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Solve The Mystery Of Your Parsley Turning Yellow

Did you just go into your herb garden to pluck some fresh parsley leaves and see your parsley turning yellow? Then don’t worry, as we are here to help you identify the cause as well as to tell you about ways to revive the greenery and make parsley healthy and happy again. The most common reasons for parsley leaves going yellow are improper watering, lack of sunlight, too many nutrients, poor potting mix, too much heat, etc. 

Keep reading to first know about the common reasons behind yellow parsley leaves, and ways to identify the cause and then we will move towards the easy fixes. 

What can be the reasons for parsley turning yellow

Today, we will discuss the following factors that may contribute to parsley leaves turning yellow:

  • Overwatering
  • Underwatering
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Too much heat
  • Diseases and pests

Let us now know the signs of these problems, what they lead to, and how to fix them.

parsley turning yellow

 1. Overwatering

You may see parsley turning yellow because of overwatering the plant. The soil should not be too wet, but feel moist all the time. The first sign of too much water in the tray or container is the pot feeling heavy.

The extra amount of water will cause root rot and fungal problems. The roots will turn brown or black in color and die after smelling off due to fungal rot. If you suspect the signs of overwatering, then dig out the parsley plant to inspect its roots. If all roots have already become black, then there is no way to save the plant. But if you see some white and healthy roots, then you can save the plant. 

Rub alcohol on a bypass pruner using alcohol and trim off the affected roots. Clean the pot and replace the potting soil. It is also good to soak in a mixture of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach to sterilize it. 

Rinse the pot with clean water after an hour and let it dry. Then add a batch of potting soil and place the parsley plant roots at the center by making space in the potting soil. Cover the roots with more soil. Use a bypass pruner to trim away the unwanted leaves and branches. Water the plant thoroughly till you see water running out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Water the parsley plant when you feel the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. 

parsley turning yellow

2. Underwatering

You would see parsley turning yellow if you don’t water it sufficiently. The yellow leaves would feel dry and you could identify them by this sign. The best formula to know whether it is time for watering the parsley is to check the soil, if the top 1-2 inches feel dry, then your parsley plants need to be watered. Water them thoroughly till you see water coming out through the drainage holes. 

You can also invest in a self-watering container so you won’t have to water the plants or you can set you a drip irrigation system with a timer to water the parsley when they need watering and give them the right amount of watering.

3. Lacking sunlight

Parsley plants grow best in full sun with more than 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. You would see the leaves turning yellow if they don’t get the right amount of sunlight. Parsley needs light to carry out photosynthesis and this is what keeps the leaves green. 

The right place to put parsley plants is where they would get sufficient sunlight, don’t plant them near a fence, tall plant, or a wall to cause shade on them outdoors. When planting indoors, grow them near a sunny window or provide artificial grow lights for the plants.

parsley turning yellow

4. Nutrient deficiency

The long tap roots of parsley help it absorb nutrients deep from the soil. But when grown in a pot, you must provide it with nutrients as the roots cannot extract many nutrients. Parsley turning yellow is a result of nutrient deficiency sometimes in the potted parsley plants. When preparing the soil for growing parsley, add some compost in it or add a slow-release fertilizer rich in nitrogen to promote the growth of parsley leaves.

When the plant is established, fertilize the plant with slow-release fertilizer every month or add a little compost.

5. Excessive fertilizing

Nitrogen in the fertilizers can burn the roots of parsley plants, resulting in a stressed plant and lack of nutrients in the plant causing parsley turning yellow. Follow the instructions for how and when to use the fertilizer before applying it to the plant. 

It is better to add organic fertilizers to the potted parsley plants as they create a lesser risk of burning the parsley roots.

6. Heat burn

Parsley being a cool-season plant grows best in early spring or late fall with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You should grow potted parsley after the last frost or you can grow them even earlier if you sprout and grow the seeds indoors. 

When temperatures rise above 80 degrees, the parsley plants become stressed and bold with parsley turning yellow. To avoid the problem of high temperatures, grow parsley in the right season and put the potted parsley in a shaded place when temperatures start to rise. You can also bring the potted parsley indoors or cover them with a row cover to provide shade from intense sunlight.

7. Pest and disease problems

If attacked by pests such as spider mites and aphids, the leaves of potted parsley start to turn yellow as the bugs suck the plant’s sap to get all the nutrients. Look for signs of bug infestation and spray them with water to dislodge the insects into the soil. 

