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How to Grow Cilantro With Those Awesome Coriander Seeds

  • Bob Styer
  • Herbs
Fresh Green Cilantro Leaves Covered With Dew.

Welcome to our guide on how to grow cilantro, the herb with two faces.  Why does it have two faces?  Because when we grow it, we get the fresh cilantro herb, and the seeds we grow cilantro from are the spice coriander.

People in the US, Canada, and Mexico prefer the name cilantro, which is the Spanish word for coriander.  The rest of the world calls it coriander leaves or even Chinese parsley.

What is Cilantro?

This popular annual herb is in the same apiaceae family as carrots, parsley, celery, and dill.  Every part of the plant is edible, and the flavorful root is an excellent prize for cooking.

Although it looks like parsley, it has a different flavor of spicy lemon-lime with a hint of parsley.

Surprisingly, some people don’t like the taste of raw cilantro. I’m one of them.  Where most people love the taste of cilantro, people like me think it tastes soapy or like a chemical.  We’re victims of our genetics, I guess…

Since it grows in Hardiness Zones 2 – 10, it’s a common ingredient in dishes worldwide.  If you let cilantro flower and go to seed, ensure you collect the seeds because that’s how you get coriander.

Even though I wouldn’t say I like raw cilantro, I love the taste of coriander (go figure).  If you don’t want to collect the seeds, they’ll fall to the ground and germinate in your herb garden next spring.

Would you like to learn about other herbs? Check out our post “The Complete Guides to Growing Culinary Herbs” for links to those articles.

White cilantro flowers that are also edible
Edible cilantro flowers that will soon produce coriander seeds

Types of Cilantro

Leaf cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

This type is easy to confuse with parsley, but tasting them will clear the confusion.  Leaf cilantro quickly bolts with white flowers when the weather is dry and hot.

Cilantro has a shorter life cycle in hot weather. Fortunately, it reseeds itself easily.  Some of the popular varieties of leaf cilantro include:

  • Calypso cilantro.  Known for its high yields, this bushy variety is slow to bolt and ready to harvest in 50 – 55 days.  The seeds are ready to harvest in 85 – 105 days.
  • Caribe cilantro.  Another variety that’s slow to bolt, the leaves are ready for harvest in 50 – 55 days and the seeds in 100 days.
  • Delfino cilantro.  This high-producing variety has thin, feathery foliage ready for harvest in 35 days.  The seeds are ready in 80 – 85 days.  Because of its small leaves, this variety doesn’t need much chopping.
  • Large leaf cilantro .  With large, plentiful leaves, this variety is three times more productive than others.  The leaves are ready for harvest in 40 – 50 days, and seeds start forming in 100 days.
  • Leisure cilantro.  This pungent variety provides high yields, tolerates heat, and is slow bolting.  The leaves are ready for harvest in 28 – 40 days.
  • Moroccan cilantro.  The leaves and seeds of this variety have a mild, warm flavor compared to others.  The leaves are ready in 45 days, and the seeds in 90 days.
  • Santo cilantro.  This variety grows fast and is slow to bolt.  This is the favorite variety of many gardeners and is ready in 50 – 55 days.  The seeds are ready in 90 – 105 days.
  • Long standing cilantro. A hardy variety that grows almost anywhere, it also has excellent bolt resistance. The plant matures in 60 – 90 days.

Vietnamese Cilantro

Also known as Vietnamese coriander, this flavorful type is best for hot climates since it’s slow to bolt.  The leaves don’t look like parsley; they’re narrower, darker, and have smooth edges.

This plant isn’t true cilantro but relates to rhubarb and sorrel.  It has a sharp, peppery flavor compared to others.

Culantro

No, that’s not a misspelling.  This type isn’t true cilantro but more like a botanical cousin.  The leaves have a bolder flavor than leaf cilantro and look like dandelion leaves.  It also prefers more shade and moisture than leaf cilantro.

Preparing the Soil

Cilantro prefers full sun and well-draining soil, with a pH of 6.2 – 6.8.  The plants need partial shade on sweltering summer days to prevent them from bolting.  Mix organic compost or fertilizer with the soil before planting.

We have more useful information about soil and compost. Check out our articles “Testing Garden Soil and How to Make Improvements” and “How to Make Compost at Home.”

Growing Cilantro from Seeds

Sow the seeds 1 – 2 inches apart and ¼ inch deep a few weeks before the last spring frost.  When the seedlings appear, thin them 6 8 inches apart.  Rows should be at least a foot apart.

