Last Updated on April 9, 2023
Parsley is one of the most widely used herbs in the world. It is extremely easy to grow and harvest, meaning you can plant in and always have parsley when needed. It is however key to know how to harvest parsley without killing the plant.
Once harvested, it stores extremely well and you can preserve it in many different ways to ensure a continuous supply of this herb all year round. Although usually used as a garnish, it has amazing flavors that can take both cooked and raw dishes to the next level. To keep enjoying this plant, keep reading to learn the exact way to harvest it without killing the plant.
The Parsely Herb
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a flowering plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean regions of Greece, Morocco, and the former Yugoslavia. It has since been introduced to Europe and all other areas in the world where the climate is suitable for its growth. It is widely cultivated as a herb and used in various dishes.
The plant is bright green and is a biennial with feather-shaped leaves. It prefers temperate climates but does well in a range of conditions.
There are two primary varieties of parsley, that is flat leaf and curly parsley. The curly leaf is the more popular of the two, but both varieties are used for culinary purposes. The flat leaf parsley is also known as Italian parsley.
Both varieties of parsley have a refreshing earthy taste and a subtle scent and are mostly used in vegetable dishes, stews, soups, salads, and sauces. Parsley is more commonly used in traditional Middle-Eastern and Greek foods.
In addition to having a great state, parsley has various nutritional benefits. It is rich in many nutrients, especially vitamins A and C, and iron.
The ideal growing conditions for parsley include moist, well-drained, and loamy soils, and full to partial sunlight. It prefers warmer climates but can withstand light frost without too much damage, and will re-emerge in the spring. It is also an easy plant to grow from seed and has high rates of germination.
If you are a lover of butterflies, parsley has n added benefit for you and your garden. It is an excellent host for swallowtail caterpillars (Papilionidae) and will multiply in your garden if you grow parsley.
How to Cut Parsley Plant
The parsley plant is harvested for its flavourful leaves as well as its seeds. When doing this, it is best to cut the younger plants for leaves. Younger stems have a stronger flavor. The older plants, which may maybe be in their second growing season are better suited for harvesting seeds.
Does Parsley Grow Back?
Parsely takes about two to three weeks to grow back after harvest. As a result, you need to plan your harvests accordingly to give your herbs enough time to grow again before the next harvest.
If you cut down the parsley plant entirely, it will eventually grow back. It will just take a long time to do so. Only cut what you need at any time to allow the plant to continue growing and producing for a long time.
How to Prune Parsley
Parsely should be pruned back regularly to increase yield. Even if you do not plan on using the herb, you need to prime it once every couple of weeks. The more you cut, the bushier your plant will grow back.
Here are simple tips on how to prune parsley for a better harvest:
- Whenever you harvest your parsley for use, also snip off some stems on the outside of the plant
- Trim off any yellow or brown leaves and stems to encourage new, healthy growth
- Trim the plant at the base of the stem, closer to the soil. If you trim higher, you may slow down plant growth
- The plant prefers a clean cut, so when you cut, use a sharp pair of scissors instead of pinching off the plant
When to Harvest Parsley
Parsley takes about 70-90 days to grow before it s ready for harvesting. You do not have to wait this long before you can start harvesting some leaves. It is however advisable to wait until the plant has produced ample foliage before you start harvesting the leaves.
If all this sounds confusing and you are still unsure, just wait until your plants start getting bushy and have lots of branching leaves before you start to harvest them.
Parsley is a biennial plant that is often grown as an annual and grows back when cut or harvested. When grown in temperate climates, it can be harvested all year round because the temperature stays right for it to keep growing. In other regions, the growing season of the herb is from spring right through fall.
The best time of day to harvest parsley is in the morning before it gets too hot in the day. The plant has the most potent flavor during this period during the high content of essential oils.
How to Pick Parsley – 8 Simple Steps
When it comes to harvesting parsley, you want to make sure that you do it in a way that will keep your plant growing. Follow these eight simple steps to ensure this.
Step 1: Choose younger plants
Younger plants have the best and strongest flavor. These can be harvested after the first year of growth. These can be harvested even in the first year of growth provided that are big enough. This will help the plant to keep putting out new growth.
Step 2: Only harvest plant stems that have at least three segments
Stems that have three segments are considered mature enough for harvest. Those that have only one or two should be left alone.
Step 3: Cut at the base of the stem
It is better to cut the plant at the base than at the top of the stem. This will help the plant to bush out better when it grows back.
Step 4: Cut leaves from the outer parts of the plant
Harvesting the older outer leaves of the plants will help the plant to direct its energy toward new growth.
