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When to Plant Parsley

Parsley seedlings

Parsley is a biennial usually grown as an annual. The leaves are used for flavoring, garnishing, and in salads.

Sow parsley seeds directly in the garden 2 to 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring. For transplants, start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before setting transplants in the garden; transplants can be set in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before to 4 to 6 weeks after the last frost.

How to speed germination

Parsley seeds can be slow to germinate. To speed germination, soak seeds in water for 48 hours, changing the water twice, before planting them. Be sure to discard the water because the seeds contain compounds called furanocoumarins which blocks germination. After soaking the seeds, freeze them for a week before planting. An alternative is to rub the seeds between two sheets of sandpaper before sowing.

Sow seeds ½ inch deep being sure to cover the seeds because they germinate best in the absence of light. Parsley grows best sandy loam with good drainage. Parsley should be planted in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.

Harvest of a few sprigs at a time can begin once the plant is established. Potted parsley can be moved indoors in winter to continue the harvest.

Spring parsley plant

Parsley seed sowing dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-30
Feb. 8Jan. 1-30
Feb. 18Jan. 1-30
Feb. 28Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Mar. 10Feb. 1-Mar. 10
Mar. 20Feb. 15-Mar. 15
Mar. 30Mar. 1-Apr. 1
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 10
Apr. 20Mar. 20-Apr. 20
Apr. 30Apr. 1-May 1
May 10Apr. 15-May 15
May 20May 1-20
May 30May 10-June 1
June 10May 20-June 10
Mature parsley plant

Parsley planting details

  • Sowing depth: 1/2 inch (1.2cm)
  • Space between plants after thinning: 4-6 inches (10-15cm)
  • Days to sprout: 11-28; soak seeds overnight then freeze for a week before sowing.
  • Days to harvest: 70-90 days to reach harvest; you can begin picking leaves as you need them sooner.
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks
  • Seeds per 100 row feet: 1/2 ounce (14 grams)
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 50 pounds
  • Suggested varieties: Afro, Flat Leaf, Triple Curled

Related articles of interest:

How to Grow Parsley

Parsley: Kitchen Basics

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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