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Tips to Grow Cilantro

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Want to add fresh, flavorful cilantro to your meals? Learn how to grow cilantro at home with our easy-to-follow guide, including tips from selecting the best location to preventing cilantro from bolting.

If you’re a fan of fresh and citrusy flavors, you’ll want to learn how to grow cilantro. Not only does it offer a delicious taste to your meals, but you also get two food products for the price of one – the leafy cilantro and the edible coriander seeds.

The flavor of cilantro foliage can be described as pungent and citrusy, with a slightly sweet and earthy undertone. Some people also detect a soapy or metallic taste, which is believed to be due to a genetic variation that makes them sensitive to certain compounds found in cilantro. Overall, the flavor of cilantro is unique and can add a fresh and bright note to salsa and Mexican foods.

Now, I know cilantro has a unique taste that not everyone is a fan of, but even if you’re not crazy about the flavor, cilantro is still a great addition to your garden. It has beautiful foliage resembling delicate ferns and can help keep pests at bay while attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

And let’s not forget about the coriander seeds. These little gems have a completely different flavor and can be used as a spice in various dishes, like pickles, chili con carne, and other seasoning mixes. Talk about versatility!

So, whether you’re a cilantro fan or not, there are plenty of reasons to grow it in your garden. In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about growing cilantro at home, whether you’re planting it in a dedicated herb garden, as a companion to other crops, or in containers.

About Cilantro

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is an annual herb that is a member of the Apiaceae family, which also includes parsley, carrots, dill, and celery. It has delicate, lacy leaves and a distinctive aroma often described as citrusy or earthy.

Cilantro is native to regions of the Mediterranean and Asia, and North Africa. The herb has been used in cooking for thousands of years and has a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

The ancient Egyptians used cilantro in their embalming celebrations, and the Romans used it as a seasoning for their food. In the Middle Ages, cilantro was prized for its medicinal properties and was used to treat digestive problems, as well as to mask unpleasant odors.

Today, cilantro is commonly used in many different cuisines, including Mexican, Indian, and Thai. Its bright, fresh flavor pairs well with a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and salsas.

Common Types of Cilantro

There are several different types of cilantro that you can grow in your garden, both for foliage and seeds. Here are some varieties of cilantro to consider growing:

Caribe cilantro is prized for its long stems and resistance to bolting, which means it can be harvested for a longer period of time.

Long Standing Santo cilantro has dark green leaves with a slightly stronger flavor than other varieties. It is also slow to bolt, making it a good choice for those gardening in warmer climates.

Leisure cilantro has thin stems and delicate leaves and is known for its slow bolting. It has a mild flavor that is not as pungent as some other varieties.

These are just a few of the many cilantro varieties available. When choosing a variety, consider the flavor, bolting time, and your growing conditions to find the best fit for your garden.

Tips for Growing Cilantro

When it comes to cilantro, it’s best to direct sow from seeds rather than purchasing transplants. The plants are incredibly sensitive to root disturbance, which can cause them to bolt prematurely after transplanting. Even the process of removing the seedling from its cell pack can trigger this issue, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.

I have successfully started seeds indoors using soil blocks, though. Planting the whole block eliminates the root disruption that can trigger the plants to go to seed.

However, if you’re not using soil blocks, it’s best to direct sow the seeds in your garden or container. This will help ensure a healthy and happy cilantro plant for all your culinary needs. Use these tips for successfully growing cilantro in your home garden:

When to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro is a cool-weather herb that likes temperatures between 50 to 85˚F. Planting in the spring or fall is ideal, as hot summer weather can cause it to bolt prematurely.

Direct sow seeds in spring after all peril of heavy frost has passed. Succession sow seeds every 3 weeks for a continuous harvest until the weather warms. Then begin sowing again in the fall. Established plants can handle light frosts, and you can extend your harvests by offering some frost protection.

Garden Selection and Soil Prep

Before planting cilantro, prepare the garden bed by removing weeds and adding organic matter like finished compost to improve soil drainage and fertility. Cilantro is not picky about soil pH but needs well-draining soil to thrive.

How to Start Cilantro from Seed

Cilantro seeds are unique in that they are actually composed of two seeds contained in a husk, which is round and light brown in color. You can plant whole seeds or gently crush each seed to release the two seeds inside, which are flattened and ribbed.

Soak the seeds: Before planting, soak cilantro seeds in water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat.

Plant the seeds: Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep in well-draining soil and water thoroughly. Space the seeds about 1 inch apart.

Wait for germination: Cilantro seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days.

Thin the seedlings: Once the plants are about 2 inches tall, thin them to 6 inches apart to give them room to grow.

Repeat: Start a new batch of seeds every 3 weeks to keep a steady supply of cilantro growing.

Cilantro prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. So look for a spot in your garden with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.

And remember, if you’re using soil blocks to start your cilantro seeds, you can plant the whole block in the garden to avoid disturbing the roots and triggering premature bolting.