Plant cilantro from before the last spring frost to a few weeks before the first fall frost.  Replant it every two weeks to ensure a continuous harvest.  The leaves will be ready to harvest about 30 days after planting.

Cilantro is another cool-weather herb that likes about 6 hours of direct sunlight.  It’ll immediately bolt if subjected to too much hot weather.  A good idea is to select a growing area that will get afternoon shade if you have sweltering summers.

A Selection of Seeds to Help You Get Started

The Old Farmer's Almanac Heirloom Organic Cilantro Seeds (Slow Bolt) - Approx 180 Seeds - Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Open Pollinated, Heirloom, USA Origin
The Old Farmer's Almanac Heirloom Organic Cilantro Seeds (Slow Bolt) - Approx 180 Seeds - Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Open Pollinated, Heirloom, USA Origin
$5.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
HOME GROWN 500+ Cilantro Seeds for Planting Indoors or Outdoors - Heirloom, Non-GMO Coriander Seeds, Grow Your Own Cilantro Plant - Culinary Herb Seeds for Your Herb Garden
HOME GROWN 500+ Cilantro Seeds for Planting Indoors or Outdoors - Heirloom, Non-GMO Coriander Seeds, Grow Your Own Cilantro Plant - Culinary Herb Seeds for Your Herb Garden
$9.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Sereniseed Certified Organic Herb Seeds (10-Pack) – Non GMO, Heirloom – Seed Starting Video - Basil, Cilantro, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Lavender, Chives, Sage, Dill Seeds for Indoor & Outdoor Planting
Sereniseed Certified Organic Herb Seeds (10-Pack) – Non GMO, Heirloom – Seed Starting Video - Basil, Cilantro, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Lavender, Chives, Sage, Dill Seeds for Indoor & Outdoor Planting
$9.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Cilantro Seeds - Leisure - 2 g Packet ~135 Seeds - Non-GMO, Heirloom - Microgreens & Herb Gardening
Cilantro Seeds - Leisure - 2 g Packet ~135 Seeds - Non-GMO, Heirloom - Microgreens & Herb Gardening
$2.49
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18
Seed Needs, Culantro Seeds - 300 Heirloom Seeds for Planting Eryngium foetidum - Non-GMO & Untreated Tropical Herb to Plant Indoors or Outdoors (2 Packs)
Seed Needs, Culantro Seeds - 300 Heirloom Seeds for Planting Eryngium foetidum - Non-GMO & Untreated Tropical Herb to Plant Indoors or Outdoors (2 Packs)
$7.99
Buy on Amazon
2024-07-18

Growing Cilantro from Cuttings

Any stems selected for cuttings should have healthy leaf growth and be at least five inches long.  Put about two inches of water in a clear glass or mason jar, then add a few cut stems.

The clear container makes it easy to notice when the water turns cloudy.  Change the water as soon as it becomes cloudy.

The roots form in one or two weeks.  The cuttings are ready to transplant when the roots are at least one inch long.  The rooted cuttings can go straight to the garden or pots.

Caring for Cilantro During the Growing Season

Keep the soil moist but not soggy; the cilantro will be happy.  Too much water will cause root rot, which is a common problem with any overwatered plant.  Give the plants organic plant food every few weeks to encourage leaf production.

Growing Cilantro in Pots

Cilantro is an ideal potted plant. In pots,it’s easy to move to the shade when the sun gets too hot.  When growing indoors, a bowl can be suitable for cilantro. The bowl should be at least 16 inches in diameter and 8 to 10 inches deep.

That way, you can rotate the bowl as you’re harvesting cilantro.  This gives the harvested plants a chance to regrow leaves for another harvest.  Whatever container you use, ensure it’s 8 – 10 inches deep to allow room for the roots and it has drainage holes.

Fill the containers with potting mix.  To use potting soil, mix three parts with one part each of compost and perlite.

Potting soil by itself will get too dense and stop draining well.  Mixing compost and perlite improves the fertility and drainage of potting soil.

Sow the seeds or rooted cuttings six inches apart.  Since the seeds are so tiny, spread them the best you can and thin them out after the seedlings appear.  Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep and the rooted cuttings deep enough to cover the roots.

Check our article “Growing Vegetables in Containers” for more information.

How to Harvest Cilantro

You can harvest cilantro leaves when the plants are 6 to 12 inches long.  Cutting more than a third of the leaves from any plant can weaken it.

