Cilantro Is a Great Plant for Your Herb Garden
Cilantro is one of my favorite plants to grow in my kitchen garden, but it can be a little tricky. If it's not growing in its ideal conditions, the plant is prone to bolt, or go to seed, which means the plant loses that lemony, peppery flavor that so many of us love (except for those of you genetically predisposed to think the herb tastes like soap).
Whether you love the distinct flavor or can't stand it, cilantro is an herb well-worth having in your garden space. Pollinators love the delicate flowers, and you could save your own coriander seeds, which might be more to your liking if you're not a fan of the leaves.
Here are five tips to help you maximize your cilantro production in your garden.
Cilantro growing tip number one
Grow your cilantro plant in the right season
Cilantro is a member of the Apiaceae plant family, which includes carrots, celery, dill, fennel, and parsley, and these guys love cooler weather. If you live somewhere with a cold winter, you'll start growing your cilantro in the spring as soon as the threat of frost has passed. For those of you who live in a warmer climate, you'll actually grow your cilantro over the winter during your cool season.
If the weather becomes too warm, your cilantro will likely bolt, meaning it'll produce a thick central stem and tiny flowers in preparation for seed production. The leaves will change shape and taste totally different, so your goal is to prevent your plant from bolting as long as possible by growing it under its preferred conditions. Read up on our other tips to prevent your cilantro from bolting.
Next time you see cilantro starter plants being sold at the plant store next to tomatoes in late spring or summer, don't be fooled. Cilantro and tomatoes do not like the same type of weather.
Cilantro growing tip number two
Sow cilantro directly from seed
Plants in the Apiaceae family don't like being moved around or disrupted because of their delicate tap root, so when you sow cilantro seeds directly in the garden, you're more likely to enjoy the plant for longer than if you bought a starter plant from the store and transplanted it. Cilantro seeds (coriander) are large and easy to place.
When shopping for seeds, look for slow bolt or long-standing varieties. As always, prioritize organic and locally sourced seeds when possible.
Master the art of growing your own organic (and delicious) herb garden and grow enough for a year-round supply.
Based on Gardenary's introductory Gardening online course, Herb Garden Guide, this comprehensive guidebook will lead you through the step by step so that you know exactly how to grow all the culinary herbs you love right in your very own space.
Cilantro growing tip number three
Harvest regularly from your cilantro
As with other herbs, cutting the leaves regularly keeps the plant healthy and encourages more leaf production. If you're a fan of the flavor of cilantro, you'll quickly see that cilantro tastes best when it's fresh. Harvest the lower outer leaves and leave the interior leaves to keep growing.
Cilantro growing tip number four
Plant taller plants next to your cilantro
If you're trying to extend your growing season for cilantro, plant taller plants (such as tomatoes or pepper plants) around your cilantro to give your herbs and the surrounding soil some shade. Cilantro heads toward the end of its life cycle when the soil heats up, so you can buy yourself a couple extra weeks of cilantro-growing bliss with this simple form of natural sun protection. Cilantro only needs four to six hours of sunlight to grow.
Cilantro growing tip number five
Plant cilantro each week
I like to succession plant my cilantro seeds so that I have a continuous supply during its growing season. It's never a good idea to harvest more than a third of one plant at any time, so succession planting allows you to cut from one plant one week and cut from another the next when it reaches maturity.
The Herb Garden Guide
Learn the step by step to set up, grow, and harvest your own delicious, organic herbs right from your own beautiful herb garden and say goodbye to store-bought and tasteless herbs for good. The Herb Garden Guide is available inside a Gardenary 365 membership, along with our complete online course library.
Extend Your Cilantro Growing Season
Following these tips should help you extend your cilantro growing time as long as possible. When your plants do begin to bolt, you may lose garden-fresh cilantro flavor in your kitchen, but your garden will still continue to benefit. Cilantro flowers (which are edible, by the way) attract bees and butterflies. In the spring, your cilantro will be flowering just when your new tomato and pepper babies will be ready to take off for the warm season and will need pollination.
If you'd like to learn more about caring for your herbs, we have an easily downloadable Herb Garden Guidebook to help you master the art of growing your own delicious leaves in a raised bed, containers, or even small pots. Let's get growing!