Cilantro/Coriander: Growing Guide from Seed to Harvest

cilantro-growing-guide
Did you know that cilantro and coriander are names for the same plant? Cilantro is actually the name of the plant while coriander is the name of the seed the is produced when the plant bolts.

What’s In It for Me?

In this guide you will discover:

Planting
Care and Maintenance
Insects and Diseases
Harvesting and Storage

 

Planting

When to plant: Cilantro/coriander is a short-lived, fast producing plant, the bolting of which is accelerated by heat.  Sowing seeds in late June or early July will germinate, produce leaves, and bolt within a 4-6 week period.  The trick to getting the most out of the growing season is to plant early when the weather is cool, and to plant successively.  Planting in spring when the temperatures are still relatively cool, will add up to a month growth time during which you can enjoy the cilantro leaves prior to the plant bolting and producing coriander seeds.  Cilantro/coriander seeds will germinate once the soil has reach 55-68°F.

How to Plant:  Cilantro/coriander prefers well-drained, loamy soil.  Prior to planting, till at least 6 inches of topsoil incorporating plenty of organic matter.  Designate rows 18-24” apart.  Sow 10-15 seeds per foot row in this nice, loose soil. Cover with ½” of soil.  When the plants are a few inches tall, thin to 8” apart.

Succession planting: Cilantro is a fast yielding, short-lived plant, which means you can enjoy it for a very brief period, or you can plant seeds every few weeks throughout the growing season to enjoy it all season long. An additional benefit to succession planting is that you will be able to enjoy both cilantro leaves and coriander seeds simultaneously.  Just as one is going to seed, a new plant is emerging with new leaves to harvest.  Because this plant yields so quickly, you can plant well into the fall. Once the plants are established, they can withstand nearly freezing temperatures.

 

Care and Maintenance

Watering: Cilantro/coriander does not tolerate overly wet conditions very well.  When the plant is small, it needs to be kept moist to thrive, but once it is established, it needs very little water.

Fertilizing: You can fertilize your cilantro/coriander plant with a nitrogen fertilizer once or twice during the growing season, but keep in mind that too much fertilizer can damage the plant and can also change the flavor of the plant.

Weeding: The taproot of this plant is extremely sensitive, which is why it is difficult to transplant.  You need to keep this in mind when you are weeding.  Avoid disrupting the root system in any way while removing weeds in close proximity to the plant.

Diseases and Insects

Due to its strong scent, cilantro/coriander does not have many insect or disease issues.  You may see the occasional leaf spot or powdery mildew.  Both could be an issue of overcrowding.  You may also see the occasional leafhopper or two.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting cilantro: Harvest cilantro leaves when they reach 6” long.  Harvest at least once a week to encourage the plant to keep producing leaves.

Harvesting coriander: When the plant begins to turn brown and seed heads form, cut the entire plant stem and fasten a bunch together like a bouquet.  Cover the bunch with a brown bag and secure with an elastic.  Hang this upside down in a cool, dry place to allow the seeds to fall into the paper bag.

Fresh storage: Cilantro leaves do not keep well after cutting.  If not using immediately, place cutting in a glass of water like you would a flower, cover with a plastic baggie, and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Dry storage cilantro: It should be noted that drying cilantro causes the herb to lose much of its flavor.  If you do dry your cilantro, store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.

Dry storage coriander: After your coriander seeds are completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container out of direct sunlight or you can grind them up with a pepper mill or coffee grinder. Store the ground coriander the same way that you would the seeds.

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