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All you need to know about Parsnips


Common Name: Parsnip

Latin Name: Pastinaca sativa

Family: Apiaceae

Plant Time: -

Mature Size: 1–3 ft. tall, 6–12 inch wide

Sun Preference: Full sun or partial sun

Soil Preference: Loamy, moist, well-drained soil with acidic to neutral pH levels (6 -7)

Bloom Time: Summer

Flower Color: Yellow

Native Area: Europe, Asia

Toxicity: can be toxic to people (sap in the plant)

Growth Rate: -

Wildlife Value: -

Table of Contents

These veggies look a bit like pale carrots, and they grow as a cool-season root vegetable. Unlike radishes, they take two growing seasons to complete their life cycle, but most people grow them as annuals. A typical parsnip root is about five to ten inches long and the plant has some green leaves sticking up above the ground. They grow pretty slowly and are usually planted in the spring, though some folks plant them in the fall too.

Common Parsnips varieties:

  • Hollow Crown parsnip
  • Tender and True parsnip
  • White king parsnip
  • Gladiator F1 parsnip
  • Imperial Crown parsnip


Taking care of parsnips – just like tomatoes or ginger – isn’t too hard, but there are some important things to keep in mind.

  • Sunlight: First, make sure your parsnips are getting plenty of sunlight – they like at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Soil: Secondly, make sure they’re growing in soil that’s rich, and loamy with good drainage, and that the pH is slightly acidic to neutral (6 to 7).
  • Water: When watering your parsnips, you want to aim for about one inch of water per week, given slowly and deeply. Be careful not to overwater, as this can result in weak roots.
  • Temperature: In terms of temperature, parsnips thrive in temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and can survive freezing temperatures also.


Propagating parsnips is pretty straightforward. They need a long growing season and prefer cooler months, so it’s a good idea to plant them in the middle of the fall or in early spring (depending on your location)

For the planting site, choose an area with loose, well-draining soil that’s free of rocks and weeds. It’s not recommended to grow them in containers, as they need plenty of room for their roots to develop.

Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and add roughly two to three seeds per inch in rows that are 1.5 to 2 feet apart. Once the seedlings are a few inches tall, thin them to three to six inches apart, cutting off the plants at ground level rather than pulling them to avoid disturbing the surrounding plants.

With a bit of attention to planting time, soil conditions, and seed spacing, you should have no trouble propagating your own delicious parsnips!

Common Pests

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do parsnips grow best?

Ah, the parsnip – a root vegetable that deserves proper care and attention to reach its full potential. If you want to grow parsnips, my dear friend, it’s important to choose the right spot. You’ll want a sunny area with loose soil that drains well, and that’s free of pesky rocks that could cause problems for your parsnip roots. Much like carrots, parsnips may struggle in clay or compacted soils, which could result in thin and misshapen roots. And, of course, make sure the area is weed-free, to avoid any unwanted competition for nutrients and water. So, with these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to growing some lovely parsnips!

Can you eat parsnip raw?

Parsnips are perfectly safe to consume in their raw state. Some may already know this, but it’s always good to be sure. When eaten raw, parsnips reveal their natural sweetness and nuttiness, with just a touch of licorice to add a subtle twist. In fact, some might say that the flavor of raw parsnips is truly delightful!

Can parsnips stay in the ground all winter?

Parsnips are quite a resilient root vegetable and can be stored until the spring of the following year. On the other hand, Salsify and scorzonera are incredibly tough and best left in the ground to be used as needed until March.

Do parsnips like sun or shade?

Parsnips actually prefer to grow in full sun, meaning at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, they can tolerate some shade if needed. So if you want to grow these delicious root veggies, make sure to provide them with plenty of sunlight to help them thrive.

Do parsnips grow back?

It turns out that if you cut a parsnip and replant it, new leaves may grow and tiny roots may form. However, the plant won’t grow a whole new root. And since the greens of parsnips are not edible, there aren’t many reasons to do this. But it could be a fun experiment to try with kids or to grow them for their flowers or seeds!