Why is My Parsley Turning Yellow? (Plus Care Tips!)

Is your parsley plant turning yellow and looking wan? The first thing to check is water levels, as dampness is almost always the cause. If not, it may also be a result of underwatering, lack of sun or nutrients, or a fungal or pest infestation. 

This guide goes through each of these problems, showing you how to spot them and what steps to take. I love parsley as an easy addition to my herb garden, because fresh parsley gives a great flavor to a wide range of dishes and, under the right conditions, it’s very easy to grow. 

So if your parsley is struggling, let’s find out what’s going wrong and get it back on track so that you can get this wonderful herb flourishing again.

Growing Parsley

Growing Parsley

Parsley is well known to make a great garnish, and it’s at its best freshly cut. So it’s well worth putting the effort in to grow this plant in your home. 

It prefers a sunny spot with nutrient-rich and well-draining soil and consistent moisture. With these conditions met, the parsley should thrive, but if you are experiencing trouble, have a look at the suggestions below. 

Overwatering and Drainage 

Overwatering parsley

When watering parsley, the soil should be kept consistently moist but not soaking wet. If the plant pot feels heavy with water, it’s overwatered. 

Even with proper watering, the soil can become clogged if the water cannot drain properly. Make sure the plant pot has holes and loose soil to allow drainage. This, combined with proper watering, should bring the parsley back to full health. 

If the parsley is left sitting in damp soil, it may attract pests and the leaves will turn yellow as the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients is affected. If you start to notice a smell, the plant’s roots may have begun to rot. 

Root Rot

If you suspect root rot, dig up the plant and look for black or brown spots in the root. Cut these away, allow the plant to dry out for an hour, and replant the herb in soil full of organic material to revive the plant’s health.

Make sure the repotting soil is completely dry when replanting.


Underwatering parsley

On the other end of the scale, underwatering can also damage the plant. The soil shouldn’t be left bone dry.

The more time the plant is left without moisture, the more it will suffer. If you haven’t watered the parsley enough, do not overcompensate by suddenly using lots of water. 

Every time the soil dries out, water the plant until water seeps through the drainage holes. Once on a proper watering schedule, the plant will recover and turn green again. 

Lack of Sunlight

Lack of Sunlight parsley

Without enough sunlight, the parsley will begin to turn yellow as it cannot produce enough chlorophyll. Parsley needs at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. 

If your parsley plant is potted, move it to a spot where it will receive more sunlight. Make sure no obstructions are leaving it sitting in the shade for too long. 

If you cannot give the plant enough sunlight, you can use artificial lights to get enough light to the plant. 

Lack of Nutrients 

Lack of Nutrients parsley

Parsley needs a lot of nutrients, so it has developed long tap roots to find them. For potted parsley, you need to provide those nutrients. Without it, the plant’s health suffers and it can turn yellow.

Add compost or slow-release fertilizer once a month to potted parsley once it has begun to grow to provide the nutrients the plant needs. Don’t add any more than this, as too much fertilizer can also damage the plant by burning the roots.

If the plant has been suffering from a lack of nutrients, these regular top-ups will revive the plant over time and restore its green coloring. 

Fungal Infections

Fungal Infections parsley

Leaf Spot

An infection called leaf spot can result in yellow leaves or yellow spots on parsley leaves. These leaves will weaken, turn brown and die without treatment. 

Early treatment with fungicide can save the plant. If it becomes severely afflicted and too much of it has become discolored, you will need to discard the plant. 


Blight is another disease that will cause yellow and brown patches on your parsley. It’s caused by high humidity, and can only be treated by remedying this. 

Make sure to water only in the morning so that the plant has time to dry out during the day. Water only at the base of the plant and avoid splashing water on the plant to avoid further humidity.

If you can move the plant to a less humid spot, do so. With a reduction of humidity, the blight should disappear. 

Stemphylium Fungus

Another fungus found in yellow parsley is stemphylium fungus, also found in crops such as garlic, leeks, and onions. The best way to prevent it is to make sure your parsley is properly spaced when it grows, and water in the morning. 

When planting, parsley plants should be spaced 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are at least 6 inches apart. Although parsley can tolerate crowding, it will grow bushier and healthier with correct spacing. 

Pest Infestations

Pest Infestations parsley

Spider mites can sap the nutrients from parsley, turning it yellow, but luckily they are pretty easy to spot and treat.

Signs include a very fine web appearing around the plant and the mites themselves will look like tiny black dots that are especially easy to spot if you shake the plant over a blank piece of paper. 

You can remove many of these pests physically by shaking the plant or spraying it with a strong jet of water. Neem oil or horticultural soap can then be applied to prevent them from returning.

Once you have gotten rid of these pests, the plant will quickly recover and heal. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Are there different types of parsley?

A: Parsley comes in three main varieties: common parsley, flat leaf, and Italian parsley. They each have subtle flavor differences. 

Q: How long does parsley take to grow?

A: Parsley grows slowly at first, but quickly blooms to life and should be ready to harvest 60 to 90 days after planting.

Q: Can you grow parsley from store-bought herbs?

A: Yes, you can grow sprouts from cut herbs and plant them to grow your own parsley plant.  

Parsley Turning Yellow – Conclusion

turning yellow

It cannot be stressed enough that the first thing you should check if your parsley is turning yellow is the moisture and drainage of the soil, as this is almost always the culprit. 

If not, one of the other causes on this list is sure to be the reason behind those yellowing leaves. Once identified, you can quickly get the problem sorted, and get back to having fresh parsley garnish available whenever you want it.

Are any of your other plants yellowing? Check out our guides on what to do if your Iris or Oleander  leaves are yellowing.