How To Prune Parsley & Promote More Growth

Last updated: 10/29/21

Maybe you started a new passion – growing your own herbs and vegetables. I’ve had a couple of parsley failures in the past, but that was due to lack of knowledge. One of the easiest herbs you can grow that will last you all season is fresh parsley plants.

With just a little care and knowledge, you can produce parsley plants that you can use in your cooking that will last all season long. Whether you’re growing a parsley plant in an herb garden or you divide parsley into individual pots; parsley plants are easy to grow and prune.

You can even grow a small pot of parsley plant intact in your kitchen for easily accessible parsley leaves that you can harvest while you cook.

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Time Your Parsley Trimming | When to Prune Parsley?

So you’ve been growing your parsley, that you’ve either started by seed or young plant, but you need know know how to keep your foliage looking fresh and keep growing new parsley leaves, the answer to that is pruning.

How to you know when to prune your parsley plants? When will your parsley be at it’s full flavor?

Let me help you with the rewards you get when you grow parsley.

Parsley plants are a biennial herb. A biennial plant is one that will grow for two years before it goes to seed in the right environment.

Having said that, most people treat parsley as an annual plant and start fresh each spring.

It is completely up to you whether you want to keep your plants as an annual or let the parsley grow for a second year.

  • Parsley plants are one of the fastest-growing leafy herbs and regular pruning is very important to maintain new parsley growth. After pruning, it will reach it’s full growth again after two to three weeks. So you’ll be pruning parsley frequently.
  • Remember that new growth of the parsley plant comes from underneath, toward the center of the plant, so by frequent pruning, you are encouraging new parsley growth that won’t be overcrowded and can get adequate sunlight.
pruning parsley best tutorial
  • Keep in mind that an overcrowded plant can create a humid environment for the new parsley plant growth and lead to fungal pathogens that can spread throughout your plant. This is important to remember. If that happens to you, you might want to start over with some fresh starts. Keep up on your pruning or you may be upset with yourself. 
  • Parsley is at its full flavor when the plant stems are about six inches tall and have the bright green color. So that is a great time to harvest your parsley and use it in some yummy food. Two other options to store for future at this point include drying your parsley or you can even freeze it. This way you can use your extra parsley plant all year round and you’ll never have to buy dry parsley in the grocery store.
  • A few things you want to do is to check for any yellowing leaves. Leaves with bright colors are the most flavorful. You want to cut the yellowing leaves and flowers back first. I would check for yellowing plant leaves at every week or two. Just toss the yellowing leaves because they will not have to the freshest flavor. You want beautiful green foliage for the best flavor.

Check out this video to see to prune parsley.

Best Way on How to Prune Parsley

Frequent trimming keeps your plants the healthiest. Now that you know when to prune your parsley plant, what is the best way to prune it? 

Pinch Or Prune?

There are two ways to prune any type of herbs. You can pinch it off with your fingers or use a sharp pair of pruning shears or kitchen shears. You do not want to tear it off. By cutting or pinching versus tearing your plant, it keeps the stalks healthiest for new plant growth. 

More Growth

Always leave 1/2 to 2/3 of the leafy stems when you cut parsley. This is best as the parsley plants grow back much more healthy. 

Start with the outer stems with three or more segments and work your way toward the center of the plant. Remember the outer part is the oldest part of the plant so you want to prune that about an inch in that section first. This will help you encourage new plant growth.

Don’t Forget This

Make sure you don’t just pinch off the plant leaves, even though this is what most people use. Parsley grows best when cut back on the inner stems. Plus the stems have lots of good flavor to them.

If you don’t take part of the stem, then the stem will dry out and won’t regrow and you want your plant to keep growing all season long. If you do just pinch off a leaf, it will dry in just a few days, so go ahead and trim that stem down.

Prevent Flowering

Frequent trimming to cut back your parsley also helps to keep the plant from going to seed. Being one of the fastest growing herbs, it grow very fast. Your goal is to produce lots of parsley for cooking and to store for the winter months. Check if your plant needs to be pruned every couple of weeks.

7 Parsley Growing Tips For More Growth

  1. Start with strong seedlings that are not leggy parsley plants. Fixing leggy parsley plants is easy by transplanting all the stems deeper, but it might not be as healthy. Parsley plants grow best using a strong light as a seedling.
  2. Keep your plant adequately watered and happy! Dry and dropping plants are not good. Well maintained growth of parsley produces good plants.
  3. It’s also just as important not to over water your plants. Flooded soil is not healthy for any plants so be sure to have well draining soil.
  4. Make sure your parsley plant is in moist, well-turned soil. Parsley can be grown in either full sun or partial shade. 
  5. Make sure you prune the outer leaves often to encourage that new growth. The growth means that your plant is healthy and thriving.
  6. While most people consider parsley to be annual plants, if you chose to do biennial planting, you will see flower buds or flower stalk at the end of the second year and the parsley plant can produce seeds to harvest for the next year’s planting.
  7. Should you see any buds during your first year, make your that you pinch them off. That way, it won’t flower & seed too soon.

Ways To Use Fresh Parsley Plant Leaves After You Harvest Them

Here’s the yummy part, how to use all those sprigs of parsley that you’ve been harvesting. The days of just using parsley as a garnish on your plate is gone.

Parsley is so versatile and a popular herb and there are so many ways to use it.

Once you start experimenting with parley, I’m sure you’ll find many ways to incorporated in your favorite dishes.

  • Most people use the just leaves and that is what would stores well. Did you know that you can also use the entire stems and leaves in your dishes and they are packed with flavor?
  • Don’t forget to use it in your favorite Italian dishes. Toss some in with your oregano, basil and other herbs in your spaghetti sauce.
how to prune parsley guide
  • Garnish fresh fish dishes with some parsley and other herbs that will add more flavor to your meal. 
  • Stores your the entire plant or just the parsley leaves in a tight container or you can freeze them in ice cube trays with a little water or even some oil oil. 
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Final Thoughts

Learning how to prune parsley is fairly easy. The best part when you harvest parsley is you can add it it leaf stems to your flavorful dishes straight out of the garden. Its fresh flavor in your cooked dishes will definitely highlight your feast.

Keep it real and keep growing parsley.

Green Thumb Gardener
parsley pruning beginner guide
Jeremy Starke

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