Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is more than just a pretty face on your dinner plate. The celery and carrot relative is rich in potassium and vitamin A and, in moderation, it’s a good source of dietary fiber. A biennial plant, parsley spends its first year growing a few leaves but concentrates mostly on building a taproot in which to store energy over the winter. The following spring, the plant produces stems, leaves and flowers. Parsley can also provide an attractive and aromatic element for your indoor herb garden.
Planting Parsley Seeds
Waiting for parsley seeds to germinate isn’t quite as boring as watching paint dry, but you will need patience because they are slow to break the soil. If you soak the seeds in warm water the day before planting you may speed the process along.
Choose 4- to 6-inch planting pots with holes in the bottom to allow water to drain from them. Fill them with a moist, sterile, soilless potting mix. Place two or three seeds on the surface of each pot and cover them with a 1/8-inch layer of soil. Cover each pot with plastic wrap to help trap moisture and keep the seeds warm. When the seedlings appear, remove the plastic wrap. When they reach 2 to 3 inches in height, remove all but the largest.
Give Them Light
Parsley plants require lots of light to grow strong, so place the pots near a window with a southern or western exposure. Six to eight hours of sunlight each day is ideal, but if you can’t provide that, use fluorescent lights. Place them 6 inches above the tops of the plants, and leave them on for 12 hours every day.
Water and Fertilizer
Keep an eye on the moisture content of the soil as the seedlings grow. Water them only when the soil feels dry to the touch. About three weeks after the seeds sprout, apply a liquid fish emulsion at half the strength listed on the label. As a rule of thumb, use 1/8 teaspoon of fish emulsion in 1 quart of water. Use the solution to water the plants every four to six weeks.
Transplanting Parsley Seedlings
When your parsley seedlings have their third set of leaves, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers. Transplant the parsley seedlings into 12-inch pots with drainage holes, and fill the pots with a quality potting soil.
Use a pencil to create a planting hole that's the depth at which the seedlings are currently growing. Carefully remove the parsley seedlings from their current pots and avoid touching the roots. Slide the roots into the hole in the soil in the new pot; fill the hole with soil and pat very gently to ensure that the roots have contact with the soil.