How to Harvest Parsley (without damaging the plant)

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Parsley is one of my favorite fresh herbs. It’s also an easy herb to grow in your garden. Harvesting parsley, however, should be done in a particular way to keep the plant healthy. This article has all the details on how to harvest parsley without damaging the plant, and to encourage growth.

A bunch of freshly harvested flat leaf parsley on a white cloth.

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Harvesting parsley

Parsley (petroselinum crispum) is a wonderful versatile herbs that can be used in pasta dishes, egg dishes, a garnish for soups, and the greens for salads. It adds a bright, fresh flavor to any dish.

Growing parsley is easy, and it is an essential herb for any kitchen herb garden. However harvesting parsley requires a little care to avoid damaging the plant. There are two commonly grown varieties, curly leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley, and the approach to harvesting either of these is the same.

To harvest parsley and ensure that the plant remains healthy, do not remove more than ½ the plant. Harvest the leaves from the outside first, cutting leaves from the base of the stem. Give the plant time to recover and grow back after removing the leaves. 

When to harvest parsley leaves

Parsley plants can be harvested around 16 weeks after sowing seeds, though you can start to pick leaves as soon as the plant starts to get bushy. 

The best time of day to harvest parsley is in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the day has started to heat up. 

Which stems of parsley to harvest? 

If the stems (or sprigs) have three or more bundles of leaves they can be harvested. Avoid harvesting those with only one or two leaf bundles. 

A bunch of cut parsley on a wooden board
How to harvest parsley

How to harvest parsley so it keeps growing

Harvest sprigs of parsley from the outer portion of the plant, and cut the sprig from the base of the stem near the soil.

New parsley grows from the center of the plant and moves outwards, so by harvesting from the outside and removing the entire stalk you are removing the oldest growth and making room for the newer growth. 

Cutting parsley in this way helps to stimulate new growth, and can reinvigorate a leggy parsley plant.  

To harvest parsley without killing the plant, use a sharp pair of clean kitchen shears or scissors to make a clean cut. This will ensure that the cut is clean and help to prevent damage or disease. 

How to store fresh parsley

To keep harvested parsley fresh, store in between moist paper towels in the refrigerator, or stand stems in a glass of fresh water. It will keep for a few weeks.

If you want to store parsley for a longer time then it is a very easy herb to dry, and dried parsley keeps it flavor well. For more details, check out my article on drying parsley: How to Dry Parsley

A bunch of freshly harvested flat leaf parsley on a white cloth.

How to Harvest Parsley

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: free

A step-by-step guide to harvesting parsley.

Materials

  • A parsley plant

Tools

  • Sharp scissors or secateurs

Instructions

  1. Inspect your parsley plant to find a stem with more than three leaf .
  2. Cut the stem approximately 1 inch above the soil using sharp scissors or secateurs to make a good clean cut.
  3. If you are harvesting the parsley for leaves to use, continue until you have sufficient parsley, or until you have cut back up to half of the plant.
  4. If you are harvesting parsley to improve the condition of your plant, continue to prune until you have cut all the long leggy stems from the outer edge of the plant, up to half of the plant can be removed.
  5. Place the parsley plant in a sunny location and keep watered to ensure it will regrow.

Notes

  1. Store harvested parsley in the fridge between damp paper towels, or stand the stems in a glass of water.

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