Growing Chervil in Northeast Florida Gardens

(Anthriscus cerefolium, Anthriscus longirostris)

Chervil Herb Plants For Northeast Florida Origins:

Chervil, or French Parsley, or Gourmet Parsley, as it may more commonly be called, is a member of the carrot family. It is a native of the Caucasus area between Europe and Asia. Although an easy to grow herb for the Northeast Florida , Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden, it is not easy to find growing as a potted plant.

Chervil is a little grown herb in America. It is often overlooked by stronger flavored herbs, but it’s delicate scent and flavor is prized in French cuisine’s. Perhaps the best known dish, to get you familiar with this herb, is Bernaise sauce, a version of Hollandaise, that owes it’s delicate flavorings to the use of Chervil. Chervil’s flavor can be easily overpowered by other stronger flavors and, as a result, is most frequently used to season eggs, fish, chicken, soups and butters. Use it fresh in salads, or as an ingredient in herbed vinagrettes.

The flavor is hard to describe, but often touted as delicate, soft, warm, gentle, or mild. The flavor is described as having soft undertones of anise, tarragon, and even fennel.

Growing Season for Chervil / Anthriscus cerefolium in Northeast Florida:

Chervil can be planted from seed in the fall in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area, but may need protection from a frost with a row cover when temperatures drop below freezing for prolonged periods of time or on newly sprouted seedlings.

Considered a cool season annual here in Northeast Florida, you can grow Chervil in fall, winter and spring.

Chervil will have a tendency to bolt or go to seed production when the weather warms in late spring. Pinch off flowers to keep the plants energies focused on vegetative growth. Or you may decide to allow your Chervil plants to go to seed and harvest for the next seasons crop.

Sun Exposure for Chervil / Anthriscus cerefolium in Northeast Florida:

Plant Chervil in partially shaded locations in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida garden.

Soil Preference for Chervil for the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida area garden :

Moist, but well draining soils. Very similar growing conditions to parsley herb.

When planting Chervil into the ground, amend the soil generously with compost, as it acts as a sponge and helps to keep the soil moist and well drained. Parsley planted into the ground during the summer months will suffer root rot during the rainy season if the soil is not well drained. (Planting under root thirsty trees will alleviate this problem, but you will have to remember to water well when not raining, just as you would with potted herbs).

Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Chervil Herb Plants:

Newly planted seeds will require watering every day until the set of mature leaves emerges, then taper back to three times a week, then twice a week for in-ground plants and three to four times a week for plants potted into decorative containers.

In General, Herbs need little fertilizer. To much fertilizer can lead to lush green growth with low volitale oils in the plant, less oils equals less flavor and aroma for your herbs. However, when planting into Floridas sandy soils you may find your plants in need of a boost. If so, try fertilizing with a mixture of organic fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution. If your leaves still look a bit lackluster consider a bit of blood meal fertilizer.

Or, if you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.

Size of Chervil When Mature:

Chervil herb plants will grow to 18 inches high and wide.

Sowing Chervil Herb / Petroselinum Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:

Chervil plants self – sow readily into the garden. If planting from seeds, leave them exposed on the surface of the soil, and just tamp them in lightly. Be sure to keep them moist, the seeds shouls take upt to 10 days to grminate.

Harvesting Your Chervil / Anthriscus cerefolium in the Northeast Florida Landscape:

Chervil plants foliage can be harvested at any time during the growing season. Clip off leaves and stems as needed harvesting outer foliage first. Chervil is best harvested and used fresh.

Blooms and Seeds of Chervil / Anthriscus cerefolium for Northeast Florida Landscape:

When growing Chervil as an annual, or after harvesting for a few seasons, you can stop cutting your Chervil leaves in summer, and allow your plant to go to flower so that it will set seeds. The seeds are about a quarter of an inch long and look similar to miniature, or little tiny sticks.

Chervil, even when not in bloom, is one of the prettiest herbs you can grow. The delicate lacelike foliage is similar in appearance to parsley but lighter apple green in color and with more pronounced or deeply cut leaves, giving it an almost lacelike appearance. Leaves may be flat or slightly curled depending on the variety.

The blooms are creamy white umbels and stand atop the foliage in summer. Really a very pretty plant.