Italian Flat Leaf Parsley is a biennial plant, which means that it grows the first year and blooms the second. In cold climates, it is simply an annual, and can't winter over. Italian Flat Leaf grows to a mature height of about 15 to 18 inches tall, displaying sturdy, slender stems. At first glance, the flat leaves can look like cilantro with their deep green coloring, and deeply serrated edges.
You can grow Italian flat leaf parsley directly in your herb bed or in pots & containers, and even window boxes too. If you are pressed for gardening space, they can also be sown and grown indoors. It makes an attractive backdrop to shorter annual flowers in a flower garden and can be used as a border. Plant at least 18 inches apart; if they are too close, they can get mildew.
It likes rich, moist soil, and should be planted in sun to partial shade. In its second spring, when the white flowers appear, it will get bitter. Pull up the old plants and start new ones. It does best in temperate climates; it doesn't like serious heat and will freeze out in cold winters.
Parsleyworm caterpillars are brightly colored in green and black. They won't kill your parsley, but can quickly eat up the leaves. They grow into beautiful swallowtail butterflies. If you notice you have them but want the butterflies, just grow extra parsley.
Less enjoyable pests could include aphids, armyworm, and army cutworm.
Flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than its curly cousin, which is used more often for decoration. Italian flat leaf parsley is one of the most widely used herbs in traditional Italian cooking. It is one of the chief herbs in bouquet garni.
The entire plant is edible. The leaves are soft and are good whole or chopped, and the stems are tasty anywhere you want a bit of crunch and flavor, and hold up better to longer cooking times.
Flat leaf parsley is delicious is soups, stews, salads, stocks, fish dishes, and vegetable dishes. Add it near the end of the cooking cycle in most recipes, as long times on heat can make it lose flavor. It makes a tasty herb butter. It is high in vitamins A, C, E, and has a high iron content. Chewed fresh, it makes a good breath freshener.
To harvest, clip the leaves back to the base of the plant at any time once plants are established. They will grow back even bushier. You can store it wrapped in a damp paper towel in your fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it and keep in plastic bag in your freezer for longer. You can also dry it.
- Type: Herb
- Season: Annual
- Heirloom: Yes
- Color: Green Leaves
- Height: 15" to 18" Tall
- Width: 8" to 12" Spread
- Harvest: 40 to 60 Days
- Uses: Culinary
- Environment: Full Sunlight / Light Shade
Sowing The Seed
Parsley seeds can be started indoors, or directly outdoors. The seeds can be soaked in hot water, overnight to increase their viability. If sowing indoors, start in peat pots, 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost. Sow at a depth of 1/8” under topsoil so that direct light can still reach the seeds. Direct sow or transplant outdoors, when the weather is warm and all danger of frost has passed.
Parsley will enjoy an area of full sunlight to light shade. It does particularly well in mild temperatures of 65F to 75F. Parlsey plants will grow best with soils that are rich in organic matter. Also make sure that the soil is well drained. To improve drainage, adding a light compost to areas of hard, compact soil is best. Water the seeds daily with a light water setting to avoid overwatering and/or disrupting the seed.
Germination & Growth
Your Parsley will begin to show life within as little as 7 to 21 days after sowing. The plants will grow to a mature height of about 15 to 18 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide. Space each plant roughly 12 to 18 inches apart from one another. When the leaf stems have three segments, your Parsley is ready to be harvested. Snip the leaves from the outer portions of the plant, leaving the inner areas to mature.