Why should you learn how to grow cilantro? A care-free cook’s dream, it’s hard to ruin a recipe with this unique, versatile 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.
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.
- Sow in well-drained soil, with shallow drills 1 cm – 1/2 in deep.
- Plant and/or thin to 4 to 8 inches apart.
Tips for Growing 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. (Cilantro doesn’t transplant well.)
- Cilantro 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.
Harvesting Cilantro and Coriander
Few herbs have the strong scent and unique flavor that fresh cilantro has. How you harvest will depend on whether you’re harvesting just for the herb (cilantro) or for the spice (coriander) too.
- 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.
For growing specifications for growing cilantro (like preferred soil pH, planting depths and germination rates), check out the Gardening Guides page.