Step 5: Harvest continually
Harvest your parsley in small batches throughout the growing season. Doing this will help the plant to have enough leaves and stems on it to keep regenerating for a continuous harvest. A good rule of thumb is to always leave ½ – ⅔ of the plant intact when harvesting. Always give your plant about a week to recover between harvests.
Step 6: Bulk harvest at the end of the season
If parsley is planted outside and it is in a cold climate, it is most likely going to get killed by the winter. So right before the winter comes, harvest all your plants and store them. This will give the plant a chance to grow back in the next season.
Step 7: Use your harvested parsley
You can use your parsley freshly harvested
Step 8: Store your harvested parsley
You can store it by refrigerating, freezing, or drying it for long-term storage.
Harvesting Parsley Seeds
After a parsley plant has grown and matured, it produces seeds. This does not happen in the first year of growth. If you would like to harvest seeds from your parsley plants, closely monitor them when they enter the second year of growth. This is when they typically flower ad produce seeds, at the end of their life cycle.
To get a good crop as the growing seasons go by, remove any weak, unhealthy, or imperfect parts of the plant at the end of the first season. This will allow the second-year growth to be much stronger, and healthier and produce good-quality seeds.
You will see that the seeds are ready to harvest when they have darkened. At this point, you can cut them from the plant by removing the stem right below the seed head. You can use sharp scissors to do this, or simply use your fingers to pinch off the seed heads.
Do not move the seed heads too much while harvesting as shaking them will cause the seeds to scatter. Because the seeds are very small, they will be hard to recover. Place the harvested seeds in a paper bag and let them dry. Once they are dry, shake the bag to separate the seeds from their heads. and then you can store them in a cool dry place until they are ready to use.
How to Store Fresh Parsley
Fresh parsley can be stored at room temperature for short-term storage. To do this, bundle the stems together and snip the ends. Then place the stems in a glass or vase filled with water. This way, your parsley will last for about 2-3 days. Wash the parsley before you use it.
You can also store them in the refrigerator for short-term storage. To store them this way, wash your harvested stems and remove any dirt or dust from them. Use a paper town or a dry kitchen cloth to dab them dry. Place them in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator, and they will stay fresh for up to 10 days.
Freezing is an option for a longer-term storage solution. You can freeze whole sprigs or cut the leaves small and freeze them with some water in ice cube trays. Frozen parsley will retain its flavor but lose its crispiness. Keep this in mind if you freeze it. Frozen parsley can store for up to six months.
One of the best ways to store parsley for a long time is to dry it. Hang harvested and washed whole sprigs upside down in a warm, dark, and well-ventilated area for them to air dry. It will take about 7-10 days to dry completely. Once completely dry, crumble the leaves and store them in an airtight container or bag.
Another drying option is to use a food dehydrator to dry your parsley quickly and easily. Only use the air drying option as high heat can negatively impact the flavor of the herbs. Store your dried herbs in a mason jar sealed with a food saver and jar sealer attachment. Use dried parsley within 2-3 years.
Quick Summary – How to Harvest Parsley without Killing the Plant
Harvesting parsley is an extremely easy and quick process, and can be done in a way that will allow you to harvest continually throughout the growing season. To do this, just take what you need each time you harvest. Don’t cut the plant all the way back, and don’t pull the plant. – just snip off a stem or two or three. This will allow your plant to grow back healthier and bushier.
Be gentle when harvesting. Use sharp scissors or knives but do not give in to the temptation to pull or tug on the plant, even if it is a bit hard to cut. Pulling may damage the plant and ultimately kill it.
Remember also to harvest the older leaves first, to allow the plant to direct energy into growing new foliage. As a result, your plant will keep producing parsley all season long.
Harvest your herb continually, even if you do not plan n using it. Pruning the plant, and taking off the outer leaves and stems will encourage new growth and will cause your plant to grow better.
We hope this article has provided you with everything you needed to know about how to harvest parsley without killing the plant.
An aquaculture specialist and freelance writer. Passionate about anything sustainable living, such as growing your own food, and if you can do it in conjunction with fish farming, even better! I currently work as an aquaculture researcher where I can expand and share my knowledge and skills on aquaculture, crop farming and adding value to wastewater by using it to grow food products. I enjoy reading and learning as much as possible, and writing is another avenue for me to share the knowledge I gain with others. I want my writing to inspire people to try their hand at gardening, whether indoors or outdoors. You can even start by keeping a few houseplants indoors to help you gain a bit of confidence if you need to.