The leaves will regrow on any cut areas. That allows you to get a continuous harvest.  Once the plant bolts (flowers), the leaves become bitter and aren’t good to eat.  At this point, you can use the mild-tasting flowers.

You can delay bolting by keeping the plants cool and out of the midday sun, but flowering is inevitable.


Green coriander seed heads before drying
Fresh green coriander seed heads on the way to maturity

Harvesting Coriander Seeds

When cilantro flowers it isn’t a bad thing because those flowers produce coriander seeds.  This desirable spice is another benefit of growing cilantro.

While the plant is flowering, you’ll see green swellings form under the blossoms.  These swellings are the fruit of cilantro, but gardeners call them seed heads.  The scientific name for the fruit is “schizocarp.”  Each fruit contains two seeds.

The seed heads will dry and turn brown.  To harvest the seeds, clip the brown seed heads with part of the stalk and place them upside down in a paper bag.

After a few days, the round brown husks will split in two and drop the seeds in the bag.  If the seed heads stay on the plant too long, the stems will weaken and fall over, causing the seed heads to spill out.  Any seeds that fall to the ground will sprout next spring.

Let the seeds dry for a few more days and store them in air-tight containers.  Use the seeds as a spice, either whole or ground.  Or use them next spring to start a new crop.

Storing Fresh Cilantro

Fresh cilantro is always the best way to enjoy it.  Here are some tips on keeping it as close to fresh as possible:

Storing Cilantro in the Fridge

After washing the cilantro, pat it dry or use a salad spinner.  The dryer the cilantro, the longer it will stay in the fridge.  Here are the ways to store it:

  • Put the sprigs in a glass with about two inches of water.  Cover the cilantro and glass with an open gallon-size Ziploc bag and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Wrap smaller bunches in paper towels and put the wrapped bunches in a gallon-size Ziploc bag.  Store the bags in the crisper drawer.

Depending on its original condition, it will store in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

How to Freeze Cilantro

We’ve successfully frozen bunches of parsley and cilantro sprigs in small Ziploc bags.  Frozen cilantro is usable for up to six months but doesn’t work well as a garnish after freezing.  Here are some other ways to freeze cilantro:

  • Chop the sprigs into small pieces and place them in the cells of ice cube trays.  Top off the cells with water and send them to the freezer.  Once they’re frozen, put the cubes in freezer bags.  Put the cubes into food while it’s cooking.
  • Make sure the fresh sprigs are dry, and chop them.  Place the pieces in small Ziploc freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, and seal the bags.  If water is on the leaves when frozen, they’ll be harder to separate when needed.

You can chop the sprigs by hand or save time and energy by using a food processor.

How to Dry Cilantro for Long-Term Storage

Cilantro loses some flavor when dried, but this is how to get the longest storage time.  For the best flavor, use cilantro fresh or frozen.

Most dried herbs will store in air-tight containers for up to three years.  Dried herbs don’t spoil if kept dry and stored in air-tight containers out of sunlight.  The problem is that they keep losing flavor.

Dried cilantro leaves will store whole or ground.  A spice grinder or mortar and pestle are handy tools for grinding dried herbs.

Before drying, wash the cilantro and pat it dry or use a salad spinner to remove any water.  Any water left on the cilantro can cause problems during the drying process.

Air Drying Cilantro

  • Tie the sprigs together and hang them upside-down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area.  Also, keep them away from sunlight.
  • Please be aware that areas with high humidity can cause the drying cilantro to rot.  This can also occur if hanging the cilantro when it’s still wet.
  • Cover the hanging sprigs with brown paper bags to catch any leaves that might fall.  Poke a few holes in the sides of the bags to improve airflow.
  • Open the bag after a week and see if the cilantro is dry and crumbly.  If it isn’t dry, close the bag and let it dry for a few more days.
  • After drying, strip the leaves from the stems.  Another option is to store the whole dried sprigs in larger air-tight containers.

How to Dry Cilantro in the Microwave

  • Make sure the cilantro is dry of water.  Any water on it will cause it to cook in the microwave instead of dry.
  • Place the leaves in a single layer between paper towels on a microwave-safe plate or tray.
  • Dry the cilantro in batches if you have a lot of it.  Stacking the cilantro in more than one layer can cause it to cook rather than dry.
  • Microwave the leaves for two minutes and check them for dryness.  If they aren’t crumbly, microwave them for 30-second intervals until they are.

Drying Cilantro in a Dehydrator

  • Place the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
  • Dry the leaves at 110O F for one hour.
  • If the leaves aren’t dry and crumbly after one hour, run the dehydrator for 30 minutes or until the leaves are dry.

