How to Harvest Parsley (without damaging the plant)

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Parsley is a popular herb among gardeners as it is easy to grow in gardens. However, it is essential to harvest the parsley delicately to keep the plant healthy and promote growth. This guide explains in detail how to harvest parsley without damaging the plant.

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A bunch of freshly harvested flat leaf parsley on a white cloth.

Harvesting parsley

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is an ideal herb for garnishing soups, pasta and egg dishes, and adding a pop of color to salads. Although growing parsley is easy, it is crucial to harvest the herb carefully.

Both curly leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley) are commonly grown varieties. The approach to harvest either of them is similar.

To harvest parsley without damaging the plant, cut the leaves from the base of the stem, starting from the outside. Do not remove more than ½ the plant at a time, and give the plant enough time to recover and regrow after harvesting.

A bunch of cut parsley on a wooden board

When to harvest parsley leaves

Parsley plants can be harvested after 16 weeks of sowing the seedlings. However, you can start picking the leaves as soon as the parsley seedlings become bushy.

The best time to harvest parsley leaves is in the morning. After the dew has dried, before the day starts to heat up.

Which stems of parsley to harvest?

The stems with three or more bundles of leaves can be harvested. Avoid the ones with just one or two leaf bundles.

How to harvest parsley so it keeps growing

To keep the parsley plant healthy, cut the parsley sprigs from the outer portion of the plant and detach the entire stalk from the stem’s base near the soil.

Photo with text overlay showing where to cut parsley plant without damaging it.
Where to cut parsley plant to promote growth.

New parsley grows from the plant’s center and moves outward, so removing the oldest growth by cutting the herb from the outside and removing the entire stalk creates room for the newer growth, thereby stimulating new growth and reinvigorating a leggy parsley plant.

To harvest parsley without damaging the plant, use a sharp pair of clean kitchen shears or scissors to make a clean cut. This helps to prevent damage or disease.

After harvesting, keep the soil moist while the plant recovers.

How to store fresh-cut parsley

To keep harvested parsley fresh, store it between moist paper towels in the refrigerator or stand the stems in a glass of water. It can last for a few weeks. You may also freeze it by chopping and freezing it in olive oil in an ice-cube tray.

For more details on storing parsley, check out this guide: How to store fresh parsley.

Drying parsley is also a straightforward process, and dried parsley retains its flavor well. For more details on drying parsley, check out this guide: How to Dry Parsley


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