By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you familiar with the herb, chervil? It’s also commonly known as French parsley because they resemble each other. Many people aren’t familiar with this herb because it isn’t something you find while strolling through your grocery store.
It’s mostly used in French cuisine and is frequently compared to parsley or tarragon in flavor. If you’re interested in adding this unique herb to your indoor herb garden, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll provide the basics of what you must know to grow this herb indoors. Here’s how you can grow chervil in your home.
What You Might Need to Grow Chervil Indoors
Chervil is a simple plant to grow indoors. You’ll need an appropriate growing container which can accommodate the plant’s tap root.
You’ll also need a flat surface for the plant to grow on. This could be sitting the planter on the floor, near a sunny window, where it can receive indirect sunlight.
However, if you don’t have enough light in your home for growing chervil, you may always use a grow light. LED lighting systems work as well.
You’ll need a place to hang the light a foot above the plant and a flat surface for the plant to sit on beneath it.
Finally, you must have well-draining soil. As you’ll learn, root rot is a potential threat to this herb. Having the right growing medium can help avoid this.
By providing a safe space for the planter to sit, an adequate planter, lighting, and well-draining soil, chervil should have what it needs to grow in your home.
Growing Conditions for Growing Chervil Indoors
Chervil is a cool weather crop which is typically hardy in planting zones three through seven. The herb grows best in temperatures between 55- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit. When growing this herb indoors, it should be grown in a container.
The plant is related to both carrots and parsley. That means it has a longer tap root which the planter must accommodate. For this reason, pick a container that’s a foot deep and approximately a foot wide.
Once you have the container picked out, be sure to fill it with quality, well-draining soil. It would be wise to add a touch of peat moss to the container to help retain an adequate amount of moisture without harming the plant.
Your planter is ready to go, but where should you place it? Chervil likes to grow in indirect sunlight. You can go about this multiple ways.
The first method for providing shade is to plant chervil with other herbs. If you placed chervil in the center of a planter with tarragon, parsley, or chives, planted around it, the other herbs should provide enough shade for the plant to thrive in a sunny window.
However, if this isn’t an option for you, pick a place in your home where the plant can be provided six hours of indirect sun.
If you don’t have this much sunlight shining into your home, you can use grow lights. Be sure the lights are a foot above the plant at all times to avoid supplying too much light. Also, remember that for every hour of sunlight you’re supplementing, the plant will need two hours under a grow or LED light.
You now know what chervil needs to grow properly in your home. Try to replicate the plant’s needs as closely as possible, and the herb should be off to a great start.
How to Plant Chervil Indoors
As mentioned earlier, chervil is part of the carrot and parsley family. This matters for the container you choose and also for the method of planting you use.
Chervil should be planted from seed and directly sown into the planter where it’ll be growing inside your home. This plant has a tap root which doesn’t like to be disturbed once developed. Dig a small trench, approximately ¼ inch deep or less, and sprinkle the seeds into the planter.
Lightly cover the seeds and mist the soil with water using a spray bottle. The soil should remain consistently damp but never soaked during the germination process.
Germination for chervil seeds can take anywhere from one to two weeks. Once the plants have reached three inches in height, it’s time to thin them.
If you’re growing chervil in a round container, you need only one plant. If you’re growing in an elongated container, you can grow as many as three plants. Pick the strongest plant or plants from the seeds and use scissors to cut the remaining plants off at soil level.
If you enjoy consistently having fresh chervil on hand, succession plant the herb one time per month using the instructions above. Now that you have chervil growing in your containers, it’s time to learn how to properly care for this herb throughout the growing process.
How to Care for Chervil Indoors
Chervil will only require three things from you. They include water, fertilizer, and pruning. Let’s start with how to water chervil.
This herb, like many plants, should be watered using the deep watering method. This method is recommended because it allows you to ensure the plant receives the necessary amount of water without overdoing it.
Place the planter in your kitchen sink and spray water over the soil until the water is coming out of the bottom of the container. Allow the container to finish draining in the kitchen sink before putting it back in its growing location. Wait until the soil looks dry before testing it.
When the soil of the plant appears dry, stick your finger into the dirt. If it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to apply more water. If the soil is still moist beneath the surface, wait a day or two to test the moisture level again before applying more water.
Deep watering usually only happens one to three times per week. This will depend upon the type of planter you use, as terra cotta pots tend to hang on to moisture longer than plastic planters. The next step in caring for chervil is to apply fertilizer. It should be an all-purpose fertilizer that has been diluted by 50%. Follow all the instructions on the bottle to ensure you apply the fertilizer accurately.
Finally, chervil should be pruned frequently at the top of the plant. This will stop or slow the process of bolt while also encouraging new and fuller growth.
Chervil bolts easily because it prefers cooler weather. The slightest increase in temperature can signal the plant that it’s time to begin producing seed. If you notice bolt is starting to happen, move the plant out of the sun and into a cooler location to prolong its life span.
This is also why it’s a good idea to succession plant chervil throughout the year. It ensures you always have it on hand even if other plants decide to bolt.
These are the only items chervil needs in its care. If you can supply food, water, and pruning for this herb, you should have a positive growing experience.
Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact Chervil Indoors
There are only a few minor pests and diseases you must concern yourself with when raising this herb. The pests which commonly impact chervil are slugs and aphids.
Aphids can be sprayed with an insecticidal soap, and slugs can be discouraged by placing diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant. When they crawl over it, the soil becomes a dangerous terrain for them.
The diseases which most commonly impact chervil are damping off and root rot. Damping off is a fungal disease which kills seedlings.
Once your seedlings develop the disease there’s no saving them. However, you can deter the disease from the beginning by sprinkling cinnamon over the soil, avoiding overwatering your seedlings, and placing them in a well-lit area while they’re growing. This will avoid wet, cold soil which is a breeding ground for fungal diseases. Root rot occurs when the chervil plant has been overwatered.
Make sure the soil the herb is growing in is well-draining and that you use the deep watering method to avoid overwatering your plant. By staying alert to these few potential issues, you’re giving your chervil plants the greatest chance at thriving under your care.
How to Harvest Chervil
Chervil plants can grow to be as tall as one to two feet in height. Therefore, the plants shouldn’t be harvested until they’re around a half foot tall.
Once the plant reaches the appropriate size, you can harvest it by using scissors to cut foliage from the herb, starting at the top.
After the foliage is removed, you may use the herb fresh. This isn’t a great herb for drying because it diminishes the flavor.
You now know how to grow chervil from seed, care for it, and harvest the herb while it’s growing inside your home.
Hopefully, these tips will help you have an enjoyable growing experience and help you to realize the gardening season never really has to end. When the weather is no longer cooperative outdoors, move your plants inside for a longer growing period.