How to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), also known as coriander, is a versatile herb that can be used to add flavor to any dish. It is also known for its many health benefits, including being packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. 

Growing cilantro at home can be easy and rewarding – not only will you have fresh herbs on hand for cooking, but you’ll also enjoy the challenge of nurturing your own plants.

Seedlings of cilantro growing in a green container by a window.

How to plant

Seeds should be spaced 1 to 2 inches apart and 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep. Seedlings should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. Rows of cilantro plants should be spaced at least a foot apart to allow for enough ventilation. 

When to plant

Both early spring and late fall are ideal periods to plant cilantro. Allow the summer temps to calm down before planting in the autumn if you aren’t planning on a spring plant. However, in certain areas, you will only be able to collect the leaves and not the seeds before the fall frost.

Where to plant

A good location should have loose and well-drained soil. It can tolerate full sun or light shade but prefers midday shade in hotter areas. Make sure the cilantro isn’t too near to larger plants that may shadow it out when they leaf out in the spring. Cilantro grows well in containers as well.

How to take care

  • Light: Cilantro plant flourishes with around six hours of direct sunshine. However, choose a location that will not receive too much high-noon sunshine, as direct sunlight can scorch its leaves.
  • Water: As seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, keep the soil fairly wet but not waterlogged. For seedlings, 1 inch of water each week is good.
  • Temperature: Cilantro grows best in cold surroundings, favoring temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, despite being a cool-weather herb, it is still frost-sensitive. If unusually chilly weather is forecasted, have row covers on available to protect your plants.

Does cilantro grow back after cutting?

Fortunately, cilantro is a quick-growing plant so it can handle chopping and still keep coming back for more. Each time the leaves are harvested, new ones should regrow within a few days so the entire process can be done several times throughout the growing season. 

In order to get the most out of this hardy herb, cut away no more than half of the stems and make sure that enough of the leaves remain to ensure rapid regrowth. 

Bunch of Cilantro growing in a garden with text above: how to grow cilantro

Why is growing cilantro difficult?

Growing cilantro can be a tricky endeavor for gardening enthusiasts. Cilantro is a fast-growing herb that requires very specific conditions in order to thrive. It does not tolerate hot weather and needs to be planted in cooler temperatures, making it difficult to grow during the summer months. Additionally, if the soil is too moist or dry, growth will suffer, as cilantro cannot tolerate extreme moisture levels either. 

Cilantro also has a short life cycle and will go to seed quickly when it gets too warm, meaning you won’t get much out of your plants if you don’t harvest them regularly. The seeds that do form tend to have low germination rates so it’s important to try and keep your plants alive longer by providing optimal conditions such as partial shade and consistent moisture levels.

How do you trim cilantro so it keeps growing?

To trim cilantro so that it keeps growing, start by cutting the top of the stems off at an angle. This allows more sunlight to reach the leaves and promotes faster growth. Next, pinch off any extra leaves that are drooping or turning yellow. 

If you’re looking for a more advanced method of trimming cilantro, try topping the stems. Topping is when you snip off the top two to four inches of stem and leaves. This encourages the plant to produce several more side shoots and a larger harvest in the future. 

Also don’t forget about post-harvest care. After harvesting your cilantro, make sure to cut back any remaining stems and leaves by one-third or even half their length. This will help ensure that they retain enough energy for another harvest. Make sure to fertilize your cilantro plants every few weeks for the best results. 

How long does it take to grow cilantro?

For most climates, the best time to plant cilantro is either early spring or late summer; this will give you the best chance of harvesting before the temperatures become too hot or cold. Once planted, you should see shoots within 7-10 days and full germination within 14-21 days. From there it takes approximately 4 weeks for your plants to reach maturity and produce seeds.

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