Cilantro is an easy to grow herb that is perfect for gardeners of all levels. Learn how to grow cilantro in your garden and never buy it again!
With minimal effort, you can have a plentiful supply of this popular herb in your own backyard. You’ll be able to make your own salsa, guacamole, or other cilantro-inspired dishes easily without having to run to the store.
Cilantro- or Coriandrum sativum– is actually the name for the leaves of the coriander plant. So you can get 2 plants in one! Use the leaves in the spring and then as the weather warms and the plant goes to seed, you can collect coriander seed.
All you need to do is prepare the soil, choose the right location, and sow your cilantro seeds, and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh cilantro all season long! Read on for more information about how to grow cilantro in your garden.
How to Grow Cilantro in Your Backyard Garden
Cilantro is a popular herb that brings flavor to many dishes. Growing cilantro at home is super easy, and it requires minimal effort.
Here’s everything you need to know to grow cilantro successfully.
Types of Cilantro
But before you can grow cilantro, you need to choose the correct type for your needs and growing conditions.
For many of us growing in warmer climates, you will want to look for a slow bolting variety. This means it will grow longer before going to seed once the weather warms.
Here are a few varieties to try:
How to Start Cilantro From Seed
Cilantro is easily started from seed, and can be started either indoors for a head start or directly outside in the garden.
Cilantro also self-seeds readily, if you don’t collect the coriander seed, and it will come back in the fall or spring.
For those looking to get a head start on growing cilantro, by starting the seeds indoors, the process is fairly easy.
Start by soaking the cilantro seeds in water overnight. This will soften the hard outer coating and allow them to germinate more quickly.
Plant the seeds about ¼ inch deep in a tray or small pots filled with potting mix, garden soil, or your favorite seed starting medium.
Place the trays in a warm spot with plenty of sunlight, or use grow light. Be sure to water regularly and keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds have germinated.
Cilantro seedlings can be transplanted into your garden or containers outdoors about 2-3 weeks before your last frost date.
When to Plant Cilantro
Cilantro prefers cooler temperatures and will do best when planted in early spring or late summer. In fact, once the temperatures get above 75F it will start to bolt (going to seed)
It’s best to plant your seeds just before or right at your last frost date.
Planting cilantro too late can result in the plants bolting before you’ve had time to harvest your crop.
Succession planting is the best way to ensure a steady supply of cilantro. Plant a few seeds every couple of weeks throughout the growing season. Once the temperature reaches about 70F, stop planting.
You can start up again in the late summer for a fall crop. Or allow your spring cilantro to go to seed and it will self seed and germinate once the conditions are right!
Where to Plant Cilantro
When choosing where to plant cilantro, here are some things to keep in mind.
Cilantro grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It needs at least 6 hours of sun each day. Choosing a location that gets shade during the hottest part of the day can extend the harvest time of cilantro.
Make sure the soil is well-drained and before you plant, add some compost or aged manure to the soil to help it retain moisture and nutrients. If you’re growing cilantro in containers, make sure to use a potting mix that is rich in organic matter.
Cilantro also can make a great companion plant, so placing it near plant such as eggplant, will give it the shade it needs in the hot part of the day and help the other plant with things like deterring pests.
How to Plant & Care for Cilantro
Once you’ve selected a spot and prepared the soil, it’s time to plant your cilantro.
If you’re transplanting cilantro into your garden, dig holes 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm.) apart and place the plants in them. Water thoroughly after transplanting.
Cilantro doesn’t transplant that well, due to having a long taproot, but it can be done if the plants and roots are handled carefully.
If you are planting seeds directly in the garden, plant them about ¼ inch deep and 1-2 inches apart.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and don’t let it dry out for long periods of time. When the seedlings are 4-5 inches tall, you can thin them out so the plants are 10-12 inches apart. Or, you can just have a big cilantro jungle, like I tend to do!
Cilantro is pretty hands off, and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. It does require regular watering and prefers moist, not soggy soil. Water cilantro deeply and thoroughly once a week, or more often if the weather is hot and dry.
Cilantro Pests & Diseases
Cilantro is generally resistant to most pests and diseases- making it super easy and hands off to grow.
And due to its strong scent, many pests are repelled. Once it flowers it also brings in beneficial insects that can help with pests.
However, it can occasionally be affected by things like fungal blights or aphids.
One of the biggest problems can be root rot, due to improper watering and drainage. Learn how to water correctly here: How to Water Your Garden Correctly
Cilantro can be harvested as soon as the leaves appear, but it’s best to wait until the plants are at least about 6 inches tall.
Cut off the outer leaves at the base of the stem and leave the growing tip intact. This will encourage new growth for a continual harvest.
For a continuous supply of cilantro, harvest only a few leaves from each plant at a time. This will encourage new growth and extend your harvesting season.
Continual harvest will help prevent bolting as well. Though once the weather is too warm, nothing will stop that from happening!
Cilantro does not store well and should be used as soon as possible after harvesting.
Here’s a tip to help you cilantro keep longer in the fridge:
- Wash and dry your cilantro thoroughly. A salad spinner is great for this job!
- Wrap it in a paper towel
- Place it in a closed ziploc bag or air tight container
Cilantro doesn’t preserve the best, but if you have too much cilantro, you can freeze it.
Simply chop it up and place it in a freezer bag. I don’t even defrost before using. I just toss it in my guacamole and go!
Want to learn how to grow other herbs? Check out these guides: