Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Lemon Balm)
Flat leaf parsley is one of the most popular herbs in Italy. It’s used to flavor many dishes such as pasta sauces, salads, soups and stews. Italian flat leaf parsley grows wild throughout the country. There are several varieties of flat leaf parsley available including lemon balm, basil, rosemary and thyme.
All of these types have their own distinctive taste and smell.
The leaves of flat leaf parsley are usually green or yellowish brown. They can range in color from light green to dark brown. The flowers are white, small and round with five petals each. Flowers appear in spring and summer months when temperatures reach around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C).
The flower buds open up into tiny fruit pods which contain seeds. These pods mature into small plants which produce new leaves and stems every year.
Growing Tips For Growing Flat Leaf Parsley In Pots
It takes approximately three years for flat leaf parsley to reach maturity. You will need to water your flat leaf parsley regularly during its growth period so that it doesn’t get wilted out before reaching full size. If you don’t water your flat leaf parsley enough, it won’t become strong and healthy enough to survive the winter months.
Flat leaf parsley is a sturdy plant that can grow in many different types of soil. It does best in soil with good drainage and doesn’t like to be kept too wet. It is a good idea to water your flat leaf parsley every week during the dry summer months. As the weather starts to cool down in the fall, watering should only be done every two weeks.
During the winter months, flat leaf parsley should only be watered every month or two.
Flat leaf parsley can be grown indoors or outdoors. It does best when planted in pots filled with commercial potting soil, but can also be grown in large plastic containers or wooden boxes filled with dirt. When the weather gets too hot, flat leaf parsley should be brought indoors and grown near a sunny window. If you bring your flat leaf parsley indoors, place it by a sunny window and water it once a week.
It can be fertilized every couple of weeks with commercial houseplant fertilizer.
Flat leaf parsley can be grown in the ground as long as you live in a temperate or subtropical climate. In colder areas, flat leaf parsley should be planted in early spring and harvested before the first frost hits your region. It can then be replanted again if there is no danger of frost.
Flat leaf parsley can be started by seed. Simply fill potting soil into a container that has holes in the bottom for water to drain. Moisten the soil and sprinkle a few parsley seeds on top. Gently water the seeds and place the pot in a sunny window.
Keep the soil moist and wait for the parsley seeds to germinate. It should only take a few weeks for your seeds to sprout. When they reach 6 inches in height, they are ready to be thinned out.
Flat leaf parsley can also be started by purchasing starter plants from your local nursery. Simply place the starter plant in a pot or container and follow the same guidelines above.
Pests And Diseases
Your flat leaf parsley is most susceptible to diseases caused by poor air circulation and moist soil. It can be affected by botrytis, which causes gray mold on the leaves. This can be combated by making sure the flat leaf parsley has enough air circulation and watering it from the bottom.
Flat leaf parsley can be affected by whiteflies, aphids, cabbage loopers and carrot flies. These pests are easily taken care of by purchasing some insecticide or by manually removing them from the plants.
Flat leaf parsley can be harvested at any time during its growing period. For fresh use, harvest the leaves and the stems. Dig up the entire plant if you want to dry it out for future use. If you want to dry your flat leaf parsley for later use, pick the leaves and stems and lay them out in one layer on a cookie sheet.
Place the cookie sheet in a cool oven and turn it on to 200 degrees. The flat leaf parsley will slowly start to dry out while the oven heats up. Once the oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off and let the flat leaf parsley dry in the cooling oven. Do NOT open the oven until the oven is cool.
Once the flat leaf parsley is dry and crumbly, you can remove it from the cookie sheet and store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Flat leaf parsley can also be pickled or preserved in oil.
Parsley is primarily used as a garnish for food. It is also eaten on its own and used in soups, stews and sauces.
Some people use it as a breath freshener by chewing on the leaves.
Sources & references used in this article:
Characterization of essential oil of parsley by JE Simon, J Quinn – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 1988 – ACS Publications
The German parsley germplasm collection-interaction of morphological, molecular and phytochemical characters by U Lohwasser, M Declercq, A Börner… – … and Aromatic Plants …, 2009 – actahort.org
Parsley by DJ Charles – Handbook of Herbs and Spices, 2012 – Elsevier
Parsley: A review of habitat, phytochemistry, ethnopharmacology and biological activities by S Sarwar, MA Ayyub, M Rezgui, S Nisar… – Int. J. Chem. and …, 2016 – iscientific.org