Cilantro is an herb that has a lot of benefits for your health, and you can grow it in your garden. However, there are some things that you need to know about the plant before growing it. It is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley.
You can use cilantro as part of many dishes like soups, salads, or even stir-fries. It has a very distinct smell which makes food taste better. But aside from its culinary uses, this herb also has other benefits, such as reducing stress and blood pressure levels while boosting memory and concentration.
And if you're new to gardening, don't worry because cilantro is a great plant to start with, especially if you have limited space since it only grows up to 12 inches tall. Plus, cilantro seeds are easy to find online, so all you'll need after buying them would be some soil and sunlight. Here are how to successfully grow this wonderful herb:
Choose the Right Location Where they will thrive
Since cilantro can grow in almost any kind of soil, you could even plant them in pots and boxes. However, make sure not to plant them near dill or fennel since it will cause the cilantro plants to emit a scent similar to soap. Plus, if they're planted near tomatoes, they may absorb some of the substances and flavor of tomatoes, which could alter their taste. Talking about tomatoes, you can learn how to prune your tomatoes and improve your yield.
Plant Them in a Good Soil
The soil must be well-drained because too much water can cause cilantro to rot or grow mold. You can buy garden soil or make your own by mixing equal parts of potting soil with perlite and peat moss. If you decide to use seed pot and starter soil, it's best to mix them with perlite and pots for better results. Don’t forget to test the soil pH and grow your cilantro in perfect soil.
Plant one to two seeds in a small pot and put them in warm weather. Sow seeds where they'll have some shade because cilantro prefers light shade over the full sun. Once the cilantro sprouts, then you can transfer them to bigger pots.
Water Your Seeds Well
Water your seeds with lukewarm water every week because they need moisture to germinate. You can expect them to sprout in 7-10 days when the weather is warm. However, if you don't have good soil, your cilantro may grow mold or rot instead of sprouting. Keep the soil moist but don't allow it to become waterlogged.
And if the soil dries before the seed germinates, move your plant to an area with little shade. Allow your plant to grow two inches tall. As soon as you see peat pots, give your seedlings some water.
Transfer Your Plant into Container
Once your coriander is tall enough, you can move it to its home, which is the container. This herb does well in garden beds with organic and non-organic soil. They also do well in containers. Whether you choose organic soil or containers, make sure your cilantro plant will have a new home with sunny and lightly shaded.
If the area is too shaded, your cilantro plant may fail to produce healthy and hearty cilantro. Once you have your cilantro plant, make sure not to place it too close to other plants or objects, as coriander does not do well in crowded areas. Plant your cilantro 6 to 8 inches apart from each other.
Cilantro needs moist soil to develop its healthiest and most productive root system. Avoid applying fertilizers on young seedlings, but if you already have older cilantro plants, apply water-soluble fertilizer once or twice a month.
Harvest Your Cilantro
It takes three to four weeks for your cilantro seedlings to grow into cilantro plants. Once a week, you can cut a few inches from the plant's stem to promote new growth and better flavor. It only takes 45 days from the time you plant your seeds to harvesting your herb.
There is no specific way of harvesting your cilantro, but most people prefer to use scissors when harvesting cilantro. Be sure to cut the stems off just above the surface of the soil, close enough that you are cutting into new growth. You can cut it as a whole or harvest leaves from the plant.
Maintain Your Cilantro Plant
Cilantro requires some maintenance, even if it's easy to grow. If you want to get the best results, then fertilize your plants with a water-soluble fertilizer. Make sure you don't fertilize anything until the seedlings are at least two inches tall. If you want it to fill out, pinch back the leaves frequently.
Like with many other herbs, you can pinch out the main growing tips of your cilantro plant to produce a bushier plant. This will encourage new growth and make your plant lusher. When your plant reaches six to eight inches, you can harvest some of the leaves for use in food.
Allow Your Cilantro to Spread Out
Once your cilantro plants flowers, it will produce seeds. This is the best time to cut off the flower heads since this will encourage lower branches to grow fruiting stems. This is important, especially if you'll use cilantro frequently. The seed may die after seeding, so it's good to have few extra plants on hand. Let one or two coriander seeds; then those seeds will self-sow in your garden.
You can harvest cilantro for up to six weeks. After six weeks, the number of leaves it produces will be significantly smaller, so you may want to let another plant take its place in your garden or pot. When harvesting, don't take all of the leaves at once since this will leave your plant vulnerable to disease and pests.
Once you know how to grow cilantro, you need to know how to harvest cilantro as well. You can start to harvest leaves once the plants are around 6 inches tall. Harvest by cutting the outside leaves. Once you have harvested enough for a recipe, let those plants keep growing so they can produce more leaves for your next harvest.
Cilantro stems and leaves are very delicate; therefore, you should use them while still fresh at the end of your cooking. To store your plant for future use, place cilantro stems in a jar or glass of water and cover them with a plastic bag. Put it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cilantro leaves do not store as well as stems, so you should avoid drying them since they will lose flavor.
You can also freeze the stems and leaves individually or in an ice cube tray. Cilantro's peak growing season is during late spring and early summer months when your temperatures are steadily rising. Be sure to plant your cilantro in rich soil with nutritious compost, and do not skimp on the water since these little beauties are very sensitive.
Harvest cilantro leaves in the morning or evening when the plant is dry and fresh. Cut off 1/3 to 1/2 of your leaves when you are ready to cook with them. The faster they grow back, the better their flavor will be. And allowing them to flower will leave you with tasteless herbs.
Coriander seeds can be harvested when they're young and green or wait until they turn brown. You can pick the green seeds directly from the plant or harvest brown seeds, then use a paper bag to hang the flower heads upside down.
Some people like their coriander spicier than others, so if you want seeds with a stronger flavor, leave the flowers on longer (or let them go to seed). If you'd rather have less.
How to Maintain Cilantro Plant
Cilantro is an annual plant, meaning that you can plant it in succession to extend the cropping season. In mild climates, it can be planted all year long. When it comes to maintenance, it can be planted in neutral to acidic, well-drained soil. Keep it in moist soil but not waterlogged. Cilantro has few pest problems, including common aphids, leaf miners, whiteflies, and spider mites.
When you notice holes in the leaves caused by flies, lay down some powdered cumin around the base of the plant. This will repel most pests without harming your plant. If necessary, use neem oil or horticultural oil on the leaves.
Cilantro is susceptible to root rot, black rot, anthracnose, and gray mold. To avoid these diseases, use a 3-year rotation plan with each plant in its container. Keep the soil moist but let it dry out between watering.
FAQs on How to Grow Cilantro
How do you grow cilantro from seeds?
The first step in learning how to grow cilantro is to plant the seeds. Use a soilless seed-starting mix and sow the seeds on the surface of the moist medium. Use your finger to make shallow rows and cover them with approximately 1/4 inch of soil. Keep the soil medium moist but not wet, and keep it at about 75 F degrees. It should take between 4-7 days for cilantro seeds to germinate.
Where is the best place to store cilantro?
Cilantro can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. This herb usually lasts longer when it's frozen, so you may want to freeze them before they wilt or brown. You can also wrap fresh cilantro with a wet paper bag and store it in the refrigerator.
Final Thought on How to Grow Cilantro
In summary, cilantro is a special herb with many health benefits. Cilantro tastes excellent in salads and soups or added to sandwiches and tacos. You can also use them as garnishes for desserts such as cupcakes and cakes. Finally, you may preserve them by freezing or drying them. If you do not like chopping cilantro, you can also use them in their dried form.