I recently received a question from a reader about the size container for growing parsley for continuous harvest. And as I like getting questions from readers, I hope this article will result in a few more questions.
Now, parsley is one of those herbs that takes patience to start from seeds. But it is well worth the effort and done right; you can harvest parsley all season long.
This year I am growing Curly Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum “Orfeo”) and Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum Gigante d’Italia).
This article summarizes my answers and will be updated with photos as we go along, so please bookmark or sign up for our newsletter to follow the progress.
- Choosing a suitable container for parsley
- Potting Soil Selection
- Selecting which parsley varieties to grow
- Summary size container for parsley
Choosing a suitable container for parsley
Many home gardeners make the mistake of choosing a wide and shallow container—the idea is to maximize the growing area.
But much like cilantro (coriander), parsley develops a delicate root system with a central taproot that needs at least 6-8 inches in depth to grow and stay healthy.
And if you plan to grow more than one plant in each container, as I often do, space the groups of seeds about 15 centimeters (6 inches) apart.
Parsley seeds can take up to 4 weeks to germinate, and the germination rate is poor. Plant 5-10 seeds in groups and thin the seedlings later as needed.
To summarize, at least 15-20 cm / 6-8 inches deep and as wide as needed to allow a minimum of 15 centimeters (6 inches) between plants.
Types and materials of the container
You can use most materials if the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to run off.
I often start several smaller-sized pots or containers a week or two apart. This type of staggered planting allows me to harvest continuously as there is always parsley to harvest, but only what we can use.
- Plastic Containers: Lightweight, affordable, and available in various shapes and sizes.
- Ceramic or Clay Containers: More stylish but also more expensive. The porous material helps with water management as the material breathes, thereby improving soil aeration and root growth.
- Grow bags (fabric): The breathable fabric promotes healthier root development and drainage. Great for outdoors but less suitable for indoor gardening.
To summarize, plastic pots are convenient and inexpensive, and as long as they have proper drainage holes and sufficient depth for root development, they will work great.
Potting Soil Selection
When you have chosen your containers or pots, it is time to decide on a growing medium. And for me, potting soil mixes are the obvious choice as they are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
Using bio-degradable peat pots will allow you to plant them directly into the ground or a bigger container once the parsley outgrows its starter pot. This ensures you do not disturb the parsley plant’s delicate root system when moving the plant between containers.
To summarize, use a well-draining potting soil mix containing a combination of the following:
- Peat (provides moisture retention)
- Perlite (improves drainage and aeration)
- Coconut coir (improves drainage and aeration)
- Vermiculite (enhances moisture retention, drainage, and aeration)
- Compost (adds essential nutrients)
Fill the container with potting soil mix up to 3 cm / 1 inch below the rim to create room for watering and top-up of soil after planting.
If you are worried about overwatering, I recommend mixing a handful of perlite into the potting soil mix.
Selecting which parsley varieties to grow
This is the fun part. I recommend you always choose one flat-leafed parsley and one curly-leafed parsley variety.
I have decided to grow Curly Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum “Orfeo”) and Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum Gigante d’Italia).
Curly Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum “Orfeo”)
The Curly Leaf Parsley, also known as Petroselinum Crispum “Orfeo,” is characterized by its crisp, curly leaves and is popular in French cuisine. Traditionally used for garnish, I use curly parsley in wet rubs, marinades, salads, salsa verdes, and so on.
Orfeo is a medium-sized parsley that grows about 20 cm / 8 inches tall.
The Orfeo parsley variety is milder in taste and is perfect for cold salads and fish dishes where you want a layer of flavor rather than a bold statement.
I plant the Orfeo Curly Leaf Parsley in plastic containers that are:
- At least 6 inches deep to provide sufficient space for root growth.
- Large enough to hold several plants with at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) between plants.
- Well-draining with proper drainage holes
Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum Gigante d’Italia)
My chosen Flat Leaf Parsley, Petroselinum Crispum Gigante d’Italia, is known for its flat, large, broad leaves and robust flavor. Perfect for all types of cooking, including sauces, soups, and salads.
Gigante d’Italia is a larger-sized parsley that grows about 50 cm / 20 inches tall.
I plant the Gigante d’Italia Flat Leaf Parsley in several individual terracotta pots that are:
- At least 8 inches deep as the root system grows larger
- Well-draining to promote healthy roots
There are many parsley varieties, and you should choose a type to suit your preferences and growing conditions.
Remember to check the size of the variety you choose. Larger plants mean larger root systems, meaning you need to use deeper pots.
Grow Lights when growing parsley indoors
Parsley can be grown year-round but requires plenty of light to thrive indoors during the darker times of the year.
During spring and summer, it is sufficient to place your container near a sunny window with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily.
But come fall and winter, or if your living space lacks sufficient natural light, you must use grow lights to be successful.
The good news is that there are several grow light alternatives to suit all budgets and growing styles. My best tip is to start small and purchase an inexpensive, energy-efficient, full-spectrum grow light.
Connect the grow light to a timer and set a lighting schedule where the lights are on for 16 hours, followed by 8 hours of darkness. Placing the grow light 3 inches above your plants will provide optimal light exposure.
If the grow light generates noticeable heat, move it further away from the plants. You want light, not direct heat.
Summary size container for parsley
Use a pot or container with drainage holes and a depth of at least 6 inches. Plant seeds shallow in groups of 5-10 in well-draining potting soil.
You need to be patient as parsley takes up to 4 weeks to germinate and suffers from a poor germination rate.
Maintain constant soil moisture and do not let the seeds dry out.