Parsley plant is native to Europe and is grown as an annual culinary herb. The botanical name is Petroselinum crispum and the common name is parsley. This herb grows in clumps of lacy foliage which is about twelve inches tall. This plant has triangular dark-green leaves that can be use to garnish or use as an aromatic addition to recipes. If the plants are left to overwinter, the plant will return for a second year to flower, although the taste will become bitter after the first year.
Parsley plant is best planted early spring through summer, some varieties of parsley plant will grow fairly slowly, establishing maturity between seventy to ninety days after planting. Compare to other cooking herb, the germination rates are considerably lower for parsley plant.
How to Grow Parsley
Parsley has different varieties and these varieties yield different flavors, you need to consider how you will like to use the herb before choosing the kind of variety to plant in your garden. Parsley variety like Curly-leaved is a little bitter for some palettes, while flat-leaved parsley variety which is also known as Italian parsley is more in favor with today’s cooks.
Furthermore, growing parsley does not require much maintenance. What is required is enough water and some good soil or fertilizer.
Light requirement: This herb plant can adapt to a variety of conditions and it will really grow well in environments that range from full sun to part shade. If your growing area is particularly hot, an afternoon shade is appreciated, however the parsley plants need to get at least 8 hours of sunlight a day.
Soil requirement: This plant is grown for its leaves and the plant likes soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil for planting should be moist but well-draining so that the parsley plant does not become waterlogged. If you are growing the plant in pots or containers, you can consider planting the parsley plant in a clay or terracotta vessel, this will actually help to wick excess moisture from the soil. In addition, parsley plant also does best in a mixture with a soil pH that is around neutral to mildly acidic range between 6.0 and 7.0.
Water requirement: This plant actually love to be consistently moist, and the plant will benefit from at least one to two inches of water per week (which is either from rainfall or manual watering methods). Make sure you don’t allow the soil of your parsley plant to dry out. Parsley plant does not tolerate drought well and they can quickly wither and brown.
Temperature and humidity requirement: This plant can really thrive in a wide range of temperature as long as the plant is grown properly within its USDA hardiness zone. Parsley actually does well with temperatures between sixty and seventy degrees Fahrenheit. If you actually live in a particularly hot area during the summer, provide the parsley plant a bit of additional shade or water in other to help supplement in the warmer temperatures. This plant has no special humidity requirements.
Fertilizer requirement: This is not too necessary for its success, but the plant can benefit from a bit of fertilization once or twice at the beginning of the growing season. You can treat the parsley plants once a month in the spring with a well-balanced organic liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Ensure you use something suitable for edible plants. On the other hand you can easily amend your soil with lots of organic matter and compost to up the nutrition.
Varieties of Parsley
There are different varieties of parsley. The following are parsley varieties;
- Curly parsley varieties: Curly parsley varieties include the standard type of parsley. They are very easy to grow and they are attractive in the herb garden.
- Flat-leaf parsley varieties: Flat-leaf parsley varieties are varieties of parsley that have flat leaves and they grow relatively tall, up to thirty-six inches. Flat-leaf parsley tends to be more flavorful than curly parsley.
- Italian flat-leaf parsley varieties: Italian flat-leaf parsley varieties have a slightly peppery taste. These varieties of parsley are a good addition to a butterfly garden.
- Japanese parsley varieties: The Japanese parsley varieties are native to Japan and China and they are evergreen herbs with a bitter flavor. Japanese parsley has strong stems that can be eaten like celery.
How to Harvest Parsley
Parsley can be harvested when it is about six inches tall and when it’s relatively bushy. You can easily harvest the whole stems from the base of the plant to encourage more growth. You can cut the stems from the parsley plant as needed, but make sure you don’t remove more than one-third of the plant leaves at a time.
Disease Control in Parsley
Actually this plant can be easily prone to a handful of fungal diseases, which include powdery mildew, leaf blights, septoria leaf spot and damping off. The onset and spread of the disease can be limited by starting with good quality, disease-free seeds and also allowing the parsley plants access to good air circulation.