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Plant Profile: Parsley (Petroselinum crispum [curly]; Petroselinum neapolitanum [Italian parsley])

I am especially fond of parsley for both its flavor and its use in my flower garden.  I am the type of (rude?) person that always eats the parsley garnish and looks for more.  It is easy to grow, endearing it even more to me, and I grow it in a pot near the kitchen door every year, on a sunny windowsill all winter, and in my flower garden from summer into fall.  Both the curly and flat kinds add bright green color as well as interesting texture to the front of the border and they been a great fill in for plants like lamb’s ear that melt out in late summer. 

Since parsley is a biennial, I harvest whatever I can find of the old plants during the spring and start new ones from seed.  A good 1-2 day soaking helps the seeds germinate in a reasonable amount of time with a very high germination rate.  I usually use one pack of seed for two years because it yields so many plants and seems to stay viable from one year to the next.  The seedlings transplant well and grow quickly with constant moisture and frequent applications of water-soluble all purpose fertilizer like Miracle Grow.  In mid to late summer when I am using it by the handfuls in tabbouleh and gazpacho I often have to share my plants with the caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies that gorge on my plants and reduce them to leafless stems.  No problem, I switch salads and soups while the plants quickly recover and then I am off again enjoying my parsley as before.  Most people prefer the flat Italian parsley because it has more flavor but I enjoy the curly kind for its texture, especially in a salad.

Type: Biennial herb often grown as an annual.

Bloom: Small yellow flowers in spring.

Size: Curly: 8-10” H x 8-16” W; flat: 10-24” H x 12-18” W.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Hardiness: Zones 5-9.

Soil: Moderately rich, moist, well drained.

Fertilizer: When plants look yellowish feed with all purpose water soluble fertilizer.

Care: Harvest leaves with stems regularly.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to crown rot, carrot weevils, parsley worms, nematodes.

Propagation: Seed.

Companion Plants: May enhance growth of roses and tomatoes.

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