In the Garden
Parsley is a lush plant growing up to a foot high in a beautiful rosette of green foliage. Use parsley plants as companions to annuals, perennials, and herbs in beds, containers, and window boxes. Plants make a nice seasonal edging and provide a striking contrast to colorful annuals, like yellow pansies or bright pink petunias. Curled parsley has a more ruffled appearance than flat-leafed parsley, but both are equally lush.
Parsley is an annual in the North, growing from spring until freezing weather.In milder climates, it lives through winter. It is frost proof. The second spring the plant blooms, goes to seed, and then finally gives out. When you see it send up a flower stalk, it’s time to yank the plant because at this point it tastes bitter.
Plant in the spring or also in fall in zones 7 and warmer. Normal winters in the South and Southwest provide wonderful growing conditions for parsley and many gardeners use parsley in pots and flower beds as a green foliage filler to pansies and violas for winter. Italian flat-leafed parsley is a bit more heat tolerant than curly parsley.
Set transplants in full sun or partial shade and rich, moist soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.7. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before or at planting. Keep the soil moist. If the plant wilts, the edges turn yellow, and since it’s the leaves that you eat, this can really hurt the quality of your harvest. Keep roots cool and moist with mulch, but to avoid rot, keep mulch away from the crown of the plant.In September, promote new foliage by cutting back plants set out in the spring; this is especially true for plants grown in vegetable and herb beds strictly for their harvest. Fertilize with Bonnie’s Herb & Vegetable Plant Food to boost new growth.
Of course, if you find parsleyworm caterpillars, leave them alone. They will do the trimming for you! In areas where parsley over-winters, the plants live through winter and be ready to replace the next spring.
Parsley is a favorite food of the brightly striped parsleyworm caterpillar, which becomes the treasured black swallowtail butterfly. This is not really trouble–it’s a treat, even if they do eat the leaves. Gardeners often plant a parsley just to attract these butterflies to their garden (dill and fennel, too).A serious pest is whitefly. To get rid of them spray the underside of the leaves thoroughly with insecticidal soap.
Gather parsley stems and leaves as needed. Cutting the leaf stalks at the base of the plant from the outside near the base of the plant makes the plant bushier.Freeze parsley for winter use; although it is easily dried, it does not keep its flavor well.
Parsley pairs well with meat and egg dishes, potato and pasta dishes, vegetables, rice, salads, and soups, as well as cottage cheese and herb butters. Add chopped parsley to a dish near the end of the cooking process or sprinkle it on vegetables or salads immediately before serving to keep the fresh flavor. It is also a chief ingredient in bouquet garni.
Is parsley for seasoning or just a garnish?
I have caterpillars on my parsley. What can I use to kill them and still be able to eat the parsley?
My parsley lasted all winter, but now it looks terrible. I thought it was a perennial. What can I do?
Instead of being dark green, my parsley is covered with tiny white dots. What is happening?