Cilantro or Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
About this Herb
In our region, cilantro is the herb known for its aromatic leaves and is used to flavor Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. In other parts of the world, this same plant is called Chinese parsley or coriander—the name we give the dried seeds that are also used in cooking. No matter what it’s called, this annual herb is easy to grow.
How to Grow Cilantro
In our region, cilantro is a fast-growing annual. It’s an attractive plant, but it’s known for going to seed quickly. Be prepared to sow seeds every few weeks to ensure a continuous harvest of fresh cilantro.
Locate a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, flower garden or the patio. A spot that gets afternoon shade will help reduce the plant from going to seed too quickly. Cilantro grows in fertile, well-drained soil. Amend the soil with compost or use a high-quality potting soil if growing in containers.
Plants will grow from 1-2 feet tall and can spread to about 10 inches, so plan on giving them plenty of room.
Soak cilantro seeds in water overnight and then plant in the garden while weather is cool in spring. Because cilantro grows so quickly, keep a steady supply by planting seeds in succession every few weeks.
Plant seeds ¼ inch deep and about 1-2 inches apart. If planting in rows, space plants about 8 inches apart. Keep soil moist and seeds will sprout starting in about 2 weeks. Thin seedlings to grow healthy plants.
Cilantro can also be grown from transplants, although plants may not grow as tall and may go to seed faster.
Keep soil moist, especially as weather warms. Plan to use cilantro quickly while leaves are fresh and bright green,
Use cilantro leaves like you would fresh parsley, clip a stem or pinch leaves off as you need them. If plants flower and produce seeds, collect theses seeds, dry them and use the coriander seedsin cooking, too.
How to use Cilantro in the Kitchen
Use fresh cilantro leaves to flavor Mexican salsas, guacamole, tortilla wraps or top enchiladas and burritos. Fresh leaves are also good in Asian cooking such as noodle bowls or soups.
The dried coriander seeds are a main ingredient in Indian dishes, like curries.
Companion Plants for Cilantro
Plant cilantro with these companions:
- Most garden vegetables
- Other culinary herbs like parsley, basil and chives
Materials for Cilantro Success
- Soaker hose or other watering method
- High-quality compost or high-quality potting soil
- Cilantro seeds or transplants