In its first season, it doesn’t produce seeds, so you don’t have to worry about stopping it from flowering.

By the way, it’s necessary to prevent your leafy herbs from flowering because otherwise they will shed their seeds and die. Blooming also makes the herb stiffer and less flavorful.

If you let parsley grow to its second season, it will start producing flowering buds. In such a situation, all you need to do is pinch off these flowers and cut back the plant to the ground.

That’s all you need to know about pruning parsley! Enjoy growing the plant, and don’t forget to share your questions and thoughts in the comments below.

Best Parsley Varieties – Common Types Of Parsley In The Garden

Parsley is a mild-flavored herb, and parsley leaves are often used to create attractive garnishes for a variety of dishes. Rich in vitamins and minerals, the ruffled green herb is a flavorful addition to soups and other culinary delights. Although good old curly parsley is the most familiar, you might be surprised that there are many different kinds of parsley. Read on to learn about various types of parsley.

Types and Varieties of Parsley

Many people think some parsley types are best for garnish and others are best suited for cooking. Try them all, and you can make your own decision about the best parsley varieties!

Curly (Common) Parsley – This standard type of parsley, versatile and easy to grow, is both decorative and edible. Curly parsley varieties include Forest Green parsley and Extra Curled Dwarf parsley, a fast-growing, compact variety.

Flat-Leaf Parsley – Flat-leaf parsley is tall, reaching mature heights of 24 to 36 inches. It is appreciated for its culinary qualities, and is more flavorful than curly parsley. Flat-leaf parsley includes Titan, a compact variety that displays small, deep green, serrated leaves; Italian Flat Leaf, which tastes slightly peppery and looks a bit like cilantro; and Giant of Italy, a big, distinctive plant that tolerates a variety of difficult growing conditions. Flat-leaf parsley types are excellent additions to a butterfly garden.

Japanese Parsley – Native to Japan and China, Japanese parsley is an evergreen perennial herb with a somewhat bitter flavor. The sturdy stems are often eaten like celery.

Hamburg Parsley – This large parsley has thick, parsnip-like roots that add texture and flavor to soups and stews. Hamburg parsley leaves are ornamental and look a bit like ferns.

Now that you know about the most common varieties of parsley, you can try them all and see which one(s) you prefer in your kitchen or herb garden.


Parsley is a bright green, versatile herb that looks good growing and tastes good too. Parsley contains vitamins A, C, and K as well as several B vitamins, calcium, and iron. It is often used as a garnish and eaten at the end of a meal to freshen your breath.

You don’t need much space to grow parsley, it even grows well in containers. One idea would be to grow it in a container with other herbs. And here’s a fun fact you may not know about this herb — it’s a host plant for caterpillars of the black swallowtail butterfly. So even if you don’t use it in the kitchen, the caterpillars will appreciate your outdoors parsley plant.


There are three common varieties of parsley: flat leaf, curly leaf, and parsley root. Flat leaf or Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum) has leaves like celery or cilantro and is said to have the strongest flavor. Curly leaf parsley (P. crispum crispum) has very finely divided decorative leaves that make for an attractive garnish. Root parsley or ‘Hamburg’ parsley (P. crispum tuberosum) has white roots that look like young parsnips and are used similarly in cooking.

Parsley is officially a biennial, although it typically grows in Florida as a cool-season annual. Planted in the fall, parsley will thrive during winter and then flower, produce seeds, and die in late spring. You may be successful in prolonging the life of your parsley by growing it in light shade. It will bolt and flower eventually, but the good news is that bees and other pollinators love the blooms.

Planting and Care

Here in Florida, the time to plant parsley is during the cooler months of fall and winter. Parsley does best with a little afternoon shade to protect it from the intense sunlight. Potted plants are readily available or you can choose to grow it from seed. The seeds can be tricky, taking 7 to 12 days to germinate. Soaking them in water overnight before planting can improve your success. Sow the seeds shallowly and thin seedlings to 6 inches apart. Keep the soil moist for best results and be sure to carefully weed.

Most gardeners will find that only a few parsley plants are needed to fulfil their culinary wants. You can remove a few leaves at a time for continuous harvesting or harvest a whole bunch at once. Parsley leaves are most commonly used fresh, but if dried rapidly, their flavor and color can be preserved.

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Eastern Black Swallowtail: Papilio polyxenes asterius (Stoll)
  • Herbs in the Florida Garden
  • Parsley, Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nym.