How to Dry Cilantro in the Oven

  • Strip the leaves from the stems. Then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  • Set the oven to its lowest temperature.  This can vary depending on the oven.
  • Put the leaves in the oven and check them while drying to ensure they don’t scorch.  It helps to keep the oven door slightly open.
  • The leaves should be dry and crunchy in about ½ hour.

Cilantro Companion Plants

This herb is an excellent companion plant for many garden crops.  Cilantro flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects that attack garden pests.  Here are some specific examples:

  • Anise, dill, basil, parsley, and chervil have similar growing conditions.  And like cilantro, they also repel pests and attract beneficial insects.  Cilantro helps the growth of anise.
  • Rosemary, tarragon, and thyme have different growing conditions than cilantro.
  • Cilantro flowers attract hoverflies, ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.  These beneficial insects attack aphids, cabbage moths, spider mites, and potato beetles.
  • The scent of cilantro often repels spider mites.
  • Cilantro is an excellent companion plant for cole crops and leafy vegetables.
  • Legumes like beans, peas, and peanuts provide nitrogen for cilantro.
  • Tomatoes grow tall enough to shade cilantro during the hot summer.
  • Sweet alyssum, chervil, and coreopsis attract ladybugs and lacewings that will eat aphids.

Get more information about companion plants with our Companion Planting Chart.

Cilantro Pests

The smell of cilantro repels many pests, but it does have a few insects that give it occasional problems:

Aphids

Aphids have many varieties, and they’re a pest on most plants.  One hazardous variety for cilantro is the willow-carrot aphid.

This one is more dangerous because it causes carrot motley dwarf disease.  See the section “Cilantro Diseases” for a description of this problem.

For easy removal of aphids, hit them with a blast of water.  To kill aphids, spray them with neem oil or organic insecticidal soap.  Ladybugs, lacewings, and several other beneficial insects also prey on aphids.

Root Knot Nematodes

These tiny worms live in the soil and can form galls on plant roots up to one inch in diameter.  Infested plants look unhealthy, turn yellow, and wither.  These nematodes like to live in sandy soil.

To protect against nematodes, mix the soil with neem cake before planting.  Our article “How to Save Your Plants With Neem Oil and Neem Caketeaches about this unique substance.

Beet Armyworms

This caterpillar is the larval form of the beet armyworm moth.  It prefers warmer climates, but other armyworms like cooler climates.  Armyworms are destructive pests for many crops worldwide.

All armyworms eat leaves, fruit, flowers, and buds of plants.  They can be hard to find because they like to feed at night.  But they often leave skeletonized leaves as their calling card.  To fight armyworms:

  • Neem oil and organic insecticidal soap are effective pesticides against armyworms.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis is another organic way to destroy armyworms.  Like a natural insecticide, these bacteria kill armyworms without affecting other living organisms.
  • Armyworms are food for spiders, assassin bugs, damselflies, parasitic wasps, and lacewings.

Do you want to know more about organic pest control methods? See our article “Top 5 Natural Pest Control Methods You Can Use Now.”

Products That Help Control Insect Pests

Monterey B.t. - Biological Insecticide for Organic Gardening - 1 Pint Concentrate - Apply Using a Sprayer Following Mix Instructions
Monterey B.t. - Biological Insecticide for Organic Gardening - 1 Pint Concentrate - Apply Using a Sprayer Following Mix Instructions
$24.18
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Safer Home SH51703 OMRI Listed Diatomaceous Earth - Ant, Roach, Bedbug, Flea, Silverfish, Earwig, & Crawling Insect Killer
Safer Home SH51703 OMRI Listed Diatomaceous Earth - Ant, Roach, Bedbug, Flea, Silverfish, Earwig, & Crawling Insect Killer
$11.99
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Garden Safe 32 oz. Insecticidal Soap Ready-to-Use, 1 Count (Pack of 1)
Garden Safe 32 oz. Insecticidal Soap Ready-to-Use, 1 Count (Pack of 1)
$9.97
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Cutworms

The larvae of cutworm moths, these beasts can cut plant stems off at ground level.  They can also climb the plants and eat leaves and fruits.  Like armyworms, they eat at night and hide in the daytime.  Also, like armyworms, they attack many crops worldwide.

