How To Grow Parsley In Pots: Expert Growing Tips

How To Grow Parsley In Pots: Expert Growing Tips

Who doesn’t love to grow fresh herbs? Parsley is a versatile herb that can easily be grown in pots. You can either grow it outdoors or on a bright windowsill in your kitchen. Here’s everything you need to know on how to grow parsley in pots.

There are different varieties of parsley and we’ll explore these in more detail so that you can best decide which one you want to grow. Essentially, to get the best results when growing parsley in pots, all you need is a premium potting mix, some liquid fertiliser and a little patience.

Parsley has its main growing season in spring and summer but in a warm climate, it will grow for most of the year.

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Planting Parsley In Pots

parsley growing in a white pot

Before planting your parsley, you’ll need to gather your supplies. As parsley can grow to a height of 12 inches (30 cm) and to a width of about the same, select a pot that is at least 9 inches (20 cm) in diameter.

You could start with a smaller pot, especially if you’re growing from seed. However, this may mean that you’ll have to repot your parsley into a larger pot once it starts to grow. Or, if you use it often in your cooking, at least keep it well-trimmed so that the roots have plenty of room to grow and sustain the plant.

Just make sure that the pot you choose has good drainage holes to ensure that any excess water can drain away freely.

The next thing you’ll need is some premium potting mix. Always purchase a good potting mix that is designed for use in pots. It’s important not to use garden soil because it has a denser structure and will quickly become compacted in a pot.

Then, all you’ll need is some parsley seeds or seedlings that you can purchase from your local garden centre or nursery. You can even find more advanced plants that will have enough growth for you to harvest some parsley leaves as soon as you pot them up.

Growing Parsley From Seeds

small parsley seedlings

Parsley can easily be grown from seeds in early spring. What I like to do is fill a pot with premium potting mix almost to the top. Parsley seeds are quite small and don’t have to be planted too deep.

After you’ve filled the pot, just sow seeds over the surface of the soil and cover them lightly with a little more potting mix. You can soak the seeds in some warm water overnight to speed up germination.

Water the soil and place the pot in a nice bright spot that is relatively warm. This can be either indoors on a bright windowsill or outside in an area that is protected from cold and wind. It’s best to start your parsley in spring as it prefers to grow in the warmer weather.

Make sure that you don’t sow too many seeds in one pot as you’ll have to thin out the seedlings once the seeds have germinated. Four of five seeds per pot should be sufficient.

Keep the soil moist but not overly wet and have some patience because it can take up to 30 days for parsley seeds to germinate.

Once the seedlings have emerged and have their first true leaves, you can thin them out so that you have one plant per pot. The seedlings that you remove can be planted into additional pots if you wish.

Growing Parsley From Seedlings Or Transplants

young curly leaf parsley

If you want to get a headstart with your parsley, you can purchase seedlings or transplants from your local garden centre. These should be planted one per pot to give each plant enough room to grow.

Once again, choose suitably sized pots and fill them with premium potting mix. Make a hole in the centre of each pot to place each seedling into.

If you’ve purchased a punnet of parsley seedlings, separate the individual plants carefully without causing too much damage to the roots. Parsley really doesn’t like to have its roots disturbed too much, so keep this in mind.

Make the hole in the centre of the pot deep enough to accommodate the length of the roots. If the roots are overly long, you can safely pinch them back a little before placing the plant in the hole.

Fill the space around the plant with a little more potting mix and firm down gently so that the stem of the plant is well supported. Water well to allow the soil to settle around the roots.

Place your potted parsley in a nice bright spot, either indoors or outdoors if the weather is warm enough. If you don’t have a bright enough spot indoors, you can use a grow light to keep your plant happy.

How To Care For Your Parsley

parsley growing in a pot on a windowsill

Parsley is one of those plants that doesn’t require a lot of special care. All you have to remember to do is water your plant so that the soil never completely dries out.

Depending on the weather and the size of the pot, this could mean daily watering when it’s really warm. This is because potting soil does dry out quite fast and parsley really doesn’t like to dry out.

In fact, the plant will let you know when it needs water as the leaves will droop and look wilted. But, don’t worry. Your plant will soon perk up again when you give it some water.

