can parsley survive a move?

growsy(8b GA)February 4, 2013

I had two parsley plants in one of my garden beds that were stripped by Black Swallowtail caterpillars last summer. They survived & are doing well, but I'd like to move them to another location dedicated to cat host plants. Is it likely a move will just kill them, or is it worth a try?

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Parsley is not a perennial but a biennial so if they were sown last spring this year they will start to bolt and go to seed even if left undisturbed. It would be better to start new parsley plants this spring in the position you want them. For a constant supply of parsley you need to sow every year.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:48PM
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growsy(8b GA)

I realize they'd go to seed this year, but I was thinking that would be good in a bed dedicated to producing caterpillar food. I was just wondering if it would work. I will probably end up trying it, whatever the case, because I don't want the parsley & thus the cats in my veggie bed. Thanks for the response, though, flora!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:49PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Well if it's just for caterpillars there's nothing to lose. They might even self sow. But the caterpillars will not harm vegetables that are not in the parsley family, even if you leave the parsley where it is.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:05PM
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CA Kate

Parsley is a good plant to let go to flower since the teeny, tiny flowers attract teeny, tiny parasitic wasps that are beneficial in the garden.

However, to answer your initial question, parsley in the ground develops a long taproot that is very hard to move. The plant is best left in place, if possible.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:58PM
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growsy(8b GA)

Thanks, westelle. Someone else told me about the taproot in another group & that makes a lot of sense. I may take your advice & let it go to seed where it is & then move the little starts next year as flora advised. I was concerned that I'd get more cats in that bed, but I'll try to be attentive, & if I do I'll move them. Thanks to you both for helping me sort it out!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:14PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Over the years we have encouraged butterflies at our place. We use no pesticides, encouraged host plants, and have let numerous acres lay fallow to become meadow. We see more butterflies now (including the large ones like monarchs and swallowtails) then ever before. I get swallowtail cat's on my parsley in the veggie garden. I, however, have a small row/patch (just a few feet) instead of 2 plants. The cat's eat the parsley but it's only a few plants munched with no appreciable harm to my ability to harvest. I would suggest leaving the parsley be and growing a bit more parsley so both you and the butterflies can be happy. If you use chemicals/pesticides in your veggie bed, l would suggest having butterfly parsley elsewhere though.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:38AM
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growsy(8b GA)

Thanks FataMorgana. I don't use any pesticides. I just want to make sure they have a place that will have enough food to get them all the way to butterfly. I think the supply was inadequate for the # of cats we had though I was very excited to see them all. By the time we had the population explosion the herbs they like were gone from the nurseries for the season. This time I want to be prepared!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:31AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Direct sow some parsley early in the season...same time as peas, lettuce, and other early cold tolerant veggies. A pack of seeds is very inexpensive and you will get a lot of new parsley plants. I only ever direct sow parsley - it works though be patient. It does take it a while for parsley to sprout. About the time I'm thinking that the pack of seeds was a dud and I need to replant, every seed has just decided to sprout. Yeah....I do go through that every year! ;)

With the direct sowing, you will also have less problems with bolting upon transplanting - a *very* common problem with purchased parsley plants.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:56AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

growsy - I was sure I'd mentioned the taproot issue but it seems I forgot. Parsley is easy from seed, though it can take a while to germinate. Much cheaper to get a lot of plants that way than by buying plants. You could grow a whole row as fatamoragana suggests. We don't have swallow tails here (except 1 very rare species in the East) but I still grow a ten foot row of parsley because we eat a lot of it!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:57AM
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growsy(8b GA)

Thanks again for the input FataMorgana & flora. It's good to know to be patient on the parsley I have already sown. Hopefully it will transplant well when tiny. I'm pretty sure I have some more seed that I can direct sow. Well, I'd better get to it!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:33PM
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