How to grow and care for curly parsley

Most popular as a garnish, curly leaf parsley is a decorative and delicious vibrant green herb that’s perfect for pots or garden beds. Popular as an edging plant in raised planters of ornate vegie arrangements, curly parsley has a place in every garden, big or small.

What you need to know about curly parsley

Name: parsley, curly parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Plant type: biennial herb

Height: 20–30cm

Climate: all climates.

Soil: enrich the soil with compost and decomposed manure.

Position: full sun to part shade.

Flowering and fruiting: N/A.

Feeding: apply seaweed solution or an organic liquid fertiliser regularly.

Watering: regular watering required, especially during hot, dry weather.

close up of curly parsley leaves

Appearance and characteristics of curly parsley

With a slightly more bitter flavour than Italian flat leaf parsley, curly parsley is more often used as a garnish or decoration than a flavouring, although both parsleys are readily interchangeable and flavoursome.

Uses for curly parsley

Decorative and delicious, curly parsley can be grown as an edging plant along a path or the front of your vegie garden. Great in pots too, parsley is perfect for gardens big or small. 

Add curly parsley to cooking at the end to maximise flavour, or use fresh in salads.

How to plant and grow curly parsley

  1. Select a position in full sun and improve soil prior to planting with compost and decomposed manure. If growing from seed, refrigerate for 2 weeks, then soak for a few hours in hot water prior to planting.

  2. Sow seed in a punnet to monitor germination, or directly on the soil surface if you are happy with a more natural germination pattern. Do not plant too deeply, as seed will struggle to germinate. Apply snail and slug pellets at sowing.

  3. Parsley can also be grown from punnets or pots planted out into an improved soil. Over time these plants will set seed, which is fine if you have chosen a garden bed where you are happy for parsley to naturalise.

  4. If growing in pots, select an organic premium potting mix, as you should for all container-grown edibles.


Caring for curly parsley

Easy to grow, parsley prefers full sun and regular water. Protect from snails and slugs and apply a seaweed solution regularly during establishment to maintain optimal plant health.

Do not let the soil dry out, as this can cause parsley to prematurely run to seed. Water every second day, or daily if growing in pots, especially during hot, dry weather. Apply a seaweed solution at planting and a complete fertiliser in spring and autumn.

How and when to prune curly parsley

Although pruning is not required, regular harvesting keeps plants compact, healthy and vigorous. Never remove more than half the plant at a time, selecting the outer leaves first, then working your way inwards towards the nearest growth.

Diseases and pests

Protect seedlings from snails and slugs with pet-friendly snail and slug pellets or snail traps.

How to propagate curly parsley

Parsley is readily propagated by seed. Seed is produced in its second year, just before the plants die off.

  1. Allow the seed heads to ripen as much as possible on the plant, without losing the seed.

  2. As soon as the seed darkens from green to brown, cut the seed heads from the parsley, and lay on a tray indoors for a couple of days to allow the seed to fully ripen before removing from the seed heads.

  3. Place the heads in a paper bag and shake to remove the seed.

  4. Store seed in a clearly named envelope.

If you like this then try

Italian flat-leaf parsley: a more flavoursome version of parsley that’s perfect for cooking.

Mint: a vigorous herb that pairs well with parsley to make tabbouleh.  

Spring onion: a milder form of onion that readily spices up salads. 

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