Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Growing Parsley from Seeds or Seedlings

Parsley seedlings in trays

Parsley seedlings in trays

Parsley is a biennial plant—meaning that the plant will die after it blooms—but you can grow it year-round if you want to have plants indoors.

Parsley seed is notoriously slow to germinate and can require four to six weeks to sprout, so it can help to get started early indoors. Soaking parsley seeds in warm water for at least 24 hours can help speed up germination. You can also try placing parsley seeds in a wet, but not dripping, paper towel and putting the paper towel into a zip lock bag. Blow a bit of air into the bag before closing and put the bag with the parsley seeds on top of the refrigerator. The key to growing parsley from seed is patience.

Once the seeds sprout and the root seems strong, gently remove them from the paper towel and plant the sprouted parsley seeds into a mixture of potting soil and growing medium. By combining the growing medium and potting soil you can gain the benefits of both—the soil doesn’t dry out so fast and the growing medium is more light and airy.

The high moisture requirement means that parsley seeds should be sown very early.

Planting Parsley Seeds

To plant parsley seeds directly in your garden, plant in cold frames or beds for later transplantation. One option is to sew in rows only 3 to 4 inches apart with alternating rows of radishes. By the time the parsley seedlings appear, the radishes will have already been harvested. The radishes will also help mark the rows as well as loosen the soil and shape the parsley seedlings.

Another common companion for parsley is lettuce. Another early producer, lettuce will be harvested just as the parsley is taking hold providing the gardener with a much more efficient use of their garden space. That said, once the parsley is established, lettuce is not a good parsley companion plant.

If you don’t have the patience for germinating parsley seeds, you can always get seedlings from your local garden center and plant them in your home garden—not a bad option!

Have you tried growing parsley from seeds, seedlings, or both? Which method do you prefer—and why? Please tell us how you get your parsley garden started every year.

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