Parsley Seedlings Stock Photos and Images

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parsleyOverview of parsley.Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, MainzSee all videos for this article

Parsley, (Petroselinum crispum), hardy biennial herb of the family Apiaceae, or Umbelliferae, native to Mediterranean lands. Parsley leaves were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a flavouring and garnish for foods. The compound leaves—deep green, tender, and curled or deeply frilled—that develop in a cluster the first season of growth are used fresh or dried, the mildly aromatic flavour being popular in fish, meats, soups, sauces, and salads. Parsley is often the principal ingredient of bouquet garni and fines herbes.

parsleyParsley (Petroselinum crispum).ilbusca/

In the second season of growth, seed stalks rise about 1 metre (3.3 feet) tall and are topped by compound umbels of small, greenish yellow flowers followed by tiny fruits, or seeds, similar to those of a carrot but without spines. Parsley seedlings are small and weak; they emerge with difficulty from heavy crusty soils.

parsleyParsley (Petroselinum crispum).© tycoon751/

Parsley contains less than 0.5 percent essential oil, the principal component of which is a pungent, oily, green liquid called apiol.

Hamburg parsley, or turnip-rooted parsley (Petroselinum crispum, variety tuberosum), is grown for its large white parsniplike root, which is popular in Europe.

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Parsley Plant Is Droopy: Fixing Leggy Parsley Plants

If you plant an herb garden, by all means use it! Herbs are meant to be cut; otherwise, they get gangly or woody. Parsley is no exception and if you don’t prune it, you end up with leggy parsley plants. So what can you do about overgrown or leggy parsley plants?

Droopy, Leggy, Overgrown Parsley

If you have a drooping parsley plant or parsley plants falling over every which way, it may be too late, especially if the plant has blossomed and gone to seed. Don’t despair. Parsley grows rapidly from seed or you can get some inexpensive starts from the local nursery. Moving forward, however, you will want to learn how to trim parsley (and use it!) to avoid drooping and falling over parsley plants.

Of course, if your parsley plant is droopy, you might just need to give it some water. If it doesn’t appear to be leggy and the temps have been high, some extra irrigation just might remedy the situation. If you ascertain that the parsley plant is droopy due to extreme temps and dry soil, trim the plant back and water it generously.

Trimming parsley increases the yield of the plant. If it is not occasionally thinned, it loses vigor. Cutting it back will also prevent it from taking over and choking out other plants or herbs.

Also, parsley flowers should be routinely cut back or pinched. If allowed to go to seed, you’ll have more parsley than you know what to do with. When you remove the blossoms, the energy the plant was using towards seed production is redirected towards foliage production, which makes the plant grow more vigorously.

Pruning also helps prevent some diseases, such as powdery mildew, by opening up the plant and increasing air flow.

How to Trim Parsley

If the parsley has any flowers, pinch them back (deadhead) or remove them with scissors. First, check and see of your parsley plants have grown any blooms. If these blooms have begun to fade, it’s important that you deadhead them. To deadhead means to remove the dying flowers before they form seeds. You may have also heard of this process described as pinching back the flowers. By “deadheading” or “pinching back” the dying flower blooms, you prevent the plant from over seeding all over your herb garden. This will keep your parsley vigorous and assist in preventing the plant from taking over. Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut off the flower stalk at the root.

Next, remove any yellowed, spotted or shriveled leaves as well as those that are munched on by insects. Then give the parsley a 1/3 inch trim. Cut or pinch off 1/3 inch off the tops of the plant which will control the growth of the parsley. You can do this any time the parsley is getting too large.

Harvesting for use in cooking can take place any time after the leaves have become well formed. Cut the outer leaves and stems down to the ground, leaving the inner stems to grow. Don’t be afraid to cut too much. Your parsley will love it.

Once you have pruned the parsley, mulch around the plants with mature compost to aid in water retention. Remember that parsley is a biennial herb. This means that it grows for only two years. At the end of the two years, parsley bolts, or sends up a bunch of flower stalks, goes to seed, and dies. In fact, many people treat parsley as an annual and discard and replant each year.

Parsley Harvesting: Learn How And When To Pick Parsley Herbs

Parsley is probably the most commonly used herb. A member of the carrot family, Apiaceae, it is most commonly seen used as a garnish or as a mild flavoring in a multitude of dishes. As such, it’s a must-have for an herb garden. The question is, when do you pick parsley and exactly where do you cut parsley for harvest?

