Drooping parsley can be a reaction to intense heat, drought, saturated soil, a lack of regular pruning, too much fertilizer or parsley can wilt as a sign of stress due to a sudden contrast in conditions when cultivated indoors to then being planted outdoors.
Parsley requires moist, well draining soil to grow properly and it is one of the first herbs in a herb garden to wilt due to drought.
However if you have bought parsley as a young plant from a garden center or grown from seed indoors then the contrast in temperature and soil conditions can cause parsley to droop temporarily as it adjusts to the new environment.
Often drooping parsley is easily revived, depending on the cause.
Keep reading to understand what has caused your parsley to droop and what you can do to save it…
Save Parsley Wilting or Drooping in Pots
The reasons for potted parsley drooping is because:
- The pot is too small and therefore dries out too quickly which causes the parsley to wilt.
- Parsley can droop because of water stress and root rot caused by a lack of drainage holes in the base of the pot.
To prevent parsley from wilting ensure that it is planted in a pot or container that is around 12 inches across.
If the pot or container is too small there is less capacity for soil and therefore less capacity for moisture available for the roots of the parsley which causes drooping.
Smaller pots and containers also heat up much quicker in the sun compared with larger pots, which increases evaporation from the soil and the parsley droops as a sign of stress.
How to solve it:
If your potted parsley is consistently wilting despite frequent watering then transplant the parsley to a larger pot with lots of compost to help retain moisture.
With frequent watering and some protection from the intense heat of midday sun the parsley should perk up again after a few days.
Whilst parsley can droop as a result of a lack of water, it can also wilt (and turn yellow) as a sign of stress due to water logged roots.
A common mistake when growing parsley is to plant it in a pot without proper drainage holes in the base, or to place the pot in a saucer or a tray which prevents excess water from escaping.
If excess water cannot drain away from the pot after watering your parsley then the soil quickly becomes saturated which promotes the conditions for root rot and other fungal diseases causing your parsley to droop.
(To learn more, read my article about how to save parsley that has turned yellow).
Transplant your parsley to a pot or container with drainage holes as an urgent priority and leave the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again.
The parsley can recover from a wilted state if it is suffering from water sensitivity in a few days, however if there is significant root rot or fungal disease and the leaves have all turned yellow then I would recommend discarding the plant as they can be difficult to save.
Parsley Wilting on Hot Days (Despite Being Well Watered)
It can be frustrating if your parsley is persistently drooping in Summer even through it is well watered and growing in good conditions.
Parsley droops temporarily on hot days in Summer as an adaptation to reduce transpiration from the leaves and conserve water.
The parsley usually perks up again as the temperature cools or if you protect it from direct sun.
This temporary drooping due to hot weather does not harm the plant as such but if it is drooping every day in response to intense heat and light then I recommend protecting it from midday sun by moving the pot to shade for a few hours.
Parsley can grow well in both full sun and partial sun.
Ensure that the soil around your parsley is moist (but not saturated) to help it recover from a drooping appearance.
Regular Pruning Prevents Parsley Drooping
Parsley is a great herb to grow as you can trim it regularly for culinary use and it responds by growing more abundantly then before.
If you do not prune parsley regularly then it can grow leggy and subsequently droop.
During Spring and summer you may need to prune your parsley as frequently as once every 3 weeks to maintain a nice even shape and prevent it from drooping under its own weight.
Pruning parsley promotes more growth and a bushier plant so that you have a good supply of parsley for cooking throughout the Spring and Summer.
Once parsley has exceeded 8 inches in height, it is a good time to prune it to prevent drooping.
Watch this YouTube video for a good visual guide to pruning parsley:
Excess Fertilizer Causes Parsley to Droop
A common cause of a drooping parsley plant is because of high nitrogen fertilizers or because of the use of soil amendments such as poultry manure (which is particularly high in nitrogen).
The nitrogen in fertilizer promotes lots of foliage growth which can cause the stems of your parsley to become soft and sappy which makes it more prone to drooping and vulnerable to insect pests such as aphids.
Parsley planted in good compost does not necessarily require any fertilizer to thrive, however if you are intent on maximizing the harvest then a half strength all purpose fertilizer helps to promote more growth.
Always follow the manufacturers guidelines when applying fertilizer to ensure that you do not apply too much fertilizer to avoid drooping parsley.
Too much nitrogen can change the flavour and aroma of parsley so I recommend to trim back any excessively drooping growth and the parsley should grow back in 2 or 3 weeks in favourable conditions.
Parsley Drooping After Planting (Transplant Shock)
Transplant shock can cause your parsley plant to droop as a sign of stress because of the contrast in conditions such as light, soil, watering frequency and temperature in which it was grown to the conditions in which it has been transplanted.
The roots also have to adjust to new soil conditions with a different structure, nutrient profile and drainage conditions.
After transplanting parsley there is at a greater risk of drought as the roots are not established yet and the abundant leaves can lose a lot of water (through transpiration) on hot, sunny days which causes parsley to droop.
So if you bought a parsley plant from the store or perhaps you have grown parsley from seed and you are transplanting it outside you should try to mitigate transplant shock.
To mitigate transplant shock and therefore limit the amount your parsely droops or wilts it is important to:
- Water the parsley every 2 to 3 days to ensure that the soil is consistently moist so the roots can draw up water quicker then they lose it through their leaves.
- Plant parsley in a potting mix of compost and leaf mould as these materials have an exceptional capacity for retaining moisture and they are rich in nutrients.
- Protect parsley from intense midday sun which can increase soil evaporation and transpiration from the leaves.
As long as you are growing parsley in the right conditions the parsley should adjust to its new surrounding and recover from its drooping appearance in about a week.
Drought Causes Parsley to Droop
Parsley requires moist yet well drained soil and tends to droop quickly due to drought and dry soil.
Parsley is native to central and eastern Mediterranean countries but it is far less drought tolerant then a lot of other Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano due to its abundant leaves that have a large surface area which results in more transpiration (water loss from the leaves).
To prevent parsely from drooping due to drought, water your parsley as frequently as required to keep the soil moist.
In the height of Summer, potted parsley should be watered around once every 2 or 3 days and perhaps every day in exceptionally high temperatures.
If they weather has been somewhat overcast or there has been plenty of rainfall then watering once per week is usually enough to prevent parsley from drooping or wilting.
- The most common reasons for drooping parsley are because of drought, a lack of regularly pruning or parsley may temporarily droop to help conserve moisture on exceptionally hot days.
- Potted parsley often droops due to poor draining, or because of small pots that dry out too quickly in the sun which causes drought.
- High nitrogen fertilizer causes the parsley to grow quickly but with weaker stems that can droop under their own weight.
- Transplanting parsley from indoors to outdoors can cause parsley to droop.
- Parsley should be pruned once it exceeds 8 inches in height which stimulates more growth and prevents the plant from drooping.