To protect against these caterpillars:

  • Remove any dead vegetation on the soil surface.  Cutworms like to hide there during the day.
  • Place plastic collars on the plant stems.  The collars should extend about three inches above the ground and about two inches below.  Be careful that they don’t interfere with the roots.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants.  This will cut the worms as they’re crawling around.
  • Spray neem oil on the plants to kill the worms.
  • Cutworms are food for spiders, assassin bugs, damselflies, parasitic wasps, and lacewings.

Cilantro Diseases

To help prevent the spread of plant diseases, disinfect hand tools.  Mix one tablespoon of bleach with ½ cup of alcohol and ¼ cup of water.  Rub this mixture on the hand tools before and after harvest.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

This is the most common disease of cilantro worldwide, and it causes brown or black spots on any part of the plant.  The disease starts in infected seeds.

Then it spreads by pollinators or splashing water.  Many times, the infected seeds fail to germinate.  Any plants that have black or brown spots are inedible.

This blight is difficult to cure, but prevention is possible:

  • Soak the seeds in hot water for 5 minutes to kill the bacteria.
  • Don’t water the plants from above. Always water at the roots.
  • Start the seeds in a sterile potting mix.

Soft Rot

This is another worldwide bacterial disease.  But it affects the soft parts of the plant.  As it spreads, it ends up killing the entire plant.  The bacteria that cause this disease prefer temperatures of 70o – 80o F and high humidity.

Symptoms include:

  • Watery spots form at the base of the leaf stems.  This part of the plant is the petiole, where the leaf stem joins with the stalk.
  • The petioles develop a terrible smell and start rotting.
  • The leaves and other soft tissues turn brown and mushy.

Controlling soft rot is difficult, and there aren’t any treatments.  To prevent this disease:

  • Use care when handling the plants to prevent damage.
  • Remove and destroy any diseased plants when you find them.  Please don’t add them to the compost pile.
  • Keep the plants well-spaced so there’s plenty of airflow.
  • The soil should drain easily and not be soggy.

Damping Off

This fungal disease usually affects the seeds and sprouts of indoor plants.  The conditions that encourage damping off include:

  • Overwatering on overcast days.  The lack of sun doesn’t allow the soil to dry out enough.
  • Crowded growing conditions.  This causes restricted airflow.
  • High humidity.
  • Contaminated water or tools.

Damping off causes the roots to rot, and the plants die after the leaves turn yellow.  The seedlings can also develop wet red spots on their stems.  The fungus can also rot the seeds, so they’ll never germinate.  Treatment includes:

  • Mix the soil with neem cake to prevent soil-borne fungi.
  • Soil should be well-drained.  To correct soil that doesn’t drain well, see our article “Testing Garden Soil and How to Make Improvements.”
  • Don’t overcrowd the plants.
  • Water the plants at the roots and avoid overwatering.

Powdery Mildew

This is the most common fungal disease of cilantro.  The appearance is evident because it looks like talcum powder on the leaves.  The fungus spreads from too much moisture or watering the plants from above.

The mildew causes discolored leaves, distorted flowers, and leaves dropping from plants.  Treatment and prevention methods include:

  • Spray the leaves with neem oil.  Organic neem oil is one of the most effective defenses against plant fungi.  For more information, see our article “How to Save Your Plants With Neem Oil and Neem Cake.”
  • Water the plants at the roots, not from above.
  • Grow the cilantro in a more sunny area since mildew doesn’t like the sun.
  • If the infestation is heavy, destroy the plants.  Cilantro grows quickly, so it’s easy to replant.  Mix the soil with neem cake to kill any soil-borne fungi.

Carrot Motley Dwarf Disease

Two viruses cause this disease: the carrot mottle virus and the carrot redleaf virus.  Carrots host both these viruses, and willow-carrot aphids spread them.

This disease causes stunted seedlings, and the leaves will turn red, orange, or yellow.  Here are the steps to control this disease:

  • Don’t plant cilantro near overwintered carrots.
  • Destroy the aphids by spraying them with neem oil or organic insecticidal soap.

Final Thoughts

Cilantro and coriander seeds are excellent additions to our food, and they’re so easy to grow and harvest.  Before I retired, I worked with a wonderful group of people that would have “Mexican Wednesday” every week for lunch.

We’d go to the same Mexican restaurant every week and often had as many as 20 people in our group.  The owner and waitress were always so glad to see us for some reason.  We’d always have about six small bowls of fresh cilantro on the tables, and there was never any left over.

Even though I couldn’t appreciate the taste, those meals would never have been the same without all that cilantro.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This product presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

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