When to Pick Parsley

Parsley is a biennial but is usually grown as an annual and is native to the Mediterranean. Like most herbs, it thrives in areas with six to eight hours of sun, although it will tolerate light shade. While it is often used as a garnish, parsley has more to give; it is high in vitamin C and A, as well as iron.

Parsley is easy to grow either from nursery starts or from seed. Parsley seeds take a while to germinate so soak them overnight to hasten the germination rate. Then sow them ¼ inch (.5 cm.) deep, spaced 4-6 inches (10-15 cm.) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm.) apart. Keep the plants moist, about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week depending on the weather.

Now that the plants are growing, how do you know when to pick the parsley? It takes between 70-90 days of growth before the plants are ready for parsley harvesting. The plants should have ample foliage. In some regions, seeds can be planted in the fall for early spring parsley harvesting and again in late winter for early summer harvest.

Also, in some areas, parsley overwinters and you might be harvesting fresh parsley again in its second year.

You’re ready to harvest your parsley but where to cut parsley is the question. Don’t be nervous; harvesting fresh parsley is easy. Just as with other herbs, parsley likes to be snipped, which encourages additional growth. Bunch the stems and leaves together and snip them off at ground level with kitchen shears.

You can also just take a sprig or two starting with the outside stalks first. Be sure to cut at ground level though. If you just cut the leafy tops and leave the stems, the plant will be less productive. Either use the fresh herb immediately or place the whole thing in a glass of water and refrigerate until needed.

You can also dry your parsley once it is harvested. Wash it and pat it dry, then allow the parsley to dry completely in a warm, airy place. Once the parsley is dry, remove the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and store the dry parsley in an airtight container.

You can also freeze parsley. Both dried and frozen parsley should be used within the year, and the flavor will be much milder than when you use fresh parsley.

Q: How can I rein in my parsley plant? For some reason this summer it has grown into a giant with a stem like a tree trunk. It’s sprawling all over and looks a mess. Should I cut it back? I’ve used this parsley so much for cooking, I’d like to plant more herbs. Which three or four kinds do you recommend as easy to grow?

A: I’m afraid you’re way past the pinching-back phase. Cut off your parsley’s flowers for a bouquet, pull it out, toss it in the compost and start over. Parsley grows quickly from seed, or, even faster, buy inexpensive little parsley plants from the nursery. You’ll be pleased with how fresh the young leaves taste, and they’ll grow in rapidly. Remember to keep pinching back your new plant to prevent it from growing so large and woody.

Most herbs are easy to grow, so it really depends on which you’d use most for your style of cooking. Rosemary is a handsome, evergreen plant, as useful in the landscape as for spicing up dishes. If I had to pick just a few more kinds, I’d choose chives, cilantro, oregano, basil and mint. Basil needs heat and sun, and it’s best to grow mint in a pot as it can be invasive. Oh, and I also love lemon verbena. Warning: Growing herbs can be addictive.

Q: I have five dianthus (pinks) plants that I planted in my front yard a few years ago. They come up and bloom quite nicely, but about half of them fall over and are droopy. What can I do to make them bushier and stand up straighter?

A: Various types of dianthus are floppier than others, especially the ones with slim, fine-textured foliage and relatively large blossoms. These attributes make them especially attractive but unable to stand up well on their own.

Pinch your dianthus back when they’re quite small to encourage bushiness, and don’t give them much fertilizer, which causes the foliage to grow taller. You might want to rig a low fencelike support to prop them up, or nurseries carry metal or wire supports that nearly disappear visually.

Q: A few years ago I planted a seed packet worth of little blue flowers (I forget the name) that are taking over my garden. They’re short, some are pale blue and some dark blue, and they have lacy foliage. They’re in bloom right now and I don’t know how to get rid of them. Help!

A: Your vigorous self-seeder is probably the old-fashioned cottage-garden love-in-a-mist, or Nigella damascena. If you have to have a flower that loves your garden too much, at least this is a pretty little one. Its star-shaped flowers are followed by fat, striped seed pods beloved by flower arrangers.

It’s true if you scatter a single packet of love-in-a-mist seed, you’ll never need to buy another, because these annuals prolifically seed themselves about. They thrive on neglect, drought and lean soil to flower year after year. The good news is that they’re very easy to pull, so just try to weed them all out before they go to seed this year and you’ll eliminate them in the future. But I bet you’ll miss these little beauties.

Valerie Easton also writes about Plant Life in Sunday’s Pacific Northwest Magazine. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail [email protected]m with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.

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