For optimum growth, give your parsley around one to two inches of water every week.

Parley also doesn’t require a lot of fertiliser. A dose of half-strength liquid fertiliser once or twice in spring should be sufficient.

To keep your plant growing happily, harvest some leaves often as this will encourage more growth.

Different Types Of Parsley

Close up of flat leaf parsley

As I’ve already mentioned, there are different varieties of parsley that you can grow. Depending on your preference, you might to grow all of these varieties or choose the one that you like the best.

Curly Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

This is the common variety that you’re most likely familiar with. It has lovely curly leaves and is attractive as an ornamental plant as well. It is often used as a garnish on different dishes in restaurants. It’s quite an attractive plant and easy to grow.

Flat-Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum)

This type of parsley has flat leaves that are serrated. It has a stronger flavour than curly leaf parsley and can grow quite tall.

Italian Parsley

This is also a flat-leaf parsley similar to standard flat-leaf parsley in growth. It has a slightly peppery flavour and adds something a little extra to your cooking.

Japanese Parsley

This is quite an unusual variety of parsley with a somewhat bitter flavour. It also grows quite strong stems and these can be used in a similar way to celery.

How To Harvest Parsley

freshly harvested parsley with a potted parsley plant in the background

You can start to harvest your parsley once the plant is around 6 inches (15 cm) tall. It’s a good idea to just harvest entire stems from around the outside of the plant. Cut these right at the base of the plant.

By harvesting only the outer leaves on your parsley, the inner leaves and stems will continue to grow and you’ll have a constant supply of fresh new growth to harvest.

When harvesting your parsley, ensure that you never cut more than one-third of the growth. 

Can You Propagate Parsley?

Although we’ve talked about growing parsley from seed or buying seedlings from a nursery, you can also propagate parsley vegetatively using stem cuttings. While this does not give a one hundred percent success rate, it is worth trying.

It’s also a great way to use those parsley stems that you might have in excess. Then, you can give those new young plants away to family and friends.

Here’s what to do:

  • Take healthy stem cuttings that are around 6 inches (15 cm) long.
  • Remove the lower leaves of the cuttings but keep the top ones.
  • Fill a small pot with some seed-raising mix or just use premium potting mix.
  • Place the bottom part of the stem into the mix and firm the soil around it.
  • Keep the soil nice and moist but not overly wet.
  • Place the pot with the cutting in a bright spot but out of direct sunlight.

If successful, your cutting should produce roots within a few weeks. You can increase your success rate by dipping the stem in rooting hormone before planting in the pot.

For more expert tips on growing herbs, you might want to check out these articles:

How To Grow Herbs On A Balcony

Best Soil For Herbs In Containers

What Herbs Grow Best In A Vertical Herb Garden?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is parsley an annual, perennial or biennial plant?

Parsley is what is known as a biennial herb. This means that it will generally complete its entire lifecycle in two years. In the first year, it will produce lots of green growth while in the second year, it will complete its cycle by producing flowers and seeds. Once flowering begins, the leaves become quite bitter and inedible. However, in colder climates, parsley is often grown as an annual.

Are parsley and cilantro the same?

Cilantro also known as coriander does look quite similar to flat-leaf parsley but it has a distinctly different flavour. You can usually tell the difference by rubbing a leaf between your fingers and smelling it. You’ll also find that coriander has more rounded leaves than flat-leaf parsley.

Is it just the stems and green leaves of parsley that are edible?

You might be surprised to learn that the roots of parsley plants are also edible. Parsley grows a long taproot that is somewhat similar to a parsnip. It can be used in salads and other dishes and has quite a strong flavour. The Hamburg parsley variety is particularly good for this.

Does parsley need full sun or can it grow in partial shade?

Parsley does best when given around 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. However, it does benefit from some partial shade in the afternoon.

Does parsley need plenty of water?

Parsley prefers moist soil to flourish and doesn’t really like to dry out.

Final Thoughts

Parsley is such an easy herb to grow that any gardener should have it in their collection. While it can be grown quite successfully in the garden, it also does really well in pots.

This makes it ideal for gardeners with limited space or even just a balcony to grow on.

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