How to Grow Cilantro Plants
How to Grow Cilantro Plants? When growing coriander, you get two mouth-watering herbs for the price of one: the plant itself is coriander (you can think of it as a spice or seed), and the green leaves and stems are considered to be coriander. The leaves, also called Chinese parsley, are by far the most versatile part of the plant.
Many dressings, soups, dips, side dishes, and meat dishes incorporate this green herb for instant flavor enhancement. If you find yourself cooking recipes that require coriander or just keeping fresh herbs handy, growing coriander at home is a smart investment – not to mention, delicious.
How to grow coriander from seeds
Find a container that is at least 8 inches deep, or an alternate lot. Prepare the soil by working compost or organic matter at least 18 inches deep, then smooth rake. In late spring or fall (before or after extreme heat stroke), plant the coriander seeds 1/4 inch deep and space the plants 6 to 8 inches apart. Water the plants well and often and feed them with a nitrogen fertilizer once they reach 2 inches in height.
Plants will fly away as the days get longer and temperatures rise, so make sure they’re in a place in full sun or partial shade, if you live in a particularly hot climate. If there is a risk of frost, protect your coriander with row covers. After about 50 to 55 days, the plant should be at least 6 inches tall and you can start picking the leaves. When harvesting, pick the leaves one by one or cut 1/3 of them with kitchen or pruning scissors, so that the remaining plant can continue to produce coriander. Coriander is a short-lived herb, so harvest the leaves once a week to avoid bolting the developing seeds. Once the seeds have developed, they seed themselves, making small plants appear during the current or next season.
Bonus: if you plant coriander in pots, you can move them indoors when the weather gets colder to harvest more fresh herbs (if you do it right, of course).
Follow these tips to make sure you take good care of your cilantro:
- Schedule: Plant coriander in late spring (two weeks after the last frost) or early fall to avoid hot temperatures. Coriander planted during the summer heat will have a bitter flavor and will last less time. Check your USDA plant hardiness zone for the optimal time to plant coriander – gardeners in USDA zones 8, 9, and 10 should opt for fall planting, for example.
- Soil and watering: Coriander grows best in a neutral soil pH of 6.2 to 6.8, but it is fairly tolerant and grows in just about any rich soil. You can find out the pH levels of your soil by performing a soil test at home. Once your coriander is planted, make sure the soil is moist but well drained.
- Weeds: Mulch around the coriander plants as soon as they are visible above the ground to avoid weeds. If in doubt, use a weed killer.
- Pests and diseases: The most common problems with cilantro are fungal wilt, leafhoppers, aphids, whiteflies and downy mildew. Control insects using antibacterial soap and clean up debris or dead leaves to fight wilting and mildew.
- Locking: If you don’t do it right, coriander can bolt before you have a chance to harvest. To avoid bolting, harvest the leaves often and keep the plant shaded and watered. For a season of coriander, stagger the seedlings every three to four weeks.
How to store and use the harvested coriander
After the bolts of your plant, collect the visible coriander seeds and crush them for cooking or baking. If you prefer to save the seeds for another planting, gently crush the coriander seeds to break the shell and soak them in water overnight. Let the seeds dry completely and plant next season.
Your generosity of coriander leaves, however, is best when fresh and should be used at the end of cooking for a full flavor. Wrap wet paper towels around the fresh cilantro and store in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. If you can’t eat all of the cilantro before it turns, cut the individual leaves and stick them in a freezer bag before storing them in the freezer. For specific measures, cut the coriander and keep them in an ice cube tray in the freezer. The rest is up to you: throw it in salad dressings, make your own guac or dress up a basic chicken dish.