Coriander (coriandrum sativum) is a fast-growing plant that is best suited to the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. A popular flavor in many recipes, the entire plant is edible. The seeds of the coriander plant are used as a spice in many ethnic dishes. The leaves are used as the herb known as cilantro.
Growing Coriander from Seeds
Coriander can be grown from seeds. However, moving the growing plants can cause them to quickly bolt, or go to seed. Unless the plant is being cultivated for seeds alone, it is best to plant the seeds in pots that will not be moved or sow them directly into the ground. To plant indoors, start seeds in peat pots and directly transplant into the ground later. Keep them moist, and seeds will germinate in three days to three weeks.
Whether transplanting or sowing seed directly, soil should be combined with organic matter such as compost, and horticultural grit can be added for drainage. Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep six to eight inches apart. Rows should be spaced with twelve inches between. Coriander should be planted in a sunny site, but should not be grown in summer heat as this causes the plants to bolt.
Coriander Maintenance and Care
Coriander needs plenty of water in addition to sunshine. When the plants reach two inches in height, they should be fed a water-soluble fertilizer. If grown for the leaves (cilantro), maximize foliage by pinching back young plants an inch. The top of the main stem can be cut off at any signs of seeds or flowers to encourage leaf growth. Coriander can be resown every three weeks to maintain a steady supply between spring and fall, and if let to go to seed, it will self-sow producing new plants.
Coriander is an easy to grow and useful plant. The seed can be used to ease stomach problems and lack of appetite. Its fragrance is found in many cosmetics, and it was once used in rituals for healing and love. Coriander has a long and rich history as both a spice and an herb.