An annual herb used extensively in Latin, Asian and Indian cooking, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is also known as coriander (although this usually refers to the seeds) and Chinese parsley. Aromatic, pungent and versatile, cilantro is technically both an herb and a spice since both the leaves and the seeds are used.
Why should learn how to grow cilantro? A care-free cook's dream, it's hard to ruin a recipe with this unique herb. Throwing a few handfuls of fresh chopped cilantro in homemade guacamole or tacos adds authenticity and depth to otherwise run-of-the-mill flavors.
How to Plant Cilantro
Learning how to grow cilantro is fairly straightforward. For the most part, cilantro's hardy enough that as long as you put your coriander seeds in even so-so soil, you're practically guaranteed a crop. Even so, when you're ready to plant your cilantro seeds, keep the following in mind:
- Sow in well-drained soil, with shallow drills 1 cm – 1/2 in deep.
- Plant and/or thin to 4 to 8 inches apart.
- Coriander tends to bolt (go to seed) early if it gets too hot or too dry, so be sure to water well, especially in extreme heat.
How to Grow Cilantro
A fairly fuss-free annual herb, there's really not much to growing cilantro from seed. Once your seedlings have rooted, be sure to:
- Stake stalks to prevent toppling.
- If growing for leaves only, dead head and snip off flower stems as they form.
- If possible, don't transplant. (Coriander doesn't transplant well.)
How to Harvest Cilantro and Coriander
If you just want the leaves, you can snip the stems and leaves as they grow or pluck the entire plant. Stem, stalks and even roots are edible and great tasting.
If you want to collect coriander seeds, wait until the leaves are brown, cut the whole plant and hang it to dry. As the plant continues to dry out, the seeds will fall and can be collected.
(Images graciously supplied by mathey and salsachica. Thanks!)