A Simple Guide To Planting And Growing Parsnip Tops

When people ask “how to grow parsnips from cuttings,” they are often disappointed that you cannot grow a new parsnip by planting the top. But you will grow a flowering plant that makes a beautiful addition to your home or garden.

Parsnip cuttings can either be grown in water for later transplant or directly in the soil. They can be placed directly in a bowl of water, suspended over a glass, on top of a “rock garden” or sitting on damp newspaper. In each case, use parsnip tops that are about 2.5cm (1inch) long, preferably with a few greens still on top. The cuttings should send out roots and greens in a few days.

Parsnip tops are an easy home gardening project that makes use of kitchen scraps. They are simple to grow and you can experiment with different ways of growing them. Here are the five best tried-and-true methods to grow parsnip cuttings and we’ll also discuss what you can do with the greens.

Read Next: How to grow parsnips in containers.

How To Grow Parsnips From Cuttings

Unfortunately, planting a parsnip cutting will not grow another parsnip. Even so, this is a great way to produce green matter from “garbage” and it is a great project to do at home with children to show how plants grow, and how food is naturally produced. Below are the simplest and best ways to grow parsnips from cuttings.

When growing parsnips from a cutting, you want to save the top 2.5cm (1inch) of the parsnips to use. It is a bonus if there is still some green on the top, as this will help your cutting sprout faster. Always place the cuttings with the greens pointing upwards. Whichever method you choose, the parsnip top should send out shoots in a few days. Once the roots and shoots are established, you can move the new plant into your garden or a pot by mostly burying the parsnip top in the soil. Make sure the greens are all above ground.

  1. Easy water method
  2. Advanced water method
  3. Easy dirt method
  4. Rock garden method
  5. Newspaper method

1. Easy Water Method

Simply put the parsnip top in a small bowl and add water. Put in enough water so that half the cutting is submerged. Change the water every day or so to keep it fresh.

2. Advanced Water Method

Stick three toothpicks into the sides of the parsnip cutting. Evenly space the toothpicks out so that it looks like a wagon wheel. Suspend the cutting over a glass or dish by resting the toothpicks on the rim of the glass. Fill the glass with water so the bottom of the parsnip is just touching the water. Add more water as needed so the bottom of the parsnip cutting remains touching the water.

Read Next: The best guide to prepare your home for autumn.

3. Easy Dirt Method

Simply half bury the cutting in soil. It should like there is a parsnip growing in the ground. You can put it in a pot or directly into your garden. Water it thoroughly every day so it stays damp.

4. Rock Garden Method

Collect enough rocks to cover the bottom of a flat dish. A pie plate works well. It works best if the rocks are all roughly the same size, or you can use a layer of marbles. Add water so that the rocks are just covered, and set the cuttings on top of the rocks. Add water as needed so the parsnips stay in contact with the water.

This can make an attractive planter or centre piece for your table.

5. Newspaper Method

Put a few layers of newspaper into a tray, such as an old baking sheet. Soak the newspaper with water so that is it saturated, and set the parsnip cuttings on top of the wet newspaper. Keep adding water each day to keep the newspaper from drying out.

Why Grow Parsnips From Cuttings?

Can You Eat Parsnip Greens?

While they won’t kill you, it is not a good idea to eat the greens. Parsnips’ wild cousins are poisonous, and the garden variety contains similar toxins that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Many people find they have to wear gloves while harvesting their parsnips.

Besides that, parsnip greens taste bad.


The main reason to grow parsnips from cuttings is for the flowers. Parsnips are biennials which means they will flower in their second year. Since parsnips are harvested in the first year they will not produce flowers. Planting parsnip cuttings is a great way to allow the parsnip to continue growing and complete its biological lifecycle. A parsnip produces a bell-shaped yellow flower similar to dill.

Not only are parsnip greens and flowers perfect for houseplants or an ornamental garden, but they will also produce seeds that you can plant in your garden (and those seeds will produce parsnips). Parsnip flowers are pollinated by insects so the plants will have to be outdoors at least during the day. It is best to have several plants to improve genetic diversity.

Green Manure

Parsnip tops could be planted in the garden to provide free green manures for other crops. Once the greens have reached a significant size they can be tilled into the garden to decompose and add humus to feed the rest of the garden. Be careful not to plant them near other similar species or they can encourage disease and parasites.

Home Garden Activity

Growing parsnips from cuttings is a great activity to do at home with kids. It is a great way to teach where food comes from and how it grows. Even if your kids are already involved with growing food in the garden, this gives them a chance to see the roots and shoots of a plant actually growing.