How to grow Italian parsley

Grown for its superior flavour and culinary attributes, Italian flat leaf parsley is often mistaken for coriander, even though the flavour and aroma couldn’t be more different. A traditional components of bouquet garni, parsley is versatile in the kitchen and contains a powerhouse of nutrients.

What you need to know about Italian flat leaf parsley

Name: Parsley, Italian flat leaf parsley, Italian parsley, flat leaf parsley, continental parsley, Petroselinum crispum

Height: 25-35cm

Foliage: A biennial herb

Climate: All climates

Soil: Plant in a soil enriched with compost and decomposed manure

Position: Full sun

Flowering and fruiting: N/A

Feeding: Regular applications of a seaweed solution or organic liquid fertiliser to encourage strong deep green growth

Watering: Regular watering required, especially during hot, dry weather

close up of italian flat leaf parsley leaves in a healthy rich green hue

Appearance and characteristics

Generally considered the more culinary of the parsleys, Italian flat leaf parsley has a strong flavour that is best added to cooking at the last minute to maximise flavour and nutrition. All parts of the plant are edible, just like curly leaf parsley, however it is less bitter than its curly relative. Often mistaken for coriander, both have very distinct and different flavours, which makes identification easy.

Uses for Italian flat leaf parsley

A culinary herb of great merit, parsley grows in pots and garden beds, bringing a fresh flavour to cuisines from around the world. A nutrient rich herb, parsley has myriad health benefits to match its versatility in the kitchen.

How to grow Italian flat leaf parsley

  1. Parsley is a biennial herb grown from seed every two years. Refrigerate seed for two weeks and soak in lukewarm water for at least two hours prior to sowing.

  2. Sowing thinly in a punnet of seed raising mix or directly into the garden on a soil improved with decomposed manure and compost. Parsley seed is small and fine and will readily germinate if sown on the surface of the soil. Do not plant too deeply.

  3. Parsley seed needs to be kept moist. Water regularly or use a propagator unit with a lid to help maintain optimal soil moisture. Seed will germinate within 3-4 weeks. Parsley can be sensitive to transplanting, so if conditions are favourable, sow directly in the garden. Apply snail and slug pellets at sowing to protect emerging seedlings.

  4. If transplanting from punnets or pots, plant in full sun in a soil enriched with compost and decomposed manure. Water regularly.


Caring for Italian flat leaf parsley

Once established, parsley is easy to grow as long as it has full sun and adequate water. If left to dry out, parsley can run to seed prematurely. Protect from snails and slugs and apply a seaweed solution regularly during establishment to maintain optimal plant health.

How often should you water and feed

Parsley enjoys a moist soil and regular watering, especially during hot or dry weather. In pots, daily watering will be required during the summer months. In gardens every second day should suffice. Mulch to keep soil moist.

A leafy green, parsley enjoys regular applications of a seaweed solution or organic liquid fertiliser.  Apply a complete granular fertiliser in spring and autumn.

How and when to prune Italian flat leaf parsley

Harvest regularly as required, never removing more than half the plant at a time. Harvest from the outside inward to use the oldest leaves first.

Diseases and pests

Snails and slugs will devour young seedlings as well as germinating seeds, so protect with snail and slug pellets and snail traps.

How to propagate Italian flat leaf parsley

  1. Parsley sets seed in its second year.

  2. Harvest the first seeds as soon as they turn dark brown, this will ensure seed is ripe and ready to germinate.

  3. Remove seed heads and place in a container or bucket, leave to dry and then shake the seed from the heads.

  4. Spread over paper towel and allow to dry for a few additional days before storing in a clearly marked envelope.

If you like this then try

Curly parsley: a more decorative type of parsley that is tolerant of part shade.

Coriander: a popular herb that’s also versatile in cuisines from around the globe.  

Chives: a mild onion-like herb that can be harvested when needed. 

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