With bright green, fern-textured stems, cilantro holds its own in beds or pots, forming a clump of sturdy, flavorful stems. Every part of cilantro promises a taste treat: spicy leaves, pungent seeds (known as coriander), and tangy roots. Most gardeners grow cilantro for the foliage, which boasts a citrusy bite that enlivens Mexican and Thai cooking. You might see this herb called Chinese parsley.
Once flowers form, leaf flavor disappears. Pinch plants frequently to keep flowers at bay. Cilantro tends to bloom as summer heat settles in; growing plants in partial shade and adding mulch can stave off flower shoots — but not indefinitely. To ensure a season-long supply of leaves, sow seeds every 2-4 weeks. If plants set seed, dry seeds for use as coriander, and save a few for sowing. Allow flowers to drop seeds in the garden and you may be rewarded with a second crop.
Light: Part Sun, Sun
Type: Annual, Herb
Height: Under 6 inches to 8 feet
Width: 4-10 inches wide
Flower color: Blue, Pink, White
Seasonal features: Summer bloom
Problem solvers: Deer resistant
Special features: Attracts birds, Fragrance, Good for containers, Low maintenance
How to Plant Cilantro
Once you have prepared the cilantro seeds, you need to plant the seeds. You can either start cilantro indoors or outdoors. If you are starting the seeds indoors, you will be transplanting cilantro to the outdoors later on.
If you are transplanting cilantro into your garden, dig holes 3 to 4 inches apart and place the plants in them. Water thoroughly after transplanting.Put the seeds in the soil and then cover them with about a 1/4-inch layer of soil. Leave the cilantro growing until it is at least 2 inches tall. At this time, thin the cilantro to be about 3 to 4 inches apart. You want to be growing cilantro in crowded conditions because the leaves will shade the roots and help to keep the plant from bolting in hot weather.
Cilantro Growing Conditions
The most important thing to remember when growing cilantro is that it does not like hot weather. Cilantro growing in soil that reaches 75 F. (24 C.) will bolt and go to seed. This means that the ideal cilantro growing conditions are cool but sunny. You should be growing cilantro where it will get early morning or late afternoon sun, but be shaded during the hottest part of the day.
Additional Tips for Growing Cilantro
Even with ideal cilantro growing conditions, this is a short lived herb. Taking the time to prune cilantro frequently will help delay bolting and prolong your harvest time, but no mater how much you prune cilantro, it will still eventually bolt. Plant new seeds about every six weeks to keep a steady supply throughout the growing season.
Cilantro will also reseed in many zones. Once the cilantro plant bolts, let it go to seed and it will grow again for you next year. Or collect the cilantro seeds and use them as coriander in your cooking.
So as you can see, with just a few tips for growing cilantro you can have a steady supply of this tasty herb growing in your garden.