Why Does Parsley Turn Yellow In The Pot? Is It Edible?

Why Does Parsley Turn Yellow In The Pot? Is It Edible?

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) gives the decisive flavor to the food – especially if it comes from own cultivation. The tasty herb can be cultivated both in the bed and in a pot on the windowsill. Unfortunately, the plant is considered very particular about the location and care. What to do if the parsley suddenly turns yellow and are the leaves still edible?


If the parsley from the pot turns yellow, this is often due to errors in care. The herb is very demanding on compliance with the appropriate conditions and is very sensitive to even the smallest discrepancies. If the gardener notices a change in the color of the leaves, he should check the following factors and improve them if necessary:

  • unfavorable site conditions
  • incorrect watering behavior
  • diseases and pests

The right location

Unlike Mediterranean herbs, parsley feels comfortable in partial shade. Locations that are too warm and sunny quickly cause sunburn on the leaves. This could be a reason for the yellow coloration of parsley. Especially if the gardener cultivates the plant in a pot on the windowsill, the glass pane intensifies the heat of the sunlight.

Tip: Parsley from the supermarket, the gardener should remove from the plastic tray and transplant the herbs into a larger pot. This guarantees a longer freshness. Alternatively, he puts the plant directly into the bed.

The suitable substrate

The kitchen herb does not tolerate waterlogging. The soil should therefore be as loose and permeable as possible. In addition, humus-rich substrate promotes growth by optimally supplying parsley with the necessary nutrients, which the plant needs in large quantities. This feature must be taken into account by the gardener, especially when keeping in the balcony box. If he plants it every year anew, the crop rotation has high relevance. After all, if the gardener grows umbellifers in one and the same window box for years, the soil will soon be depleted. After harvesting the parsley, he must therefore renew the pot from scratch before planting Petroselinum crispum in the following year. In addition to parsley also include

  • Carrot
  • Dill
  • and fennel
  • also belong to the umbellifers.

Note: If the gardener can rule out an incorrect location as the cause, a molybdenum or magnesium deficiency in the substrate often causes the yellow coloration of parsley. A particular indication of this reason are initially white spots on the leaves before the plants turn completely yellow. In specialized stores, the gardener can get fertilizers specially designed for this deficiency.

The appropriate watering

The watering requires a lot of tact. It is necessary to find the right balance between not too dry and not too wet soil. The finger test can help here. Only when the top layer of substrate is completely dry, the next watering takes place. However, too long a dry period should not occur either. Often gardeners also forget that although a drainage, the watering water accumulates in the saucer. When cultivating on the windowsill, the gardener must be sure to pour off excess water.

Warm tap water is best recommended for watering to accommodate the preference for calcareous soil.

Diseases and pests

That the leaves of parsley turn yellow is not uncommon and even has its own name. Botanists also speak of parsley disease. Umbelliferous plants are particularly susceptible to pests such as

  • Root aphids
  • Nematodes
  • fungal spores
  • Maggots

Usually the vermin nest in the substrate and feed on the roots. To the human eye, the tiny pests are barely visible. If, in addition, there is no adequate crop rotation, the parasites multiply all the more.

Such a case of disease can be prevented by the gardener sowing parsley only in August. By this time of year, the pests have long since retreated. Plants that the gardener has grown in pots are usually more resistant to parasites.

Note: A compost pile in the garden is all well and good, as the gardener can always obtain fresh, organic fertilizer from it. In this case, however, he should use only potting soil from a specialty retailer for his pots. Decomposed material from the compost pile could contain pests from the start.

Different types of yellowing

Leaves do not always turn yellow throughout. Spots or shades of color are also possible. These provide important clues as to what disease or care error is involved.

  • Leaves turn completely yellow: drought, waterlogging or crusted soil, measure: change care habits.
  • yellow spots or light green or white mosaic pattern: infection with the parsley Y virus caused by aphids, measure: remove yellow shoots, do not dispose of them in the compost
  • Faint yellow or white coloration of the leaves, sometimes with a red tinge: infection with various types of viruses, often necroses, can lead to the death of the entire plant if treated too late, measure: remove all infected shoots generously, do not dispose of in the compost

Is yellow parsley still edible?

Although discoloration of the leaves also reduces the visual effect, the gardener usually grows the herb for consumption. So the question arises whether yellow parsley is still edible.

In general, there is no danger to health. In the first place, only the taste suffers. The leaves lose their fresh aroma, taste bland and dry. If pests are the cause, the shoots may also begin to rot. In this case, it is not advisable to eat.

However, once the plant has faded, it is by no means suitable for culinary use. After flowering, parsley produces the toxic substance apiol, which not only makes the leaves inedible, but also has health effects.

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