Is Italian parsley a perennial? What can I do to protect it during the winter?
Hardiness Zone: 9a
d.fostrer from Portland, OR
Although many gardeners grow Italian parsley as an annual and some seed catalogs list it as an annual, it's actually a biennial (it flowers the second year). The best foliage appears during the first season of growth, as second season foliage tends to "bolt" and go to seed rather quickly as soon as summer heat arrives. Italian parsley is considered hardy to zone 5. If you want to try over-wintering it outdoors for a second season, just cover the plant with 3-4 inches of loose mulch after it dies back in the fall. You can also pot it up and bring it inside as temperatures start to cool and keep it in a garage or basement, but it's usually not necessary. Italian Parsley is easy to grow indoors and makes a nice herb for sunny kitchen windows. Just make sure to keep their soil consistently moist (not wet) and turn the pot often to encourage even growth. The seeds like moist, nutrient-rich soil, so covering the pot with plastic or the top of a cut off soda bottle works best to get them started. As the plants grow, pinch them back to prevent them from getting leggy. Freeze parsley in a plastic bag or harvest it and use it as needed.
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Parsley is a biennial, which means it will grow for two years before needing to be planted again. I usually just shake some of the seeds (from the plants when they go to seed) down onto the soil to make sure it continues to come up.