How To Grow Cilantro
One of our favorite herbs, Cilantro (also known as Coriander in seed form) is easy to grow and has an incredibly unique flavor, especially when it’s picked fresh from the garden! Cilantro is a staple in many Asian and Mexican dishes, giving them an exotic taste, especially in fresh salsa! Buying organic cilantro at the grocery store can be quite expensive (up to $4.00 a bundle depending on your location) and tends to go bad rather quickly. Growing cilantro yourself will not only save you money, it tastes better and will last much longer.
Planting CilantroIt's best to sow seed directly into the garden in March or after the danger of frost has passed. You can also replant in early fall. Just remember that cilantro is a cool weather plant, once temperatures reach 75 F, it will start to bolt (go to seed). This isn't a bad thing, once the seeds are completely formed you'll have a supply of fresh coriander! Starting cilantro indoors and transplanting can cause it to bolt or worse yet, flop over and die. Some people like to soak the seeds for 24 hours prior to planting to increase germination, though we have found this unnecessary. Cilantro doesn't require many nutrients, we usually mix a bit of compost/manure into the soil and call it good...no fertilizer normally is needed. Once you bed is prepared, make a 1/4" depression into the soil and plant your seeds 1" apart. After your seeds are in, cover them with a layer of fine soil, gently pat your soil and you're ready to water! With most plants, we like to use soaker hoses as they will not wash your tiny seeds away, though a watering wand on the lightest setting works as well. Regardless, give them a good soaking and you should be well on your way to growing cilantro!
Caring For CilantroCilantro is an easy plant to care for, just make sure you keep the soil evenly moist, not soaked. When your seedlings are an inch tall, thin out to weaker seedlings, leaving 3-4" of space between plants. Once your plants are established, a layer of mulch can help to retain moisture. Cilantro doesn't require many nutrients so we avoid adding fertilizer. Once daily temps reach around 75 degrees, your plants will start to bolt. This is completely fine, let them go to seed. You won't have a supply of cilantro anymore, but you will have a supply of fresh coriander!
Harvesting CilantroThis is where the confusion comes in. If you harvest the leaves, it's called Cilantro. If you harvest the seeds, it's called Coriander. Either way, they're both delicious in the kitchen. You can "prune" your plants with a sharp knife or scissors, only selecting the oldest outer leaves, cutting them at the base of the stems (this way your plant will continue to grow), or cut the entire plant off at the base. It can keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks if you wrap it with a damp paper towel, however, within a few days after harvesting as they tend to loose flavor rapidly.
Cilantro PestsWith many herbs, pests aren't much of an issue, cilantro seems to be a bit too "spicy" for them.
Cilantro DiseasesPowdery mildew (though it's rare)
Cilantro VarietiesSlow Bolt, Chinese, Richters Long, Autumn
Tips For Growing CilantroSince Cilantro won't re-sprout once cut, plant every 2-3 weeks for a constant supply. If you're harvesting seed (Coriander), place seed heads in a sack for about a week to dry. Cilantro is an excellent self-seeder if the soil is left relatively undisturbed. Simply let your unused plants go to seed, the dropped seeds will overwinter and sprout again during the spring!