How to prune parsley for a bushier plant: simple tips for success

Learning how to prune parsley will give you a longer harvest and fresher leaves

Closeup of hands trimming parsley plant in garden
(Image credit: Photomura / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're wondering how to prune parsley, never fear – we've got the answers right here. 

Learning how to grow parsley is simple enough. It's a resilient herb that loves sunshine, partial shade and moist soil, and can be sown from seed in milder months. 

Parsley is a delicious addition to any kitchen garden, thanks to its versatility as a garnish and ingredient in plenty of dishes. It pairs especially well with meat and fish, and is often chopped up and added into dressings and sauces.

parsley fresh green parsley growing in a pot

Grow your own fresh parsley in a container

(Image credit: Katerina Solovyeva / Alamy Stock Photo)

Simple tips on how to prune parsley so it keeps growing 

Like many herbs, parsley actually enjoys being trimmed regularly, as this is what encourages new growth. 

Every time you plan to use some parsley, snip off a few stems from the outside of the plant instead of taking just the leaves. It's also a benefit to tidy up the plant: 'Encourage new growth by snipping off any lower leaves that start to turn yellow,' says the RHS (opens in new tab)

Be confident and trim at the base of the stem, close to the soil. If cut from the top of the stem, parsley will slow production of new leaves. 

It's also recommended to actually cut the stems with scissors, rather than pinching them off, as the plant prefers a clean cut. 

You'll find a similar approach can work when considering how to prune cilantro and how to harvest basil so they keep growing.

cultivating parsley plant in ground

Pruning parsley at the base of the stem yields a bushier growth

(Image credit: BSIP SA / Alamy Stock Photo)

When should parsley be cut back? 

Parsley should be cut back regularly to increase its yield, so even if you're not planning to use the herb all the time, it's still recommended to give it a little snip every couple of weeks.

New leaves will grow back quickly, so the more often you cut, the bushier your plant will become as it keeps producing throughout the season. 

Closeup of hands trimming parsley plant in garden

Regular pruning of your parsley plant will encourage more leaves to grow

(Image credit: Photomura / Alamy Stock Photo)

What do you do when parsley goes to seed?

Parsley is one of the best herbs to grow in your garden for its culinary abilities. It's also a biennial, so it will go to seed in its second year of growth. 

If your parsley plant is bolting, you have a few options: either pinch off the majority of the flowers to prolong leaf growth, or pull the plant up entirely. 

'Remove flowerheads to extend the cropping life of the plants,' suggests the RHS (opens in new tab). At that point you can store the seed heads in a paper bag and save them for planting next season. 

However, though parsley bolts, it won't affect the flavor of the leaves themselves, so it's totally fine to let it go to seed and wait for some fresh growth in next year's spring. 

ripe parsley seeds in the garden.

Parsley may go to seed if allowed to flower 

(Image credit: Beata Haliw / Alamy Stock Photo)
Flora Baker
Freelance Writer

Freelance writer and author Flora Baker is a keen amateur gardener and houseplant enthusiast. Her small garden in South London is a constant work in progress as she gets to grips with snail prevention, DIY trellises and what to plant in shady spots overrun with ivy.