Excessive watering and inadequate sunlight can also cause disease problems. Humid conditions promote the growth of fungi such as Botrytis, which causes parsley turning yellow.  Avoid putting the plant in humid conditions and only water the base of the plant. Also, cut some leaves and branches to prevent the plant from getting dense and reduce the airflow. Avoid growing too many parsley plants together or in a small pot.

What are the ways to make the parsley green again?

If you now know the reason for your parsley turning yellow, you must also know about some ways to fix this issue and revive the lush green color of parsley in the herb garden.

1. Trim the outer yellow leaves

Most of the time, there are yellow leaves only at the edges, where the plant meets the soil. Cutting off the yellow leaves will bring out the inner green and healthy leaves.

2. Trim the old stems when you transplant it

When you plant parsley, remember to not bury the stems very deep in the soil as it can make the roots outgrow their space. They may even be suffocated by the soil around them and get damaged while trying to make space for themselves. The leaves can start to turn yellow after you plant your parsley and expose the roots.

parsley turning yellow

3. Transplant carefully

The best time to transplant parsley is in early spring to fall. Make the soil moist but not too wet when you plant your parsley. Never overwater the plants, particularly right after planting. You should keep the newly transplanted plants away from direct sunlight for 3-4 days to let them adjust to their new environments without getting sunburns.

4. Cut the yellow leaves at the bottom

Always cut off the damaged leaves at their exact base where the main stem meets the soil. You should follow this for both the roots and the leaves, simply cut them off where you see damaged or yellowed parts.

5. Add sand or vermiculite to dilute the soil mixture

If overwatering is the problem causing the parsley leaves to lose their color, then a good thing you can do is dilute the potting soil by adding other products, such as vermiculite and sand. This improves air circulation with carbon dioxide and oxygen to make the plant healthier.

6. Expose the parsley roots to more light

Parsley is a sun-loving plant and if it doesn’t receive the right amount of sunlight and air circulation, then the leaves start to turn yellow as they struggle for sunlight. When you plant parsley, ensure that no pebbles or gravel are at the bottom part of the pot. This protects the roots from getting exposed and too wet and also makes sure the roots get as much sunlight as possible.

parsley turning yellow

7. Add garden compost and humus

To make a barrier between the plant roots and the soil, use compost or humus to make sure the plant doesn’t lose its nutrients. Otherwise, the soil may penetrate the root system and absorb the valuable nutrients that were left by its dead plants. By using this method, you can make the roots absorb as much of the soil nutrients as possible till they grow fully and are ready to be transplanted.

8. Use a fine spray to water the parsley

Water the parsley plant carefully and never overwater them as it can damage the roots and eventually kill your plant. Use a fine spray or soft stream to lead to a healthier parsley plant with fewer yellow leaves. 

Are you also growing mint in your herb garden and struggling with mint leaves turning brown? Then read this to help you solve this problem: 2023 Garden Revival: (Save Mint Leaves turning brown)

Should I wait for the yellow parsley leaves to become green again?

Almost all parsley plants have yellow leaves initially after transplanting. If you care for your parsley plants properly, then these yellow leaves disappear and the plant grows healthy green leaves within a couple of weeks or so. It continues to grow lush green leaves all through the summer and into the winter.

Is yellow parsley okay to eat?

If you see parsley turning yellow, then it is better to trim the yellow leaves and discard them. The yellow leaves are safe to eat, but they generally lose all their taste and culinary value, so it’s better to throw them away.

yellow parsley okay to eat

Is it good to water indoor parsley every day?

If you grow parsley indoors, then it is good to water it thoroughly once or twice every week. You should keep the soil damp to a depth of about two inches. Before the next thorough watering, let the soil become mostly dry.

Can parsley survive in too much sunlight?

Hot temperatures during the summer afternoons can scorch the leaves, but parsley usually thrives in full sun. During the hottest months of the year and the hottest hours of the day, put a partial shade over the parsley plants.

For how long will my parsley plant last?

After dealing with your parsley turning yellow, you may be thinking about how long your parsley plant will last. Parsley is a biennial and it will live for two years. When the second growing season ends, the plant produces flowers and seeds. If you are growing parsley long enough to get seeds, then cut off all the imperfect and weak plants so that just the healthiest plants survive and fertilize each other.