Cilantro, or Coriander, is a popular herb used in Mexican salsas, Indian chutneys, Mediterranean dips and dressings, and many other dishes. Generally eaten raw, it can also be enjoyed cooked in sauces, soups, and curries. It's also easy to dry or freeze for storage.
You can also harvest and dry the seeds. It may seem odd, but the dried seeds have a much different flavor than the leaves and stems of the plant. Keep this in mind when deciding how to use it in recipes.
According to WebMD, anti-oxidant rich Cilantro is used to treat mouth cancer and to remove poisonous metals such as mercury, lead, or aluminum from the body. It has also been used to treat measles and toothaches.
Cilantro’s strong aroma also makes it an effective insect repellent in the garden. Plant it around your other vegetables to ward off pests.
Cilantro is also super easy to grow from seed! It can be grown indoors or outdoors, in a pot or in the ground. The seeds are large so they’re easy to handle when planting (no thinning required). It’s a great choice for novice gardeners or for teaching young children, since the seeds only take 7 -10 days to emerge.
Cilantro grows fast, reaching maturity within about 45 days. But you don’t have to wait for the plant to reach full size. Like many herbs, you can regularly cut off leaves and stems as the plant grows, so you can begin enjoying soon after the plant emerges. Cutting also makes the plant bushier, which just gives you more Cilantro to enjoy!
This article explains how to grow, harvest and enjoy Cilantro using organic methods. As always, our outdoor growing instructions are tailored for our North Texas climate.
When to Plant
Cilantro grows best in mild weather. Seeds will germinate when soil temperatures are between 55 to 68 degrees F. It can tolerate cold down to about 30 degrees F, but it doesn’t care for heat. If temperatures climb above 85 degrees F, the plant will bolt, meaning it will flower, and the foliage will no longer be edible. At this point, it’s time to harvesting the seeds.
For North Texas gardeners, this means the best time to grow cilantro seeds outdoors is either during the fall and winter or in the early spring. In the event of a freeze, protect plants with frost cloth. And in hot weather, simply move your efforts indoors.
Cilantro prefers full sun to light shade, so give it a spot where it can receive about 6 hours of sunlight.
Tip: Cilantro prefers a bit of shade, especially in the afternoon. Plant it near your tomatoes, peppers, or other larger plants and allow the large plants to shade your Cilantro.
Before planting, soak your seeds overnight in Maxicrop Seaweed to stimulate seed germination and root development.
If you are sowing your seeds directly in the garden, plant them about 1/4-inch deep 6 to 8 inches apart. Make successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks as long as temperatures are favorable. Seeds should be kept moist until they are about 2 inches high.
Tip: If you’re growing from transplants, always transfer your plants from wet soil to wet soil. Never place your plant in a dry hole. We recommend using our Marshall Grain Co.'s organic planting recipe to reduce the risk of transplant shock.
Cilantro should be kept moist with regular watering. Mulching will help keep the roots insulated from both heat and cold.
Unlike fruiting plants such as tomatoes, Cilantro is grown for its foliage, which means it needs plenty of nitrogen and minimal amounts of phosphate and potassium. Fertilize about once per month with a nitrogen fertilizer such as Blood Meal (12-0-0) or Maxicrop Liquid Fish (5-1-1).
Pests & Diseases
Cilantro is an easy-to-care-for plant. Its strong scent protects it from most pests and it is relatively disease resistant. If necessary, treat it with an organic product such as 70% Neem Oil.
As soon as the plant is large enough, you can start snipping off small amounts as needed and allow the plant to continue growing. Regular snipping will help the plant to grow bushier and produce more foliage.
Freezing & Drying:
Leaves can be frozen or dried. To freeze them, just drop them into a resealable plastic bag or container. Be sure to use them within 6 months of freezing. Cilantro can be air dried or it can be done in an oven, a microwave, or a dehydrator.
Allow the plant to flower and produce seed heads.
Cut off the seed heads when the plant begins to turn brown.
Clean the plant material to remove dirt and debris. Then place it in a paper bag.
As the plant dries, the seeds will fall off. You can then store the seeds in any type of sealed container.