Growing your own herbs is such a fun process. It does take a little bit (more like a lot) of patience, but it’s so rewarding and produces such a great harvest in more ways than one.
Cilantro is the star flavor in many Mexican, Indian, and Asian dishes. Half the population loves its zingy citrus flavor, and the other half thinks it tastes like soap. Those who think cilantro tastes like soap have a good reason. When scientists decided to settle the debate once and for all, they discovered many are genetically sensitive to cilantro’s natural aldehydes and can’t stand eating cilantro or anything it touches.
Needless to say, this article is for those who enjoy cilantro’s crisp, citrusy goodness and want to learn how to grow it themselves.
Below, I’ve put together some of the best practices to grow your own cilantro plants indoors and outdoors. And I would love it if you also share your best tips and tricks for growing and using cilantro in the comments below. What do you think? Does it taste like soap or citrus? Also, feel free to drop your questions in the comments or email me at [email protected].
Tips For Growing Cilantro Indoors
Cilantro can be an aromatic microgreen because it’s perfect for growing indoors all year long. In fact, if cilantro gets too hot, it will bolt up and produce coriander seeds instead of the luscious green leaves.
It is ideal to plant seeds in a biodegradable starter pot or container, a small pot where they can germinate and begin to take root. It’s crucial to know that cilantro is sensitive to heat. They will bolt and produce coriander seeds and tiny leaves if they get too hot. It may be best to keep them indoors or grow them in the cooler months like spring or fall, depending on your climate. Cilantro can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees F and up to 85 degrees F without bolting.
You will want to use good moist and porous potting soil for pots. It’s a good idea to fill your pots and let them sit in the shade to dry a little bit before planting your seeds so that you can avoid any fungus that frequently comes from using moist soils. You can also add a bit of compost to ordinary garden soil. If you don’t know which one to use, it would be best to consult your local nursery or growing expert to help you decide which is best for your needs.
Add your soil to your starter pots. Moisten the soil slightly with a spray bottle and give your seeds about one-quarter to one-half-inch headspace. Cilantro seeds are large, so you can carefully place them about six inches apart. You can press the seeds down gently but don’t bury them. Instead, sprinkle just a bit of your soil over the top and leave them loose.
Find a windowsill in your apartment or house that lets in a lot of sunlight. My apartment doesn’t get much sunlight, so I got a couple of LED Grow Lights to help out. You will want to give an initial thorough but gentle watering to get the seeds to germinate. Be sure also to do this throughout the germination process. Once the seeds have started to sprout, you will regularly check the soil moisture, only lightly watering or using a spray bottle to keep the soil wet when it seems to begin drying out.
When cilantro is about three to four inches tall, you will want to transplant your plants into either your indoor garden pot or outdoor area.
Cilantro has a long taproot that doesn’t do well with transplanting, so you want to transplant them before they get too long, keep them in one pot or sew them directly into the soil. I recommend keeping your cilantro in a pot or sewing it straight into your garden, but the starter pots can also help with this issue.
A quality four-to-six-inch pot with a broad base is best for cilantro plants, preferably terra cotta or clay. And you will want to spread out the plants a little, giving them room to breathe and grow.
To do this, fill the pot with your good quality soil and dig out a hole where you will be transplanting the cilantro with its roots and soil in-tacked. Before transplanting, lay down some herb fertilizer in your chosen spot. I use Jobe’s Organic Herb Granular Plant Food.
I simply place the whole starter pot in the hole of the larger pot. The containers are biodegradable, and I love them. If you use a regular small pot, you will want to gently remove soil, root, and plant from the starter pot and place them in the holes.
From here on, you will want to give your cilantro plant good watering once a week. It’s a delicate balance… never let the soil fully dry out, but you want to water again only when the top layer is dry. In between weekly waterings, you can give your cilantro plants a few squirts of filtered water with a spray bottle if you want—most plants like a bit of humidity.
Here are a few extra tips:
- Don’t plant your plants next to a heater or air conditioner
- Fertilize them twice a year.
- Try not to water your seedlings directly on top of the leaves but rather at the base, especially when they are young and fragile.
Tips For Growing Outdoors
If you are planting your cilantro in your garden, plant it in a well-drained area that receives a little over partial sunlight or about five to six hours. Cilantro is a self-seeding annual, and it will grow for up to one year. It is best to plant two weeks after the last frost or in Spring for outdoor use to get a maximum yield before winter. If you plan on growing it outside you can let it, go to seed at the end of the year and collect the seeds for the next year, or let them stay in the soil for early self-germination.
You can begin harvesting Cilantro leaves once the plants reach six inches tall and continue doing so until the plant dies. To harvest cilantro, cut the outer leaves once they get four to six inches long. Or, cut the whole plant about one to two inches above the soil level to use both small and large leaves.
Preparing & Storing
Cilantro leaves are best when fresh, but you can freeze them in ice cubes or dry them; however, they will lose their potency. You can keep cilantro cuttings in the refrigerator for up to a week. Please do not wash them all at once. Instead, place your cuttings stem in water and loosely cover them. Change the water every couple of days and wash them as you use them.
- Plant taller plants around your cilantro when planting outside to extend your growing season
- Succession plant cilantro every week or two to keep a steady supply of it around.
Cilantro Shopping List