Italian flat leaf parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) may look unassuming but add it to soups and stews, stocks and salads, and you add a fresh flavor and color that makes the dish. Growing Italian parsley in the garden or in a window box will allow the home cook to harness the lively flavor of this plant. Try growing Italian parsley indoors as it does better than curly leaved parsley. You can also learn how to grow Italian parsley outside in the kitchen garden.
What Does Italian Parsley Look Like?
Even the foodie with moderate herbal knowledge may wonder, what does Italian parsley look like? This 6 to 12 inch (15-31 cm.) tall plant has sturdy, slender stems topped with flat, deeply divided leaves. The leaves are soft and pliable and useful whole or chopped. In fact, the entire stem is good cut up and used in chicken salad or other places where celery or some crunchy vegetable would be appropriate. You can even use Italian flat leaf parsley roots in salads or sautés.
Types of Italian Parsley Herbs
There are several cultivars of Italian flat leaf parsley:
- Gigante Catalogno is a large leaved variety.
- Italian Dark Green has deep green leaves with a strong flavor and Italian plain leaf, which is the fastest growing type.
- Giant of Naples is another larger variety.
Whichever variety you choose, know the proper conditions for growing Italian parsley and you’ll have a biennial herb that is useful for years.
How to Grow Italian Parsley
Italian parsley herbs require temperate conditions. They don’t perform well in extremely hot areas and are prone to freezing back in cold climates. Choose a sunny site in well-draining soil with plenty of organic amendment.
If you’re planting several plants together, allow at least 18 inches (36 cm.) between them to prevent mildew from forming on the leaves.
Potted plants thrive in a window with indirect light, no drafts, and comfortable household temperatures.
Growing Italian Parsley from Seed
Italian parsley is started outdoors after all danger of frost has passed, or inside six to eight weeks before the last expected frost. Use a fine mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and sand. Cover with 1/8 inch (3 mm.) fine dusting of soil, and keep the seeds misted and lightly moist. Thin seedlings to 10 to 12 inches (25-31 cm.) apart.
Care of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
Allow the soil to dry out partially between watering. Water deeply approximately once per week and allow excess moisture to drain out.
Fertilize plants in the ground in early spring with a balanced fertilizer. Potted plants may be fertilized monthly with a half dilution of liquid plant food.
Trim what you need, taking the stems back to the core of the plant. If your plant is skinny and spindly, try moving it to a brighter area. Cut off any blooms as they occur, as this will cause the plant to seed and leaf production to diminish.