Growing Parsnip

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

Not recommended for growing in USA - Zone 5a regions

  • Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 21°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 8 - 10 cm apart
  • Harvest in 17-20 weeks. Best flavour if harvested after a frost..
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Swiss Chard (Silverbeet), Capsicum, Peas, Potatoes, Beans, Radishes, Garlic
  • Avoid growing close to: Carrot, Celery, Brassicas
  • A freshly dug parsnip
  • Parsnip leaves

Best grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. Use fresh seed and soak seed overnight then, after planting, keep seeds moist until seed germinate. Similar to starting carrots, maybe cover with a wooden plank or mulch until seeds germinate. They will completely fail if the seed dries out after planting and it's not unusual to have an entire packet fail. Difficult to grow in summer as the seed dries out fast and won't germinate. Leave in the ground until after frost or at least a couple of weeks of really cold weather. The cold results in the starch in the roots being converted into sugars which give the parsnip its sweet taste. Use a spade to dig the parsnip out of the ground.

Germination rates of parsnip seed are not great so sow about 3 seeds per inch and at a depth of around half an inch. Germination may take up to 20 days. Thin seedlings down so they are about 8cm (4in) apart. If you are planting in rows then space the rows about 50cm (20in) apart.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Parsnip

Peel and roast with vegetables or meat. The sweetish flavour of parsnips enhances most other vegetables.

Your comments and tips

24 Oct 21, Edwin S Bedford (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
It is Spring in South West Victoria , my daughter has planted Parsnip and growing well. Suddenly they have all bolted, can you help please. regards Edwin.
26 Oct 21, Anonymous (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
My thoughts would be- your soil is not very rich and they went to seed or you planted too late in the season. I'm sub tropical and Gardenate suggests I can plant as late as Sept. They take approx 5 months to grow. So I would be picking mid to late Feb. Probably too wet and way too hot in my book to grow in summer. We are having 30 degree temps now. To me they are a winter crop. I have been eating mine for the last 4-5 weeks, so I must have planted in May. You say you are cool/mountain climate, are you having high temperatures.
02 Mar 21, John Drake (USA - Zone 7b climate)
I have found that germinating the seeds first in a plastic tray with a lid works best for me, I place a paper towel on the bottom of the tray and dampen it with water and then sprinkle the parsnip seeds onto the paper towel. I then snap the lid on and leave the tray on top of the refrigerator where it will stay warm. I'll check on the moisture level every so often and before too long the root will appear. At that point is when I carefully lift the seed out with a spoon and plant in the prepared bed.
04 Mar 21, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Great idea - I will give it a try when it cools down next month.
01 May 20, Murdock Halliday (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I am trying to germinate and plant parsnips now in Christchurch. The weather is amazingly warm for this time of the year. Am I wasting my time? Should I have tried earlier in the year? Thanks and take care.
05 May 20, Anon (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
It says from March onwards - subject to local conditions. When the weather turns cooler go for it. We just had a drop from 17-18 at night to 6.4 and 7.9. 10 days ago max was 32 yesterday 24. For most plants it is about soil temperature required to germinate. A cheap thermometer from Bunnings or gardening centre.
16 Sep 19, Lois Wattis (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I'm interested in giving parsnips a try. I've read the seed planting guides and also the idea of planting seeds paper towel rolls to encourage a straight root crop. I've also got a parsnip top growing in water and cotton wool and google tells me it won't become a parsnip if I plant it, but it might grow and flower, and I can collect seeds - is this right? Also, do the seeds grow well in a deep pot of good loose compost rich soil or do they HAVE to be planted in a garden bed? I've got some garlic planted in a tall pot (just shooting now) and wondering if I can put some parsnips in with it. Thanks for guidance, Lois
17 Sep 19, Anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Most root vegetables do not like or need a rich soil. Rich soil produces a lot of leaf. You want the root (parsnip) to grow. Growing anything in pots requires a lot more attention than in the ground. More watering and fertilising. I'm not a believer in mixing up plantings of different vegetables. I plant rows of different crops so as to cultivate easier for weeds and access.
14 Sep 19, Rob Taylor (Australia - temperate climate)
I have parsnips growing at Hervey Bay, they are growing well, but they appear to be all top. I have cut the top foliage back. Will this affect the root. best regards Rob
16 Sep 19, Anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Probably too much fertiliser especially N. More a crop to grow autumn into winter than in spring.
Showing 1 - 10 of 90 comments

Can you sow parsnips in the fall,such as November, and harvest in the spring?

- Catherine Ingraham

Please provide your email address if you are hoping for a reply

All comments are reviewed before displaying on the site, so your posting will not appear immediately

Gardenate App

Put Gardenate in your pocket. Get our app for iPhone, iPad or Android to add your own plants and record your plantings and harvests

Planting Reminders

Join our 60,000+ gardeners who already use Gardenate and subscribe to the free Gardenate planting reminders email newsletter.

Home | Vegetables and herbs to plant | Climate zones | About Gardenate | Contact us | Privacy Policy

This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
We cannot help if you are overrun by giant slugs.