Parsley root (Petroselinum crispum), also known as Dutch parsley, Hamburg parsley and rooted parsley, shouldn’t be confused with the related leaf parsley. If you plant curly or Italian flat leaf parsley expecting a big edible root, you will be disappointed. If you plant parsley root, however, you’ll get a big parsnip-like root, as well as greens, that can be harvested and regrown throughout the summer. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow parsley root.
What is Parsley Root?
Though its root sets it apart, parsley root is indeed a variety of parsley. Parsley is a member of the carrot family, which goes a long way to explain its appearance. Although its root could be mistaken for a parsnip or a white carrot, its flavor is most similar to celery. Its texture is dry like a parsnip, however, and it can be cooked like one.
The leaves are broader and tougher than those of herb parsley varieties, and their flavor is stronger and a bit more bitter. They’re great for garnish, or as an herb when you want a bold taste.
How to Grow Parsley Root
Parsley root plants can be grown from seed. The roots need a long growing season to develop, so start them indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost date if you live in an area with hard winters. Germination can take as long as 3 weeks, so soak the seeds for 12 hours in warm water first to help it along.
When your parsley root plants are 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall, harden them off outdoors, then transplant them when all risk of frost has passed. In hot areas without frost, plant your parsley root plants during the cool season in autumn, winter, or early spring.
Growing parsley root plants like rich loamy soil and frequent watering. They can also be grown in containers provided they are deep enough to accommodate the long roots.
Parsley root harvesting happens in phases. If you’re after the leaves, cut the outer stalks off at ground level to encourage new growth. Always leave the inner stalks in place.
At the end of the growing season, dig up the entire plant and separate the stalks from the root. Store the root in damp sand or peat and freeze or dry the leaves.