When to Plant Parsnips and How Long to Wait for Germination

Sweet and nutty.  These words best describe the taste of parsnips.  Once you have tried this root vegetable, you would surely be interested in growing your own.

However, hardy as parsnips are, they have a notoriously long germination period.  The soil must be warm enough to encourage germination.  If not, only some of the seeds will germinate, that is, if they germinate at all.

Some gardeners opt to “pre-germinate” seeds by spreading them on a damp towel placed on a seed tray.  The seed tray is then positioned in airing cupboards and other similar areas.  The important thing to remember is to keep the towel damp at all times.  Once the seeds have germinated, you can then transfer the seedlings outside and throw those that did not germinate.

Germination of parsnip seeds can take as long as 20 days or three weeks.  To help the seeds germinate, you can roll the soil lightly or trample it gently after sowing.  You can also opt to soak the seeds overnight before sowing.

Although parsnips need the cold to taste sweet, warmth is a must to aid in seed germination (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit), carefully planning when to plant is a must.  It’s ideal to start sowing early in March – or sometime in the late spring – when the soil gets warm enough.

If you are in a temperate zone, you can start sowing from midwinter until the middle of autumn.  Sow seeds early in the fall all through winter if you live in subtropical areas.

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