How to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro is commonly used in southwestern or Mexican dishes, where it lends its distinctive flavor in recipes and also serves as a popular garnish. Because cilantro is short lived and requires cool growing conditions, it has a reputation for being a difficult herb to grow. However, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way for success in the garden! Here’s what you need to do to grow your own plot of cilantro.

Before You Plant

Choose the Right Type of Cilantro:

  • Common, or Santo, cilantro (Coriandum Sativum) prefers the cooler growing conditions of spring and fall.
  • Vietnamese cilantro (Polygonum odoratum) is a variety that performs in warmer weather.
  • Mexican cilantro (Eryngium foetidum) will grow in the heat when kept shaded and in moist soil.

Find a Suitable Place:

  • Cilantro prefers plenty of sunlight, although morning sun and afternoon shade will slow the bolting of the plant.
  • Ensure enough room so that plants can be spaced 6”-12” apart.
  • The area should drain well.

Prepare the soil:

  • Cilantro prefers moist, well drained soil. Amend sandy soil with organic matter and topsoil, or lighten heavy clay with sandy material. Soil should hold moisture but drain well.
  • Ordinary potting soil is ideal for growing cilantro in containers.

Planting/Growing Cilantro

What You Will Need:

  • Cilantro seeds
  • Prepared soil
  • Peat pots (for transplanting)

How to Plant Cilantro:

  1. Cilantro is often started indoors, but can be difficult to transplant. For best results, use peat pots that can be planted directly into the garden.
  2. Move plants or start seeds outdoors after danger of frost.
  3. Sow seeds outdoors in loose soil, covering lightly with ¼” of soil.
  4. Water carefully so you don’t wash the seeds away.
  5. Once plants are established, a thick layer of mulch will help to keep the soil temperature down and increase the useful life of your plants.
  6. Most gardeners sow a new batch of seeds in the garden every three weeks to maintain a patch of fresh cilantro.

Pruning/Harvesting Cilantro

Cilantro requires very basic, although consistent, care to thrive.

What You Will Need:

  • Garden clippers or scissors

Steps for Care and Maintenance:

  1. Trim flower heads before they bloom to prolong the harvest time and life of the plant.
  2. You can use the leaves at any time, but they have the best flavor once the plant is 6″ tall.
  3. Cilantro matures in about eight weeks.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If your cilantro plants do bolt, you can harvest the seeds, called coriander, which are staples of the spice cabinet.
  • Cilantro that matures fully in the garden will drop seeds, which will often result in new seedlings.
  • Cilantro loses much of its flavor when dried, so the herb is almost always used fresh.
  • To store cilantro for cooking, wash the leaves and freeze them in a freezer bag. They will lose some of their aesthetic appeal, but will still lend flavor to soups and other hot dishes.

Related Posts

  1. How to Grow Basil

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