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Garden Help Desk: Enjoy parsley regrowth now, but replant to keep your supply going

By USU Extension - Special to the Daily Herald | Mar 16, 2024
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Parsley is very cold hardy and can continue to provide fresh green sprigs if given minimal protection during the winter.
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Parsley is a biennial plant. The top of the plant dies back during the winter and new growth appears in the early spring. Parsley will flower, set seed and then die at the end of its second growing season.
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Parsley flowers and sets seed during its second season in the garden. The flowers attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
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Necrotic ring spot disease causes rings of dead grass in lawn. Kentucky bluegrass is susceptible to this disease, but overseeding infected lawns with disease-resistant perennial ryegrass of turf-type tall fescue can help to restore a lawn to good health.

I never got around to digging out my parsley last fall and now it’s growing back. Will it grow back every year if I leave it where it is?

Parsley is a popular kitchen herb used as a garnish, an ingredient in a variety of dishes and as green texture or filler in flowerbeds and container gardens. Your parsley plant won’t come back every year because it’s a biennial plant, not a perennial. Biennial plants have a two-year life cycle consisting of green, leafy growth the first year followed by flowering and seed set before they die in the second year. Even though parsley has a two-year life span, most gardeners grow parsley as an annual.

The new green leaves you see in your garden are this year’s new growth. You’re seeing those leaves now because parsley is cold hardy and loves the early spring weather. My own container garden of parsley has stayed green and growing all winter long in the micro-climate of my south-facing back porch instead of dying back for the winter.

Your parsley and mine will spend several more weeks producing fresh, flavorful leaves, but it won’t be very long before we both see flowering stems appear. Cutting off the inflorescences as you see them will extend the harvest for your parsley.

In the meantime, you can trim away all the dead sprigs on your parsley and enjoy the fresh growth for a while before you’re ready to dig out the old plant. Now is also the time to start some new parsley by seed or transplant to keep you supplied with fresh bunches of greens throughout the new gardening season.

You can plant parsley seed directly into a sunny part of the garden or start transplants indoors at this time of year. Germination can be slow, so be patient. It will germinate better if you soak the seeds in water overnight before you plant. Parsley will also reseed easily in the garden if you let it flower and set seed, and Mother Nature will take care of the presoak during the winter.

If you don’t want an endless supply of parsley reseeded from year to year, you can easily prevent reseeding by keeping any flower stalks cut back until you’re ready to remove your plant.

I’m wondering if you can tell me how deep in the soil the disease Necrotic ring spot usually goes. I’ve treated this lawn with a special treatment program, but I’ve been told that chemicals won’t kill the fungus completely, so I’m wondering if I can dig it out. Thanks for any help you can give.

There isn’t any information about how deep into the soil Necrotic ring spot (NRS) fungi extend beneath lawns. This is true for many soil-borne fungi that affect our landscapes and gardens.

If you have just one small area of lawn, you could try removing soil about 1 foot deep, but there is no guarantee that you’re going to get all the pathogen out, and you’ll probably also be dropping infected soil around the edges of the hole and the nearby lawn. Soil removal isn’t a recommended control method for NRS.

Trying to remove and replace all those cubic feet of soil in your lawn area would be expensive and an enormous amount of work. Beyond the expense of replacing the soil, you could easily create more problems than replacement would solve, even if you could remove all the affected soil, which is unlikely.

  • Your replacement soil won’t have the same texture and structure as your original soil, creating drainage challenges for your lawn.
  • The new soil could be carrying weed seeds, adding new weed management problems.
  • Your replacement soil may already be harboring NRS or some other lawn disease or pest.

You’d be much better off to follow the current NRS management recommendations.

  • Encourage deeper rooting by delaying watering in the spring, then watering deeply but not frequently. Frequent watering makes lawns more susceptible to NRS.
  • Apply an effective fungicide such as myclobutanil, propiconazole or triticonazole (or a combination including multiple active ingredients) in mid-April and mid-May.
  • Mow taller (3-3.5 inches) to also encourage deeper rooting and reduce lawn stress.
  • Fertilize responsibly. Overfertilizing makes lawns more susceptible to NRS.
  • Aerate during active spring or fall growth to reduce soil compaction.
  • Overseed with perennial ryegrass or turf-type tall fescue. These grass species are highly resistant to NRS.


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