Parsnip seeds

Quick Reference:

Harvest Type:  Single or continuous

Transplant/Direct Sow:  Direct sow

When to Plant:  2-3 weeks before the last average frost date.  For fall gardens, plant 4-5 weeks before the cool weather starts.

Days to Germinate:  18 days

Days to Maturity:  95-120 days.

Planting Depth:  ½” deep.

Germination Temp:  Minimum of 46°F .  Optimal at 50-55°F.

Seed Spacing:  1-2 seeds per inch and thin as needed.

Light:  Full sun is ideal, but will tolerate some shade.

Soil pH:  6.0-6.8 pH

Water:  1" of water per week

Fertilizer:  10-12-10 N-P-K ratio

Rotation:  Root vegetable.  Rotate annually with heavy feeders.

Planting and Care: 

Harvest Type

Parsnips are a single harvest crop that can be continuous with successive planting.

Transplant / Direct Sow

Direct sow parsnips

TIP: Always use new or fresh parsnip seeds and plant twice as many as you think you will need. Parsnips are difficult to germinate.

When to Plant:

Plant parsnips when the soil is above 46°F for spring gardens. For fall gardens, plant 4-5 weeks before the hot summer weather fades.

Days to germinate

It takes parsnip seeds about 18 days to germinate.

Days to maturity

It takes about 95-120 days.

Planting Depth

Plant seeds 1/2" deep with 1-2 seeds per inch.

Germination Temperature Range

Parsnips like a little cold weather to sweeten. They will germinate at temperatures as low as 46°F, but you risk seed rot. Aim for soil temperatures that are 50-54 °F.

Spacing Between Plants

Parsnips need 1-2" of space between plants. 3" is ideal for excellent root development.

TIP: Parsnips have better flavor if you harvest them after a light freeze. For that reason, many people prefer to plant parsnips in the fall.

Growing conditions

Parsnips love well-drained, fertile soil that has more phosphorus than nitrogen. Start with aged composed or manure and supplement as needed with a 10-12-10 N-P-K ratio fertilizer. Water is critical for quality parsnip development. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Grow in early spring or fall for a two-season harvest.

Companion Plants

Onions and garlic are excellent companion plants for parsnips. You can also grow them with other root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, radish, and even celery and cilantro.


Rotate parsnips every year and on a three-year rotation which means you would not plant them in the same spot for three years. Mostly, this is to allow nutrient levels to re-balance and to avoid pest issues.

Anticipated yields

Plan your garden yield at 10-20 parsnips per person. On average, a single parsnip weighs about 1/3 of a pound. You can plant more if you plan to can them. You can also leave them in the garden to grow so long as there are no hard frosts. Mulch parsnips with 1-foot of hay to help preserve them in the ground. They will keep in a root cellar for 4-6 months if stored at temperatures between 32-40.


Family Sown collections that include parsnips: