Cilantro is a popular herb to grow not only for its flavor but also for its ease of care.
Its leaves, often used in Asian and Mexican cooking, add a remarkable flavor and fragrance to the dish.
Aside from the leaves, the stalk is also edible, making cilantro a worthy addition to any herb garden.
When to plant cilantro? Plant cilantro late in the spring or early fall, approximately 15 days after the last frost. The goal is to avoid exposing the plant to too much heat, which will give it a bitter taste.
Planting Cilantro in Different Climates
Cilantro is a flowering plant from West Asia, North Africa, and the Southern parts of Europe.
It was popular in Greece and ancient Egypt and was cultivated in one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
As a cool-season crop, you will find that it’s easy to grow cilantro in most climates.
With proper care, your cilantro plants will thrive in areas where the temperatures stay between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some varieties can tolerate even colder temperatures, but all types of cilantro will bolt when exposed to temperatures higher than 85 degrees.
For Zones 8 to 9, the best time to plant cilantro is in the fall. This way, you’ll have a good supply until the weather becomes too hot in late spring.
Plant cilantro in the fall or early spring if you’re from the hotter regions in the South and Southwest. If you’re from the North, plant cilantro in late spring.
Choosing Which Cilantro Variety to Grow
Coriander and cilantro are both parts of the same plant. Cilantro generally refers to the plant’s leaves, which are used as herbs.
On the other hand, coriander refers to the plant’s seeds. The seeds are popularly used as a spice in most Asian countries.
While not everyone enjoys its taste, there’s no denying the many health benefits you can get from eating cilantro. This is true for each of its different types.
That said, if you’re unsure which to grow in your garden, here’s what makes each of them unique:
Also called spiny coriander, culantro is a popular ingredient in Asian dishes because of its distinct flavor.
This variety grows best in moist soil and is sometimes used for its medicinal properties. It is believed to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Indian Summer Cilantro
The Indian summer cilantro requires maintenance, so you need to know at least the basics of growing cilantro to grow this herb successfully.
This variety of cilantro is a biennial. It grows up to two feet high and is prone to pests.
3. Leaf Cilantro
Leaf cilantro looks similar to parsley, but they actually taste very different.
Parsley is a bit on the mild side, while leaf cilantro has a very strong taste. Some even describe cilantro’s taste as soapy.
4. Mexican Coriander
The Indian summer cilantro, the Mexican coriander is also a biennial plant. It usually blooms in the summer, attracting butterflies to your garden.
Compared to others, this is the easiest to grow and requires the least maintenance.
5. Potluck Coriander
The potluck coriander has specific care requirements, so it’s more suitable for experienced herb growers.
You’ll need to pay attention not just to sun exposure and watering frequency but also to soil conditions and soil pH.
6. Seed Coriander
The thing to remember about harvesting coriander is that you must put emphasis on whether you will harvest the seeds or the leaves.
If you decide to harvest coriander seeds, always choose a cilantro type that is not bolt resistant.
Many varieties produce seeds a week earlier, even when the growing process is the same, namely the Jantar and Santo coriander.
7. Vietnamese Cilantro
The Vietnamese cilantro has dark and narrow leaves with markings on the sides and smooth edges.
It is mainly used for seasoning, but others use it to treat indigestion and stomach aches.
Because it does not bolt early, this variety is popular for being tastier than your regular cilantro.
Growing Vietnamese cilantro is easy. It thrives in tropical climates but also loves afternoon shade and moisture. This type is best for gardeners in Zones higher than Zone 9.
How To Plant Cilantro
Once you’ve decided which cilantro variety to grow, you can go ahead and start adding it to your herb garden. Here’s how the process goes:
Step 1: Choose the time to plant your cilantro.
The ideal time to start planting your cilantro is all dependent on where you’re from. Cilantro does not tolerate frost and extreme heat, so you need that to keep in mind.
If you live in an area with temperate climates, plant cilantro between March and May just before the summer season starts.
If you happen to be in a tropical climate, your best bet is to grow cilantro in fall, when the climate is dryer and cooler.
One alternative is to start planting cilantro as the summer ends. This will allow cilantro to thrive in the fall.
You can also opt to start seeding indoors and then transfer the plant outside as the weather allows.
