Tips for Growing Cilantro

How to Grow Coriander

Simple tips for growing cilantro from seed or nursery plants. How to cultivate coriander (the seeds of the cilantro plant). Advice for raising coriander indoors in a pot.

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Coriander Plant Facts:

C. sativum is an annual herb which matures to a height of 2 feet.

Lacy white, pink, or lilac flower heads appear above the branched stems in early summer.

The tiny blossoms are followed by 1/8", round, light brown fruit which is used as a kitchen spice.

Coriander and cilantro are different parts of the Coriandrum sativum plant. The leaves of this plant are called cilantro, its seeds are known as coriander. 

Early in the growing season, plants will produce only leaves.  Seed production only begins once the plants begin to bolt in response to summer's heat.  Each cilantro plant can be expected to crank out about 1/4 cup of coriander seeds.

If all you want is the flavorful leaves, plant a slow bolting variety like Calypso (for sale above) and cut the leaves regularly to keep the plants from setting seed for as long as possible.  Each plant will yield about half a cup of leaves.  You can begin harvesting them when the plants are 4-6 inches tall.

If all you want is the seeds, do not plant a slow bolt type or harvest the leaves.  You'll get the aromatic, ribbed seeds you adore in about 60 days.

Coriander Cilantro Growing Tips

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  1. Cilantro prefers dry weather.  Heat, humidity, and frequent rain make it difficult to grow in Florida and along the Gulf Coast of the United States.
  2. Elsewhere, plant it in full sun in any free-draining soil of average fertility and it will crop like a champ.
  3. Plants become top-heavy as they mature, so wind protection is necessary to keep them upright.

Growing Cilantro Indoors in Pots

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Growing cilantro plants inside will protect them from excess wind and rain and may be the only practical solution for Gulf Coast gardeners during a rainy summer.  The challenge for indoor growers will be providing the plants with sufficient light.

If you have a greenhouse window or a sky light, this is the perfect use for it.  Otherwise, you will need to place the container under a grow light for several hours per day.

Use 6" clay pots filled with any good quality potting soil.

It is best to feed herb plants with organic fertilizers like compost tea or fish emulsion.  These are messy--and stinky--substances that you probably would not want to use indoors, so compromise is in order here.  Give indoor coriander plants a 1/4 strength dose of whatever you use on your other houseplants once a month.

How to Plant Coriander Seeds

To keep the leaves coming, sow seeds at 6 week intervals.

Sow seeds in late spring after the last frost.  Plant the seeds 1/2" to 3/4" deep in rows.  Once the seedlings reach a height of 2 inches, thin them to stand 8-10 inches apart.

Seedlings will begin to bloom in about nine weeks.

Harvesting Coriander Seeds

Whole dried coriander seeds poster.

Coriander's flavor intensifies in storage, but decreases rapidly once the seeds are ground.

 Cut off all the top growth with the seed pods still attached.  Place the whole harvested portion, leaves and all, into a paper bag to dry.  This is best achieved by placing the bag in a warm, dark closet for a few days.

Once the seed pods have dried, shake them inside the bag to encourage them to fall from the plant stems.  Then, take the dried seed pods out of the bag and rub them between your palms over a white paper plate to split the pods and cause the seeds to fall out.

Store coriander seeds in glass jars.

Related Pages:

What to Use as a Cilantro Substitute in Cooking

Discover Coriander's Health Benefits

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