Bringing in the Experts

Flat Italian Parsley plant in herb garden
Here’s hoping this parsley plant will perk up when we drop back down to cooler temperatures. Parsley prefers the cool seasons.

Earlier this season, I wrote a blog post about growing perfect parsley (Flat Italian to be exact). I haven’t been able to grow really successful parsley since we moved to our home three years ago, and being that it is an herb I use quite often, I challenged myself by planting two more plants to see if location and water had something to do with my lack of success.

A month into the test, the two new plants had already taken a turn for the worst. After doing my own investigating on the web and scouring through a couple of garden books, I came up with the theory that perhaps my parsley had a fungus and I needed to pull them.

Just to make sure, I contacted a gardening expert through the Bonnie Plants website, uploaded the picture with a close-up of the white spots showing on the leaves, and gave as many details as I could. I got a quick response. The expert, an Extension agent named Dani, said it looked like I had a severe infestation of spider mites and recommended pulling the plant rather than treating it.

However, she also told me how to check the plants to make sure. I took a sheet of white copy paper, placed it under the foliage of the parsley, and shook the leaves over the paper. She said that if VERY tiny black bugs fell onto the paper, that would probably be an infestation of spider mites. The ones planted in April did, so I pulled them.

If I had caught it earlier, according to the expert advice, three remedies would’ve helped:

  • hard sprays of water to knock a small population of arthropods off the bottom of the leaves
  • insecticidal soap
  • horticultural oils (though they will harm the plant in hot summer weather)

No matter which of the remedies used, I would also have needed to clip off all damaged leaves because they won’t turn green again and don’t do much for the plant.

Lastly, I was told that parsley looks stunted in the summer when there are multiple days of 90 degree weather (we’ve had many days over 90 in Birmingham, Alabama, where I garden). This kind of weather stunts the plant and may only leave about 15 leaves on the plant. But when fall comes, that’s when the plant starts to show out. So I left the parsley planted in early June to see if cooler temperatures could revive it.

I am so glad I used Ask an Expert because I ended up learning so much more than I had expected!