How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant? Master Parsley Harvesting

Harvesting parsley may seem like a straightforward task, yet ensuring the plant’s longevity is a delicate process many gardeners strive for.

This article provides an informative guide on how to harvest parsley without killing the plant. Throughout, you’ll receive tangible advice about optimal harvesting times, sustainable techniques, and care tips post-harvest. By following these guidelines, you can look forward to continual yields

How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant? Complete Guide

How do you know when parsley is ready to harvest?

The easiest way to know that your parsley plant is ready to be harvested is by checking out the state of its leaves. The parsley plant shows you when it can be picked by the number of leaf clusters growing from its stems.

If the stem has 3 or more leaf clusters growing on that stem, then those leaves are ripe for the picking. Anything less than 3 clusters per stem hasn’t matured enough yet, and you should let them grow until they produce 3.

Using this method, you’re essentially harvesting the outside growth which has matured. As a rule of thumb, most parsley plants can be ready to be harvested from 70-90 days after they are first planted.

How do you know when parsley is ready to harvest?

How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant?

Knowing how to harvest parsley without killing is quite an easy process. On the other hand, harvesting parsley without killing the plant requires some extra knowledge. You shouldn’t have any problems if you have some basic pruning skills alongside a keen eye for detail.

The key to a successful harvest is ensuring that the plant is trimmed so that continual regrowth is encouraged. Having the right tool(s) for the job is also important. Making sure that your cuts are clean will help reduce the risk of damaging the plant, allowing it to continue to thrive.

A small, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears are ideal for the job. 

How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant?
How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant?

As we mentioned earlier, parsley gives a strong visual indication of when it can be harvested. Once this time arrives, the next question is how much you want to harvest. 

  • If you want just a small amount of parsley, it’s better to trim back the outer sections of the plant, leaving the inner stems intact. Again, this is all about regeneration, hence the placement of removal. Start with the leaves at the tips and work down until you have enough. 
  • If you require a large amount, removing almost an entire stem or stems down to its base is much more beneficial. Start with the outer stems and work your way in. 

You should only harvest younger parsley plants as they are more flavorful and have better quality leaves. The older plants are more suited for their seeds. Another tip is to continue to harvest as much as required on the plant’s first cycle.

They generally grow for 2 years, but the first year produces a heap of leaves that store all of its energy for the following year. Those leaves are bursting with flavor in that first year. As the second year rolls through, stalks will start popping up and producing flowers, sadly where that biennial plant’s life cycle closes in. 

Some other harvesting suggestions include:

  • When removing the outer stems, try to keep the inner stems and their leaves intact. If you plan to trim back a considerable amount, leave ½ to ⅔ of the entire stem region to allow regeneration. 
  • Cut the stalks from the bottom and try to avoid leaving long stalks with leaves at the top. This will only slow down the regrowth process.
  • Give the plant around 2-3 weeks to regenerate. As long as you trimmed them correctly, they will often flourish even better than they were before cutting back. 
How to Harvest Parsley Without Killing the Plant?

Understandably, there is some contradictory information when it comes to harvesting. Cut down to the base, leave ½-⅔, etc., but it’s all about where you cut these lengths that matters. So try to think about how much you require and gauge your harvest points using the lengths as your guide. 

How do you dry, store and use parsley?

Being the versatile herb that parsley is, storing it can be a little challenging. Quite often, when we buy store-bought parsley, the bunches are pretty big, so it’s not easy to get through all of it before it goes bad. This seems like a waste of money.

How do you dry, store and use parsley?

In addition, maybe you have managed to harvest too much at once and fall into the same issue. Wastage. Let’s look at how to not only clean your parsley but also store it fresh or dry it out to use later on.

Cleaning your parsley

I use parsley religiously, and when I clean it, I try to avoid anything that isn’t natural. I stumbled across a way to clean off any fresh produce and have never looked back since. To do so, mix 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar with 6 cups of water in a bowl that is big enough to hold the amount of whatever you’re cleaning. Use the ‘dunk and swish’ method.

This is where you dunk a whole bouquet into the water mix and swish it to allow the mix to do its magic. Follow that with a rinse-off using clean water, draining in a colander.

Storing it fresh

As soon as you have cleaned your parsley, layout either a kitchen towel or some paper towel. Spread out enough parsley in an even layer over the towel. (It’s ok if the herb is still a bit wet) Roll the towel with the parsley inside as if you were packing down a sleeping bag.

Put the rolled towel inside a sealable plastic bag. Lay the bag in the fridge. This method will keep the parsley fresh for 1-2 weeks. As long as the parsley wasn’t dripping wet when rolled, the leftover moisture will keep it fresher.

Drying it out

If you prefer your parsley to be dry, this method works perfectly and requires very little effort. Dried parsley is great for rubs, dressings, and soup garnishes. Simply take your newly washed springs and tie a piece of string or thin rope around the base of the stems (about 1 inch from the very bottom).

Ensure the string/rope is long enough to be tied around something while hanging upside down.

How do you dry, store and use parsley?
How do you dry, store and use parsley?

A warm and dark but well-ventilated area is ideal. To reduce the dust settling on your harvest, you can put a paper bag over the whole head of the parsley while they dry out. This process takes around 7-15 days to complete. After this period, check to see the leaves crumble between your fingers. Store in an airtight container. This method will prolong the life of your parsley by 6-8 weeks. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is my parsley bitter?

The older leaves of the parsley produce a more bitter taste. They can often be distinguished by a yellow to brown appearance. They can also be green, but they will start to discolor as they age. The color change can be caused by stressors such as higher temperatures, drought, and pressure from pests. The younger ones are the best for a more full and aromatic flavor.

How to Harvest Parsley Seeds?

Parsley is more likely to seed in their second growth year. They are biennial, meaning they have 2 years of growth. The first year produces leaves, and the second year produces flowers and seeds in most cases. When they form their flowers, they start seeding once the flowers begin to fade out. This will typically occur in the growth year’s late summer into early autumn.

Does parsley come back every year?

Parsley will not come back every year. It is a biennial herb, so they have 2 years of growth. The first year produces leaves, and the second produces flowers and seeds. 


Parsley is not only great tasting, but it’s extremely healthy. It has been known to help fight cancer, promote a healthy heart, build strong bones and protect against arthritis. Parsley is one of the easiest herbs to grow, and harvesting methods are super simple if you have a bit of general pruning knowledge. 

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