Cilantro is an easy to grow herb that will give every gardener two different flavors from one plant. The cilantro plant produces flavorful leaves that can be used fresh or dried, plus it produces seeds that are dried and known as coriander. Learning how to grow cilantro is easy whether you’re growing from seeds or plants; find out how!
This double-providing herb earns its spot in the home garden and can be grown either indoors or out. This hard-working herb plant can also provide a third benefit – it can be grown as a houseplant. The frilly green leaves are attractive, fragrant, and help to purify indoor air.
Use these tips to successfully grow cilantro at home.
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When To Grow Cilantro
Not sure when to grow cilantro? Well, rest assured, cilantro can be grown year-round in an indoor container placed in a sunny location.
When growing in an outdoor garden, wait until spring after most danger of frost has passed before planting cilantro seeds. Cilantro does like cooler, but not cold, temperatures and has the tendency to bolt when temperatures get too hot.
A second crop of cilantro can also be grown outdoors when the weather cools down in late summer. Count back 70 days from the first predicted frost date of fall in your area and plant seeds near that date for a fall harvest. If you let your last cilantro planting go to seed, then chances are more cilantro may spring up on its own!
How to Start With Cilantro Seeds
Gardeners can grow cilantro from seeds indoors or outdoors. But do note, this herb plant develops a long taproot and does not like to be transplanted. So once you’ve planted your seeds, it’s best to leave the plants that grow where they are.
Start the seeds in the location where you want them to grow all season. To use succession planting ,sow seeds every two weeks for a longer harvest. This will give you a continual supply of cilantro all season long!
Ideal Soil Conditions for Cilantro
Loose soil that contains plenty of compost is ideal for growing cilantro. Work the compost into the soil to 18-inches deep or use containers that are at least 18-inches deep to accommodate the long taproot. (Want to get started composting? Check out my guide here!)
Cilantro also loves the sun, so select a growing location in full or part sun that has compost-rich, well-draining soil. If you live in a particularly hot location, then consider a spot in the part sun to help prevent your cilantro from bolting too soon.
Caring For Cilantro Plants
Once plants are at least two inches tall, they can be fertilized. This is up to gardener preference, since the compost should also provide helpful nutrients. If you’d like to fertilize your cilantro plants, I recommend Espoma organic fertilizer as a great general plant food for your garden.
Pinch the top of the plant off when it reaches 6-inches tall to encourage more leaf growth. This will keep your cilantro from becoming long and leggy. Also, keep the flower heads pinched off unless you want the herb to develop seeds, which can also affect the flavor of the leaves.
Water when soil is dry and apply water at the plant base. Avoid watering the leaves themselves as this can cause issues for the plant.
The fragrance of cilantro herb naturally repels pests and the plants have very few disease issues. So rejoice that there’s an easy to grow herb that isn’t susceptible to pests and disease! Can we just grow an entire garden of cilantro?
How To Harvest Cilantro Leaves and Seeds
Are you excited to finally use the leaves of your cilantro plant? The leaves of this herb will be ready to harvest in 60-70 days. The seeds (coriander) will take a few more weeks and will be ready to harvest in 100 days.
Harvest the upper leaves of the plant by snipping them off. The lower leaves are the older ones and will be a little tougher, but they’re still good to use. The younger leaves can be eaten stem and all, while the older leaves should be removed from the stem if you want to avoid tougher pieces in your recipe.
One of our favorite recipes for using fresh cilantro is fresh pico de gallo. It’s a spring and summer favorite at our house and never lasts long!
To harvest seeds, cut the top of the stems when the seedpods begin to turn brown and crack if pressed. Place cut stems and seedpods in a paper bag so seeds will be caught and place in a dark, well-ventilated, cool place for 2-weeks. Pods can be shaken or rolled around in your hands to release the seeds.
To save the seeds for planting next year, store them in a cool, dry place. If you’re looking for ideas for seed storage, check out my post with creative seed storage ideas!
How to Store Extra Cilantro in the Fridge
I typically only like to cut what I’m going to use, but what if you cut more cilantro that your recipe requires? Simply place the cut ends of the stems in a glass of water. Place a clear plastic bag, think thin sandwich bag, over the top of the leaves and place in the fridge. Your cilantro should stay fresh for up to a week when stored this way.
I’d love to know if you grow cilantro at home, and if you have tips for my other readers, leave them below! Have a great week and happy gardening!
- Cilantro Seeds
- Potting Soil
- Fertilizer (optional)
- Raised bed or container
- Watering Can or hose
- Be sure it is the proper season for growing cilantro in your area. The weather should be cool but not cold. Choose a planting location that is in full to part sun, which cilantro loves.
- Prepare the planting area by working compost into the soil. The soil should be loose and if you're using a container, be sure it is at least 18 inches deep.
- Moisten soil and prepare the planting area by digging down a few inches.
- Place seeds in prepared place and gently cover with soil. Water well.
- Keep planting area lightly watered until seedlings begin to emerge. Then water your cilantro occasionally as the soil becomes dry. Be sure to water around the plant, not on top of it.
- Optional: fertilize the cilantro plants once they are taller than 2 inches. Use a good, organic fertilizer such as Espoma. (See the link below.)
- Harvest cilantro once fully developed by cutting with kitchen shears or sharp snips.
- Store extra cilantro cuttings in the refrigerator. Set the stems in a cup of water and cover the leaves with a plastic bag.
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