Parsley in pots, secrets for growing it luxuriantly

Just a small outdoor space is all you need to grow a little parsley in pots and always have this fragrant aromatic herb to hand.

With its bright green color, parsley is one of the typical ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine: an aromatic herb capable of adding flavor to any dish, it’s also widely exploited for its benefits. For example, it contains an essential oil that stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, aiding digestion even after a heavy meal. In short, it’s an invaluable ally in any situation: why not keep some on your balcony? Here’s how to grow parsley in pots, so it’s always available, fresh and zero-km.

Parsley, plant characteristics
Parsley takes pride of place among the many aromatic herbs found in our cuisine. A small tuft is enough to flavour any dish and make it special, giving it not only a distinctive taste, but also many beneficial properties – including digestive ones, as we’ve seen. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a biennial plant belonging to the Apiacee family, which includes many other valuable ingredients such as cumin, carrot, celery, parsnip and fennel.

Native to Mediterranean regions, it grows spontaneously in woods and meadows: in appearance, it has a sturdy root and triangular leaves with serrated edges, while the flowers are white or slightly blue, grouped to form small umbels.

Growing parsley is not particularly demanding, provided you take a few precautions: for example, this plant is particularly sensitive to intense cold and heat, and grows best where the climate is temperate (in Italy, generally speaking, there are no problems).

The ideal place to plant it is therefore cool and sheltered from direct sunlight (at least during the summer season), possibly in regions where winters are fairly short and never too harsh. When it starts to get colder, you may choose to place the plant in the house, perhaps on a windowsill to provide it with the light it needs. Alternatively, if you must leave it on the balcony, mulch the soil with dry leaves or a bit of straw, to protect the roots from low temperatures.

How to plant parsley
If you have a balcony or small terrace, you can safely grow your own parsley in pots. It’s a plant that adapts well to even the smallest spaces, as it doesn’t overgrow. But how do you go about it? First of all, you’ll need to prepare everything you’ll need for sowing. Get a pot at least 20 cm in diameter (up to three small plants can grow in it), choosing one of the tallest: parsley roots grow deep and need space.

As far as soil is concerned, this aromatic herb has no special requirements. You can buy soil for horticultural crops, mixing it with a little sand. Even better, place a layer of expanded clay at the bottom of the pot to promote proper water drainage: this way, you can avoid the risk of water stagnation, one of the primary causes of plant wilting (when this happens, in fact, it’s likely that the water has rotted the roots).

Once the pot has been prepared, you can sow your parsley. When to sow? In fact, there’s no better time, just make sure that temperatures never drop below 14° / 15° C (even at night): it’s advisable to do it between March and October in warmer regions, while the time window is slightly narrower in colder locations. Now let’s look at how to plant parsley.

Move the soil a little to the surface and spread the seeds evenly over all the soil you have. Then cover with a thin layer of soil, moisten it and place the pot in sunlight. If you want to speed up the process a little, first let the seeds germinate indoors, using techniques such as germination in cotton or absorbent paper, then place them in the soil, using the same procedure as we’ve just seen.

Alternatively, you can buy a parsley plant already grown and transplant it into your pot. In this case, we talk about planting: this procedure should also be carried out when temperatures no longer fall below 15°C, i.e. generally from spring to late autumn. Simply dig a small hole in the ground and arrange the plant, then recompact everything with your hands. And now that you’ve planted parsley, all you have to do is wait for the results of your efforts: let’s discover some tips on how to grow this plant so that it grows luxuriantly.

Growing parsley in pots: tips
Taking care of a parsley plant is really quite easy. After sowing, within a few weeks you’ll see the first leaves, which will repay all your sacrifices. The first thing to do, once the plant has reached 5 cm in height, is to thin it out: prune back the smaller branches, so that those that are already better developed can receive more light, air and nourishment. Also check that there are no dry or diseased branches, in which case remove them so as not to create problems for the rest of the plant.

As for irrigation, parsley needs water – but not too much. Keep an eye on the soil, watering it before it dries out completely, otherwise you run the risk of your seedling burning (especially in summer). Be careful not to give too much water, however, as you could form stagnation that could damage the roots. The first sign of excess water is yellowing parsley leaves, which should not be underestimated.

As the plant grows, periodically prune back the weakest or sickest twigs, to make the rest even more robust and productive. Finally, the most beautiful (and long-awaited) moment: the harvest. When can it be done? Generally speaking, the plant is ready to reach 15-20 cm in height. If you only need a few leaves, cut them off with scissors if necessary. Alternatively, you can cut off a head of stems, taking care to start a few centimetres above the base of the plant, to ensure that it regenerates the following season.