Love Cilantro? You Can Grow That!

I’ve yet to meet anyone indifferent to the flavor of the herb cilantro. You either love it or dislike it. If, like me, you fall into the former category I have good news … You Can Grow That! Cilantro is one of the easiest herbs to grow. In fact, growing it can provide you with two herbs for the price of one. Cilantro (the leaves of the plant) and coriander (the seeds) are both products of the Coriandrum sativum plant.

Cilantro is best grown from seed. It has a long tap root and is not particularly fond of being transplanted except when very young. For best results give it well drained soil and full sun. In my zone 6 area of Connecticut, I have sown cilantro seed from early through late spring. I sow again in late summer for a fall crop. The plant is quick to go to flower so to insure an ample supply of fresh leaves it is best to sow new seeds in two week successions.  But cilantro is useful even warm weather induces it to flower and set seed. The flowers can be used in food dishes, though they have a slightly different flavor than cilantro leaves. The mature and dried seeds are coriander, also used in cooking and baking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My favorite method of growing cilantro is a year-round process. Sow seed in planting beds in early spring. Keep a frost protection covering at hand to protect the plants from frosty nighttime temperatures. Use as many young leaves as possible and try to delay flowering by snipping off the top parts of each plant. Eventually, though the flowers win out and leaf production slows. Let the healthiest plants set seed. When the seeds are dry and turn a light brown they drop to the ground. Encourage them to drop in optimal areas, cover them with a bit of soil, and make sure they are watered regularly. Soon young cilantro plants emerge and mature in time for late summer early fall harvest. Use floating row covers or a cold frame to protect any young plants when cold autumn temperatures arrive. When in the protection of a cold frame, cilantro will continue to grow until real cold moves in, then it goes dormant. It usually survives under cover through winter when given occasional supplemental water during bouts of warmer weather. During warmer winters you may be able to harvest fresh cilantro from the cold frame. During colder winters the plants remain dormant until warmer temperatures return. Water regularly when overwintered plants begin showing signs of growth and open the cold frame when temperatures permit. Once freezing temperatures stop, remove the cold frame.

Right now, my planting beds are in a state of alteration so my early cilantro sowing (see the photo) was in pots. But as soon as my planting beds are reestablished, I’m returning to the cilantro growing method mentioned above. I adore the particularly strong flavor of cilantro that overwintered inside a cold frame. I use chopped cilantro in tomato-, cucumber- or fruit-based salsa, in egg and potato salads, as a garnish for grilled or baked fish – it’s especially good with salmon and swordfish – and, of course, in guacamole.

Like so many herbs, once you experience the fresh taste of home-grown cilantro, you’ll hesitate to reach for grocery store versions. Fortunately, cilantro is an easy, You Can Grow That! herb.

You Can Grow That! is a blog meme occurring on the fourth of each month. It was started by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening to remind everyone that gardening is good for people. Gardening enriches our senses, our food, and our health. Gardening fosters friendship and increases ones appreciation of nature. Read more You Can Grow That! posts by visiting Whole Life Gardening.

Garden thoughtfully and remember,

 

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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

14 comments for “Love Cilantro? You Can Grow That!

  1. May 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Joene, lovely post. I too have cilantro starts-La Reina-growing in my greenhouse, with visions of salsa dancing in my head!

    • May 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Benita … your visions of salsa dancing in your head is universal for cilantro lovers.

  2. May 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Another idea for me..I love it and didn’t know anything about it…I guess I should use that as my tagline for this meme..Hello.. new here…LOL…I have conditions that it would like I think…Michelle

    • May 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      It’s REALLY easy to grow, Ramblin Woods. Give it a try.

  3. May 5, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Here in Southern California cilantro is a staple — there are so many Hispanic dishes to cook and, of course, everyone needs cilantro for a good salsa! It’s even decorative in the garden with its delicate leaves.

    • May 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      You are so right, Jane. Cilantro is a lovely addition to the garden, plus it tastes and smells fantastic.

  4. May 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Great post, Joene! I know this is one of those herbs that you either love or hate– nothing in between– and I love it! I posted a link about how to store cilantro that you might find useful. http://www.basilandbutterscotch.blogspot.com/2012/05/keep-cilantro-and-other-herbs-fresh.html

    • May 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks, Lynn. I store cilantro the same way I store washed lettuce … loosely rolled in a paper towel, which absorbs and holds enough moisture from the freshly wasshed leaves to prevent wilting, and in a sealed plastic bag. This method works great for chives, too.

  5. May 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Joene, For some reason, and I’m not entirely sure why, I don’t grow many herbs but you make it sound so easy to grow cilantro. So the big question is…do the deer, rabbits and/or groundhogs like it?

    • May 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Debbie, I cannot quite answer that. I don’t have a rabbit or groundhog problem as of right now. I have lost some to voles, but not an entire planting. I’ve not given deer the opportunity to browse it. I always grow it in a fenced in area. It has a strong scent and flavor so my guess is most deer would avoid it, as they do lavender. I cannot imagine not growing herbs. They make cooking, and ultimately eating, so much more enjoyable.

  6. Jeannie
    May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I have not been very successful with growing cilantro the past two years. They could not take the high temperatures here. I had success with starting from seed and transplanting but as soon as it was hot the plants immediately died.
    But I am not giving up!

    • May 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      Jeannie, the plants do not like heat. You don’t say where you are gardening but if you can start seeds in time for cilantro to mature in cool temperatures you may have success. Good luck.

  7. Andrew Rajah
    September 7, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I sowed some coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek and mustard seeds together about six weeks ago. Only the fennel (there may be some cumin which I can’t differentiate), fenugreek and mustard plants sprouted. Two weeks later I separated the mustard plants. They grew up quite fast and I harvested the whole plants except one that I left for seeds. They tasted delicious when cooked with garlic, pepper, salt and soy sauce.

    Two days ago I separated the other plants by spacing them around in my garden.

    I wondered about my coriander. Then I saw some posts that said that fennel prevents coriander from germinating. There was also a warning not to plant coriander near tomato, broad bean and a few other plants. So, yesterday, I sowed some coriander seeds in a five feet by two feet raised plot bounded by my 17 carrot seedlings and seven radish plants. Hoping for the best.

    BTW, here in Malaysia we have warm equatorial weather the whole year.

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