For those of you living in cold climates or who just don’t want the hassle of planting and harvesting from your garden, you might want to consider growing parsley indoors.
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Fresh parsley is a hugely versatile herb and is used in cooking and for garnishes on food and drinks of many types of cuisine across the world. It’s also a great plant to grow indoors if you’re looking for something to add some color to a bright windowsill.
How to grow parsley indoors
Parsley is such a beautiful plant to grow in the kitchen, but it can be tricky to grow. I’ve been experimenting with growing parsley indoors, and have been enjoying success with it. It needs sunlight, warmth and moist soil, but it doesn’t like being over-watered and it doesn’t like to be transplanted too early.
In this article we cover the best ways to grow parsley indoors, from planting your parsley seeds, through indoor parsley care up to how to store it once you have harvested it.
There are two main types of parsley: curly leaf parsley, and flat leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley). The type of parsley you should choose will depend on your cooking preferences. Curly parsley is great for garnishes, Italian parsley is has a sweet peppery flavor and is great for adding to salads, or seasoning soups, stews, or pasta.
Planting the parsley
Parsley is a biennial plant, but generally should be grown as an annual (it starts to lose its flavor in the second year). This means that you will need to regrow your parsley from seed each year (or at least every two years).
When growing parsley in pots, it is important to choose the right container. You will need a pot with drainage holes in the bottom, and a saucer or outer pot to catch any drainage water.
You can plant parsley from seed indoors starting in early spring. Simply plant seeds around ¼ inch deep into fresh potting mix (don’t use garden soil!). Use a well-drained pot, and plant direct into the pot that you want to grow the plant in, rather than in a seedling pot, as parsley does not transplant well.
Parsley seeds will take about 4 weeks to germinate, though to speed up the germination rate by soaking the seeds for a few hours before planting.
When your plants are a few inches tall, thin out the parsley seedlings, so you have 3 or 4 strong ones in the pot. Use scissors to snip off the stems of the unwanted seedlings at the soil surface.
Positioning your parsley plant
Parsley does well when it gets a lot of light, and so the best place to grow it in doors is a sunny window sill. It will need around 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive, so consider supplementing this with a grow light if needed if you don’t have a bright spot where it will get this much naturally.
Being a Mediterranean herb, parsley prefers warm conditions. A warm indoor location such as a sunny windowsill should provide sufficient warmth. Parsley will tolerate a light frost, but if you live in a very cold climate then you may need to move the parsley plant from the windowsill at night to protect it from overnight temperature drops.
Parsley plants prefer a humid environment. If you are growing your parsley plant in your kitchen, then the humidity may be sufficient for it. However, if it is in a drier part of your house, then it may need to be misted regularly to keep its leaves moist.
Check the condition of the leaves and if they start to look dry at the edges then try misting them (rather than increasing watering).
Indoor parsley care
Parsley grows really well indoors, as long as it gets sufficient water. Unfortunately, it is also susceptible to root rot, so care must be taken to not over water it. Successfully growing parsley indoors is often a matter of finding the right balance of watering not too little, and not too much. You want to keep the soil moist at all times.
To find the right balance, watering your indoor parsley plant frequently enough to ensure moist soil that does not dry out completely between waterings.
However, it is also important to check that the soil has not become waterlogged following watering. To do this, allow the water to filter through the soil for around 5 minutes, and then discard any water that has collected in the pot saucer or outer pot.
If at any time the leaves start to look yellow that is a good sign that the plant is under water stress (either too much or not enough). If this happens troubleshoot the problem by checking to see if the soil has become water-logged, or has dried out, and adjust your watering schedule to ensure that they soil stays evenly moist at all times.
Parsley requires feeding regularly during its growing phase. Use a good quality water-soluble fertilizer during watering every two weeks. Liquid fertilizer is the best type to use as you can just add it to the water when you are watering your plants.
Harvesting your parsley
Once your parsley plant has developed true leaves (rather than the soft seedling leaves), then you can start to harvest it. It is however best to wait until you have at least 10 true leaves before you start harvesting, to ensure that the plant is strong enough to survive having leaves removed.
Harvest parsley as needed, taking leaves from the outside of the plant, and ensure you don’t harvest more than half the plant at any one time.
Pick regularly to encourage new growth and ensure you get a continual supply of leaves.
With a little care it is easy to harvest parsley to encourage growth. See this post for more details: how to harvest parsley.
Fresh cut parsley can be stored in a glass of water (just like fresh cut flowers), or you can store it in the refrigerator between two moist paper towels.
If you want to store parsley for the long-term, then you can easily dry it. Use a dehydrator, or air dry the parsley for best results (its flavor is easily lost if you use heat to dry it).
For more details, check out this post: How to dry parsley.
So there you have it, growing parsley indoors can be fun and rewarding, and a great addition to your indoor herb garden!
A continual supply of this delicious and versatile herb is well worth the little effort required to grow it successfully indoors at home.
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