Planting parsley in pots

Parsley Container Growing – How To Grow Parsley Indoors

Growing parsley indoors on a sunny windowsill is ornamental as well as practical. Curly types have lacy, frilly foliage that looks great in any setting and flat-leaf varieties are prized for their flavor. Learning how to grow parsley indoors is not at all complicated and neither is indoor parsley care.

Parsley Container Gardening

Parsley herbs (Petroselinum crispum) grow best in a sunny, preferably south-facing window where they will receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. If your window doesn’t provide that much light, you’ll have to supplement it with fluorescent lighting. Turn the pot every three or four days so that the plant doesn’t lean into the sun.

Parsley container gardening is no different than growing any other potted herbs. Choose a container that fits snuggly on the window sill. It should have several drainage holes and a saucer underneath to catch water as it drains through. Fill the pot with a good quality potting soil and add a handful of

clean sand to improve the drainage.

Humidity isn’t usually a problem when you grow parsley in the kitchen where steam from cooking and the frequent use of water helps keep the air moist. In other locations, you may need to mist the plants from time to time. If the leaves look dry and brittle, set the plant on top of a tray of pebbles and add water to the tray, leaving the tops of the pebbles exposed. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity of the air around the plant.

When you’re ready for growing parsley indoors, it’s best to start parsley from seeds sown directly in the container because parsley has a long tap root that doesn’t transplant well. Sprinkle a few seeds on the surface of the soil and cover them with an additional 1/4 inch of soil.

Water the pot regularly to keep the soil moist to the touch but not soggy, and expect seedlings to emerge in three weeks or so. If you get too many seedlings, you’ll have to thin them out. Clip out the excess with scissors or pinch them out between your fingernail and thumb. Pulling them out may damage the tap roots of the surrounding plants.

Indoor Parsley Care

Indoor parsley care is easy. Keep the soil lightly moist, and empty the saucer under the pot after every watering so that the roots don’t sit in water.

Feed the plants every two weeks with fish emulsion or half-strength liquid fertilizer.

You can grow other herbs in the container with parsley, if desired. Herbs that combine well in a mixed container with parsley include chives, thyme, basil, oregano and mint. When planting thyme with parsley herbs, stick them around the edges of a container or hanging basket where it can tumble over the edges.

How To Grow Parsley


A biennial herb (Petroselinum) grown as an annual. Its many horticultural varieties are grouped as curled leaved (var. crispum), fernleaved (var. filicinum) and Hamburg or “rooted” (var. radicosum). Though the leaves of all are used for flavoring meat dishes, soups, salads, etc., the curled varieties are most popular in America for this purpose and for garnishing, though the fern-leaved are just as attractive. Hamburg Parlsey is generally cooked like parsnips.

The leaves may be cut all season for use as needed. In the fall they may be dried and stored in tight jars, or roots may be transplanted into pots or hydroponic planters to be grown on indoors. The following spring remove the flower stems as fast as they appear so as to keep the plants producing leaves until those grown from a newly sown crop are ready.

Growing the Herb Parsley

As parsley seed germinates slowly (sometimes taking several weeks), it should be soaked in warm water overnight before planting. Sow outdoors in early spring in rows 10 to 12 inches apart, and cover 1/2 inch deep. Later thin the plants to stand about 6 inches apart.

Parsley grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight per day or high output plant growing lights.

Parsley grows well in loamy garden soil rich in nitrogen, and does well in full sun or part shade. Parsley can overwinter if lightly mulched during extremely cold weather.

Growing Cultures

Outdoors, in containers, and hydroponic cultures.

Plant Height

Parsley usually grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 – 45cm).

Plant Spacing

Parsley plants should be spaced between 9 and 12 inches (22-30 cm) apart.

Preferred pH Range

Parsley will grow in a pH range between 5.6 (acidic) and 7.5 (neutral) with a preferred range between 6.0 and 7.0.


Sow indoors in sunny location or under plant grow lights six weeks before last frost. Transplant to garden after all danger of frost has passed.

