How to Harvest Parsley and Keep It Healthy

With bright green leaves and a refreshing flavor, parsley is a must-grow herb. If you want to keep plants productive and healthy, know how to harvest parsley and avoid overharvesting, which can cause plant stress and impaired growth.

Whether you grow parsley from seeds or nursery starts, this guide will help you time your parsley harvest to perfection.

Learn how to harvest parsley the right way to keep your plants healthy and your kitchen brimming with fresh herbs.

When to Harvest Parsley

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Parsley is typically harvested from spring through fall either as a cut-and-come-again herb or in larger quantities for freezing or drying. However, if plants are grown indoors in pots, parsley can be harvested in winter, too.

Fast-growing and adaptable, parsley can be kept in container gardens or larger herb beds and harvested just 70 days after sowing parsley seeds—nursery-started plants can be picked even earlier.

Note that harvesting parsley too early can be detrimental to plant health, so it’s best to wait until plants are at least 6” tall and have well-formed leaves with at least 3 leaf segments before harvesting.

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How to Harvest Parsley the Right Way

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  1. Harvest parsley in the morning. Parsley can technically be harvested at any time of the day, but if you want to get the best flavor out of your plants, pick parsley in the morning before the sun is high overhead. Parsley leaves contain the highest concentration of flavorful oils at this time of the day.
  2. Cut or pinch entire stems. Gather the parsley stems you’d like to harvest with one hand and cut or pinch the entire stems off just above the soil line with your fingers or a sharp pair of kitchen shears. Harvesting the entire stem will rejuvenate plants and encourage new growth.
  3. Work around the exterior of the plant. Parsley plants produce new leaves towards the center of the plant, so harvest the leaves around the exterior of the plant first. This will refresh the look of your parsley and prevent older leaves from going to waste.
  4. Don’t overharvest. Young parsley plants should be harvested sparingly by clipping off just a few stems at a time. Older plants, on the other hand, can be picked a bit more aggressively, but avoid harvesting more than 1/3 of your plant at once.
  5. Repeat. Parsley is a fast-growing herb that can be harvested again and again throughout the season as needed for recipes. Established plants can be harvested daily in small quantities, but it’s best to give plants a week or two to recover in between harvests if you gather a lot of parsley stems at once or harvest from young plants. Remember, frequent harvesting encourages parsley plants to produce even more leaves.

How to Keep Parsley Growing for Years

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Parsley is a biennial herb that only grows for two years even with the best of care. As a result, many gardeners grow parsley as an annual and sow new parsley seeds every spring.

But, parsley plants can be overwintered and harvested in the spring of their second year if desired. If you’d like to harvest second-year parsley plants, overwinter your parsley indoors or harvest your plants in early fall before the stems die back in cold weather.

Outdoor parsley will lie dormant in gardens through winter and begin to grow new leaves in spring, while indoor plants can continue to grow through the winter months.

Once parsley starts to produce new leaves in spring, harvest the stems regularly until the plant starts to bolt or flower. When flowering begins, it’s best to harvest the entire plant as bolting changes the flavor of parsley leaves.

But if you want to gather parsley seeds for future planting, let your plants flower and gather the dried seeds when the parsley flowers fade.


  • Parsley will regrow quickly after cutting as long as plants aren’t harvested too aggressively. To avoid overharvesting, wait until plants are at least 6” tall to start harvesting and never pick more than 1/3 of your parsley plant’s stems at once.

  • Whether you let parsley flower or not is a matter of personal choice. Pinching back flower buds can extend your harvest of parsley leaves a bit longer; however, parsley flowers are useful for companion planting and they eventually mature into parsley seeds.

  • Unlike many herbs, parsley is a biennial plant that will not come back every year. Even with the best of care, parsley will only live two years before going to seed.

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