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planting cilantro seeds in a pot

How to Grow Coriander

Variety is important!

Coriander (Cilantro) can be either grown for its leaves or for its seeds. Varieties have been bred to be better at producing one or the other so the variety you choose is important. A seed variety will produce seed quicker than a leaf variety but once a plant ‘runs to seed’ it will stop leaf production. If you want coriander leaves for your cooking this means you will have a shorter picking time. All varieties will eventually produce seed but the leaf varieties will hold off for longer.

In our opinion coriander ‘Calypso’ or ‘Leisure’ are the best for leaf production as it has an excellent ‘cut and come again’ habit while ‘Santo’ will produce larger flower heads and run to seed more quickly. You do not need to choose these varieties but make sure to check if the seeds you are using are ‘seed’ or ‘leaf’ varieties.

How to Grow Coriander

Coriander enjoys a sunny position but appreciates a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Plants will run to seed more quickly if stressed by hot weather so this is important for leaf varieties.

Sowing Coriander

Coriander is sown from late March until early September. To achieve a constant supply of leaves through the Summer sow small amounts every 3 weeks. The best months for leaf production are late spring and Autumn. Coriander is will grow best sown directly rather than grown in seed trays and transplanting. This is because transplanting disturbance will also cause then to run to seed.

Sow directly into well drained, fertile soil. If your soil needs to be improved add good garden compost or well rotted manure. Rake into the surface of the soil to remove any large lumps or stones leaving a fine and even tilth. Seeds are best sown in groups of 5 spaced 20cm between rows and 20cm between plants.

You can also grow coriander successfully in pots or trays filled with a good multipurpose compost. Coriander plants have deep tap roots so pots need to be at least 25cm deep. Scatter seeds on the surface of the compost and cover, watering well. In a pot of 25cm diameter you can sow approx 5 seeds per pot.

Caring for Coriander

Germination of coriander takes up to 3 weeks. Thin young plants to 20cm apart to allow them to grow to their full size. Water them in dry periods and ensure the soil never dries out. If flowers develop remove them immediately – this ensures the plants focus their energy on growing new leaves. Re-sow coriander every three weeks to ensure you have a continual supply during the summer. It is not normally necessary to feed coriander if the soil is well nourished. However is the plants appear to be suffering give them a liquid organic feed to perk them up.

Harvesting Coriander

Harvest the leaves when the plant is big and robust enough to cope. Pluck or cut each leaf off the stem or snip whole stems if necessary. Both the leaves and the stalks can be used.

If you are growing coriander for its seeds, wait until the flowers have died off before harvesting. Cut the stems and place the heads of the coriander in a paper bag, with the stems slicking out. Tie the stems and the bag together in a bunch and hang upside down in a cool, dry place. Wait for three weeks and then shake the bag. The dry seeds will fall out from the flowers and be ready in the bottom of the bag. Keep them in a dry place and re-sow the following spring.

Coriander is a versatile herb popular in Asian cooking including curries, Chinese and Thai dishes. Both the seeds and the leaves of the plant can be used, and offer two distinct flavours. The seeds have a slight lemony flavour; they are often ground and used as a spice. The leaves (also known as cilantro) have a slightly bitter taste and can be chopped up and added to dishes and breads or used as a garnish. Coriander is a tasty herb to grow, both for its leaves and seeds. If you re-sow seeds every three weeks you can have lush coriander leaves throughout the summer to add to salads and Asian dishes.

How to grow your own coriander herbs a comprehensive guide. Used alot in asian cuisine, Coriander is a very useful herb to have in the herb garden

Grow Cilantro the Better Way—We Call It Mesclun-Style

The essential summer herb is fast-growing and versatile, but wilts in hot weather. With this growing guide, though, you’ll have it any time you want!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have fresh cilantro growing right outside your kitchen door? Whenever you wanted to fix Mexican salsa or guacamole, or a Middle Eastern yogurt sauce for your lamb kabobs, there the lacy, sweetly pungent leaves would be, ready to harvest.

But if you’ve ever tried to grow it, you’ve probably noticed that cilantro yields a fast crop; plants are barely up before they try to flower and set seeds. So those tasty leaves aren’t around long, especially in warm weather.

To keep leaves coming, you can sow seeds every two weeks for a continuous cilantro crop. Or, even better, try the method we perfected in Sunset’s test garden last year: Grow cilantro as you would mesclun.

Sow seeds thickly in a wide, shallow container; then, as soon as plants are 3 to 4 inches tall and sporting a couple of cuttable leaves, use scissors to cut off some foliage for cooking as shown.

Shear from a different section of the container every time, rotating the pot as you go and never letting plants in any area mature. By the time you get back to the first section harvested, new leaves will have appeared.

Cilantro Growing Tips

1. Select a bowl-shaped container at least 18 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches deep.

2. Fill the pot with a fast-draining potting soil; mix in an organic granular fertilizer.

3. Before seeding, moisten the soil using a fine spray from the hose. Because the seeds are fairly small, mix them in a bowl with sand (3 parts sand to 1 part seed) so they’ll disperse more evenly. Sow the seeds, then cover lightly with soil.

4. Gently mist the soil so as not to displace the seeds.

5. Place containers in full sun or, if you live in a hot climate, light shade. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days.

6. Harvest at least weekly to keep leaves coming. Using this method, it’s possible to harvest four crops of cilantro from a single pot.

Cilantro is an essential summer herb, fast-growing and versatile, but it wilts in hot weather, so supplies can be inconsistent. With this growing guide, though, you'll have fresh cilantro any time you want it!