Seed Germination Period

Parsley seeds will germinate in approximately 21 to 28 days. Patience and consistent moisture levels are key.

Number of Seeds per Gram

There are between approximately 650 and 1,000 parsley seeds per gram, depending on variety.

Soil Requirements

Parsley tolerates most soils, but rich, well-drained, moist, with a pH between 6 and 7 is best.

Alternative Growing Media

Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, coco peat, rockwool, or Oasis cubes.

Time From Seed to Saleable Plant

Sow in plugs or direct in pots, 4 to 5 seeds per plug or 12 seeds per pot. Seeds to finished plugs, eight weeks. Plugs to saleable plants, six weeks.

Sun & Lighting Requirements

Parsley grown outdoors prefers full sun and can tolerate some shade.

Parsley will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output T5 fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights. Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.

Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate shorter, sturdier, and more natural plant habit.

USDA Hardiness

Perennial. Zones 5a to 9b.

Water Requirements

Average water needs. Water on a regular schedule, but do not overwater. Allow soil to go dry between waterings, then soak thoroughly.

Potential Plant Pests and Diseases

Parsley can be susceptible to whitefly, spider mites, and aphids, but has minimal disease issues.

Companion Planting

Parsley is beneficial to asparagus, corn, maize, and tomatoes when planted nearby. It attracts Swallowtail Butterflies, wasps, and flies and sacrificially attracts insects that attack tomatoes. Do not plant near Alliums or lettuce.

Special Notes

Grown for it’s aromatic foliage. Suitable for containers.

Buy Parsley Seeds by Botanical Interests

Heirloom Italian Dark Green Flat Parsley Seeds
Prized by gourmets as the most flavorful of all parsleys. Will tolerate partial shade.

Organic Heirloom Italian Dark Green Flat Parsley Seeds
Organic version of above.

Organic Heirloom Moss Curled Parsley Seeds
For a fresh palate, fresh breath & good nutrition, enjoy eating this decorative, hardy herb!

4 Steps to Growing Parsley Indoors

Growing parsley indoors is a viable procedure which is easily executed by any careful gardener. Parsley makes an excellent addition to any indoor herb garden because it is hardy and can be used in almost every dish as an ingredient or garnish. Parsley is perfect for window box planting alongside any other indoor plants you are raising. This article gives you step by step instructions detailing how to propagate parsley from seeds.

Step 1 – Purchase and Prepare Seeds

Germinating parsley seeds is monotonously slow and is best carried out by using the most viable seeds which are those that are less than five weeks old. To accelerate the process, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Do not be afraid if the seeds break open and sprout; this is a good sign, you have very fresh seeds!

Step 2 – Prepare Container and Plant Seeds

Choose a permanent container to grow your parsley in that has a soil carrying capacity of at least one gallon. Fill the bottom inch of the container with gravel before topping it off with a nutrient rich potting soil. It is best to choose an organic potting soil that has time release fertilizer. This way you will know that your plants are in healthy soil that is loaded with food.

Sprinkle your parsley seeds over the prepared container and cover the seeds with a light dusting of potting soil. Make sure that you keep the seeds moist; consider covering them with a layer of plastic wrap to increase the humidity. Remember that germination is extremely slow; sprouts will appear within three or four weeks.

Step 3 – Raise the Seedlings

When seedlings emerge, they will need careful care if they are going to reach maturity. Once the sprouts reach two or three inches in height you must thin the seeds in order to free up room for your mature plants roots. Thin the seedlings according to what is prescribed by the seed packet in which your parsley seeds were purchased.

As the seedlings mature, you will need to remember to keep them moist but not sopping wet. Consider using a spray bottle to mist the foliage and top layer of soil on a daily basis. A light mulch of ground up leaves or grass clippings will help retain moisture if you’re unable to water on a daily basis.

Step 4 – Basic Care for Indoor Parsley

Parsley grown indoors may be a little spindly when compared to parsley that is grown outdoors because of the difference in light levels. If you are concerned about this, consider purchasing a small grow light to supplement the natural light that the plant receives.

Fertilize parsley every other week during watering; it is best to use a liquid fertilizer. Aside from fertilization, parsley is fairly easy to care for. The most important element for parsley is moist soil and full sunlight. As long as you can maintain these conditions, parsley will thrive in your home.

Growing plants from seed is definitely the cheapest way to propagate plants for your garden, if you have the space to sow them and pot them on.

However if you are an urban-living gardener you might only have a window sill or balcony to grow your own herbs.

One of the things you can do is get a great double use out of your supermarket living herbs, by using some of them in cooking, and potting on the rest for later. You can even take cuttings from mint plants which will happily root and grow into new plants.

This pot was picked up in the bargain section of the supermarket, and cost 29p.

Mint plant

Why Supermarket Plants Fail

Overcrowding – The way that supermarkets make a good crop in a small container is to intensively plant the pot with more herb plants than the pot can sustain over a length of time. This is why the herbs you buy form the supermarket don’t live very long – unless you are lucky.

Intensive farming – Often the plants are produced quickly and hastily to make them cost effective for the grower and the supermarket. You will see from this picture that the 4 inch pot (10cm) has 3 mint plants stuffed into it. Each plant has been grown in a small ‘plug’ and three of these have been pushed into the compost, although you can in this case the plugs have not been firmly and fully inserted into the compost. This is another reason that supermarket herbs don’t thrive.

Overcrowded Herbs in a Pot

Wrong compost – Often supermarket plants are planted in soil or compost that is wrong for the plant. In the case of my mint this soil too moisture-retaining for it to be happy, and so this can lead to the leaves getting mould or black spot.

Neglect – staff in the supermarkets don’t have the time (or experience) to care for living plants, and so they need to be sold quickly so they find a loving home before they suffer from neglect.

How to Make Three Plants out of one

You can carefully separate out the three plants from the pot.

  1. Give the pot a good soak before you try to remove the plants. Place the mint pot in a container that is taller than the pot, fill it with water so the level is above the top of the pot and allow the plant to soak up the water for about 20 minutes.
  2. Herb Pot Well Watered

  3. Drain off the excess water and allow the mint to drain for about 5 minutes
  4. Tip the pot out and carefully separate the roots from each of the 3 plants, try to cause as little damage as possible
  5. Carefully Separate Herb Plants at the Roots

  6. Re-pot each of the plants into 10cm/4 inch pots, using a mixture of potting compost and grit. Mint likes a free draining soil
  7. Trim the top growth (see below)

When plants have suffered a bit of root damage they prefer their top growth to be trimmed too, so if you haven’t already used your mint tops in your cooking or Pimms then prune each plant by about a third of their length.

Water the plants again and find them a sheltered spot on the balcony or windowsill to recover from their ordeal.

Newely Potted Herb Plant

The plants will soon start sprouting new growth, and when they are getting a bit big for their pots you can plant them in the garden if you have one. Alternatively you can invest in some attractive pots that will brighten up your balcony and will look great if you bring them inside.

If you have 3 plants on the go, you can have a rotating system where you have a usable bush on your kitchen windowsill, the recently pruned one and the regrowing one can live outside, until they are ready to swap back with the kitchen one.

If you use three different styles of pot you can keep changing your interior look too!

Even More Plants

You can also propagate mint and many other plants by rooting them in water before potting them on.

  1. Take a cutting, approximately 10 cm long (4 inches) using scissors or a sharp knife
  2. Mint Plant Cuttings

  3. Remove all the lower leaves to prevent them rotting in the water
  4. Place the mint cuttings in a container of water. I like to use a glass or jam jar so I can see the root growth when it happens
  5. Place them out of direct sunshine and keep an eye on the water level
  6. Once the roots show you can pot the small plants into a mixture of compost and grit and place in a sheltered position to flourish and grow (as for the plants above)

Mint Plant Ready to Pot

All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards, founder of DIY Doctor and industry expert in building technology.