Step 2: Prepare your garden.
Find a spot in your garden that receives full sun. Before you do any planting, always rake the land first to flatten it.
Also, the soil should be well-drained and has a pH of around 6.5 to 6.9. Test your soil and adjust it accordingly.
Step 3: Start planting your cilantro seeds.
Scatter the seeds at a depth of about a quarter inch. Plant them in rows one foot apart and place them eight inches apart.
Watering should be done frequently as cilantro seeds require a lot of moisture at first. About one inch of water weekly should do it.
You can expect the seeds to germinate in two to three weeks.
Cilantros grow fast, so remember to plant a new batch every two weeks to have a fresh supply throughout the season.
How To Water Cilantro
Wait for the seedlings to reach two inches high and feed them with organic fertilizer.
The plants only need a quarter cup every 25 feet, so you should observe how much fertilizer you’re putting in.
Again, they need plenty of water at the beginning. However, when you notice that the plants are already established, cut back on the watering.
Cilantro thrives in dry climates, so you should avoid getting the soil soggy while also keeping it damp.
How To Grow Cilantro
In addition to planting and watering, you should also learn how to care for cilantro plants. Here are tried-and-tested tricks that herb gardeners swear by:
1. Do not overcrowd.
To stop the plants from overcrowding, thin the seedlings when they are two inches tall.
When thinning, always leave the stronger and larger plants and only remove the smaller ones.
Put 10 inches of space between the plants. You can use the small plants you removed for cooking.
2. Harvest your cilantro regularly.
The best time to harvest cilantro leaves is before they go to seed or bolt.
To harvest your cilantro, cut off the leaves and stems individually from the plant’s base when the height of the stems is about four to six inches.
To avoid weakening the plant, remember only to cut off less than one-third of the leaves at a time.
After harvesting, continue caring for the plant because it will still grow for at least three cycles.
3. Decide if you want your plants to flower.
Eventually, your coriander plants will flower. This stage in its life will prevent the plant from producing new shoots because its nutrients will be focused on the flower.
Some decide to remove these flowers so that the plant can continue producing more leaves.
If you plan to harvest coriander seeds, you should leave the flowers on the plant. Once they dry, you can harvest the coriander seeds.
You can also choose to leave the seeds as is and let them fall and self-sow. Saving the dried seeds for the next season is also a good option.
How Long Does Cilantro Take To Grow?
As mentioned, cilantro is a fast-growing crop that you will enjoy adding to your herb garden.
In fact, as quickly as 45 days after sowing the seeds, you should have healthy cilantro leaves, stalks, and seeds ready for harvest.
With regular harvesting and the right growing conditions, you can expect to get around two to three cycles in one growing season.
5 Common Cilantro Uses in the Kitchen
Are you still having doubts about growing cilantro? These popular cilantro uses might just help you make up your mind:
1. Upgrade your rice Dish.
Chop up cilantro and mix it with your rice dishes to give it a fresh twist. You can also just scatter them on top of your rice just before serving it.
2. Increase your sour cream’s spiciness.
Chop up cilantro and stir it with your sour cream. You can use this to top stews, soups, and chilis.
3. Add flavor to your oil.
Put cilantro stems inside your oil bottles and allow them to sit for a specific period to encourage the oil to absorb the flavor.
You can then use that cilantro-flavored oil for cooking your pasta or meat dishes.
4. Make coleslaw.
Chop up cilantro and mix it with oil, salt, pepper, and mixed vegetables. This mix can be your go-to side dish for your favorite meals.
5. Flavor your stir-fry.
Chop up cilantro and toss them into your stir-fry to give it an extra kick.
Add the cilantro when you are about to finish cooking your stir-fry for an amazing fresh flavor.
Is Cilantro Worth Growing?
There’s no doubt that cilantro is a wonderful addition to any garden. It is easy to grow and is widely known as a wonder herb.
Wonder herbs are among the world’s healthiest ingredients.
In addition to being healthy, cilantro has a distinct fragrance that gives curries, snacks, and salad dressings a unique twist.
Plus, it has several medicinal uses, including aiding in digestion, acting as an anti-bacterial and antidiabetic agent, detoxifying agent, removing inflammation, and reducing hair fall.