The most common reason cited by Singaporeans for growing herbs at home is cost: herbs are rather expensive here, so growing them at home seems like the sensible, frugal thing to do. And we are sensible, frugal Singaporeans.

But that’s only half the story.

The truth is, most of us are descended from generations of immigrant farmers – hence growing food is deeply rooted (ha!) in our genes.

But having lived your entire lives in a city, you might not know where to begin horticulturing. And let’s face it, you might actually be put off by the hassle of having to learn all about soil pH, the 170 different types of plant growth hormones, the 250 types of soil fertilizers, and the like. I know I was.

However, I’m not aiming for the Presidency here. Surely growing some stuff can be as easy and simple as one or two visits, max, to a nearby supermarket. I’m sure more of us would take a stab at proper botany if we didn’t have to science the sh*t out of this.

And if you do somehow succeed, you too might discover that being an urban farmer is your life’s purpose, and before you can spell ‘oregano’, you’ll be giving up a lucrative career in advertising to start an urban farm in Queenstown.

Have I got you excited by all the possibilities yet? Enough preamble! Here comes the first herb of my list:

  1. Parsley

Parsley goes well with everything doesn’t it? It goes well especially with a supermarket, where you can buy them either ready-to-eat or stuffed into a tiny pot for budding career gardener-ists.

If you have green fingers and want to take a chance on pre-packaged parsley, choose the freshest bunch (no dry, rotten, or black portions) you can buy that still has intact roots. Then pop those roots into a glass of water as soon as you get home. Wait for the roots to grow out, then repot into well-drained soil.

You can also get pre-potted parsley; just get a larger pot and some potting mix from the supermarket. As a guideline, the bigger pot should be at least about an inch deeper and wider than the original.

Transplanted/repotted parsleys will thrive with only a moderate amount of light (read: about 6 hours a day of direct sunlight, or my daily post-lunch coma snooze), making it a great option for Singaporean homes which should get at least that much light a day from any one spot.

Pro-Tip #1: How to water your plants: water each pot evenly until water emerges from the draining holes at the bottom, then stop.

  1. Basil

With basil, you are in luck: this is globally considered the ‘gateway drug’ of herb gardens because it is one of the easiest to grow anywhere in the world. That’s probably why it is so widely available in our local supermarkets.

Once you bring your potted basil home, pluck off the leaves at the top to encourage growth, leave the stem with some leaves still on, de-pot, wash excess soil out of the roots, and place the bottom of the plant in a cup of water, in a spot with at least 6 hours of sun. Once the roots have grown out an inch longer, you can place the whole lot in a bigger pot.

Continually pinch off the tops to get new leaves growing and continue to give them plenty of sunlight, for basil craves attention. Basil seedlings tend to be quite thirsty if they get plenty of sun, so you will need to water them daily, sometimes twice.

Here’s how to tell: if the leaves start flattening out instead of staying curled up, they are probably dehydrated. So shower them with your love and/or water.

Pro-Tip #2: To know whether or not to water a plant, push your finger into the topsoil, feeling for moisture an inch below. Only water the plant if it feels dry.

  1. Coriander (also called chinese parsley, dhania or cilantro)

This is possibly my all-time favourite herb. My late grandmother used to cook up a luncheon of blanched chicken with oiled fragrant rice (chicken rice, in other words), garnished with parsley and a sprig o’ snipped-up cilantro leaves in a light soy sauce. Dip the tip of each chicken slice into thusly-cilantroed condiment before masticating slowly in mouth. Perfect.

It is quite difficult to start a pot of coriander from just a supermarket cutting, so buy the seeds (sometimes called cilantro seeds), soak them overnight, then crack them open with your fingers or by rolling over them with a glass bottle. Next day, sprinkle cracked seeds onto dry-to-the-touch potting mix, two to three centimeters apart, and air out the pot daily like you do with laundry.

It may take two to three weeks to get seedlings sprouted, so patience is key.

Pro-Tip #3: Underwatering is when plants look wilted and weak, or if leaves turn yellow or are brown.

  1. Mint

Nobody needs an introduction to the humble mint. One of my favourite uses for it is as the secret ingredient for a refreshing lemonade or as the star of mint juleps: a heady mix of bourbon, water and crushed ice. Here’s a recipe. Happy to help.

You can start your mint plantation from most supermarket cuttings. Remove all the leaves from the stem save for a few at the top, place that stem in a glass of water and wait for the roots to show. Then put that in well-drained fertile soil, in a spot facing plenty of sun and water.

Mint is both a grower and a show-er (it grows easily and abundantly), so you’ll have to harvest the freshest leaves off the top regularly.

Mint juleps for nightcaps, anyone?

Pro-Tip #4: If plants look wilted, water the plant thoroughly (until water emerges from the drainage holes in the pot) and place it in the shade. Prune dried leaves. If roots and stems are damaged, the plant is not likely to recover.

  1. Oregano

The last herb in this list can’t be mentioned without also punctuating each word by raising your hands while curling your thumbs and four fingers towards each other, like Italian men do when they want to make a point. Indeed the oregano is ubiquitously associated with Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, useful in any recipe involving cheese, pasta, sourdough or eggs. Good times.

As with all the other herbs on this list, there really isn’t much to growing oregano. Get plucky with leaves, make growy with roots, then go potty. Simples.

Pro-Tip #5: Oregano, basil and parsley can all go in the same pot or wall hanger, like beer buddies. They look good doing it too.

Want to convert more of your home to show off your showers and growers? Get an honest quote from Singapore’s most trusted IDs now!

I have nothing against potted supermarket herbs, other than the plastic pot, plastic sleeve, peat, transportation costs and landfill implications – but they are a better buy than the cut versions. I have bought plenty in my time, splitting the masses into individuals for a longer shelf life than their best-before date suggests.

However, herbs are easy to grow; all you need is a windowsill. And, unlike in supermarkets, you get to choose from 40 types: the tiny leaves of Ocimum basilicum ‘Pluto’ pack a mighty punch; O. basilicum ‘Mrs Burns’ is by far the best lemon; and O. basilicum ‘Dark Opal’ is the best purple, with spicy, warm flavours.

Basil is my favourite indoor herb, but parsley and coriander can be treated in the same way. A packet of seed will cost around the same as a shop-bought plant and, sown judiciously, will last a year. You will have to buy compost and find a pot, but even with these costs you will save money over the year. I make no bones about being in love with the peat-free SylvaGrow compost. It also comes in manageable 15-litre bags.

Your recycling bin will have any number of suitable growing containers in it, from takeaway trays to yoghurt pots: all you need to do is punch in some drainage holes. However, a windowsill propagator kit is well worth investing in; Sarah Raven offers a great one for less than £20.

At this time of year, annual herbs need to be grown as microgreens (baby leaves harvested when they are a few centimetres high), since the light levels are dipping drastically, so growth will be very slow. Using just a few inches of growth from seedlings may seem wasteful, but the flavour is impressive and growth is fast at this stage.

Sow the seeds liberally across the surface of your pot (you want them roughly 1cm apart), water in well and cover with the propagator lid or a clear plastic bag. Within a week, you will have the first signs of growth. I never cover basil seed with compost, but coriander and parsley will need a thin sprinkling. Once they are 1cm tall, start aerating the plants by removing the propagator lid and brushing the leaves gently with your hands to force them to grow stronger. Cut the leaves when they are 5cm or so high. You will get only a single cut, but it’s easy enough to sow successionally, so there’s always another pot ready.

You can reuse the compost – just add a new layer of fresh compost and resow. You will be able do this at least three times – that is, unless you get mould or compost gnats (if the soil is too damp), in which case ditch the batch and start again.

Basil hates to go to bed with wet feet, so always water it in the morning. Coriander often grows leggy in very poor light levels. Parsley is notoriously slow to wake up, so be patient with germination.

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