How to Grow Cilantro and
When to Harvest Cilantro

Learning how to grow cilantro takes a little knowledge. 

And learning when to plant cilantro seeds is key to growing cilantro successfully to get the most from your cilantro harvest.

Coriander is actually another name for cilantro seeds and they are used as a culinary herb or spice in many international dishes.

Growing cilantro takes a little practice, but once you understand how to take care of this plant - it can actually replicate on its own. 

When you learn how to grow cilantro, you will be able to add this unique flavored herb to your meals in many different ways.

How to Grow Cilantro

  • Moisten your rich nutrient loose soil and space seeds about 3 inches apart in your garden or in an adequately sized pot
  • Pat soil lightly with your hand and cover seeds with approx. 1/4 inch of rich soil
  • Gently mist top soil with water
  • Soil must be well drained and moist for optimum growth
  • Seeds will begin to sprout in 7 to 10 days
  • Cilantro requires near full sun or partial shade in order to grow - a minimum of 4 hours of sunshine is recommended
  • After the seeds sprout, add a bit of mulch or compost to your cilantro bed to provide nutrients and an extra layer of protection from heat for its roots
  • Cilantro requires adequate watering, but do not over water
  • If you allow cilantro seeds to mature, they will resow themselves back into your garden and you will have another crop in a few weeks

Tips for How to Grow Cilantro

Growing cilantro should be done in early Spring and Fall when the weather is cool.  This plant flourishes with cool nights and sunny days.

Cilantro can even withstand a slight frost especially if the leaves are covered. 

However, growing cilantro in hot weather could cause it to bolt to flowers. 

Also, some say transplanting cilantro is not ideal for this plant, so it may be best to sow seeds where you want them to grow.

Harvesting Cilantro Leaves

Cilantro is similar to parsley in taste as well as in appearance only with a more citrus like flavor.  Cilantro plants will grow to about 2 feet in height.

Cilantro leaves can be cut at any time during their growth period, but waiting until your plant is about 6 inches tall will give your plant optimum leaf growth.

Harvesting leaves will encourage growth, so harvest at least once a week. Young leaves are the best tasting, but start by removing the outer leaves.

The cilantro plant lives a relatively short life (approx. 6 to 7 weeks), so these leaves will not be available for too long - especially once it gets too warm.

Its important to not pick too many stems at once as this will weaken your plant. 

Use a shear and cut them off near ground level and only harvest about 1/3 of your plant at a time.

Cut leaves from one area of the plant and the next time from a different spot. Leave the center stem alone!

Some people like to wait until cilantro is full grown and then pull it up by the roots - as some people like to eat the roots.

You can plant cilantro every 3 to 4 weeks apart - this is how to grow cilantro in order to have an abundant supply during its growing season.

Store fresh cut cilantro leaves in your fridge or in a glass container with a shallow amount of water.

How to Grow Cilantro - Harvesting Cilantro Seeds

The closer it gets to June 21st, the quicker cilantro goes to seed or flowering. 

By the way, you can also use cilantro flowers as an edible garnish.

Pinching off the flower heads of cilantro may slightly deter it from going to seed, but once cilantro has set its mind to flower - it will. 

Cilantro will develop a flower stalk prematurely when soil temperature exceeds 75 degrees F.

So when the weather gets warm or when the plant is near the end of its cycle, it will send up a long flower stalk that bears white or pinkish flowers which later turns into cilantro seeds.

Once cilantro plants begin to seed, you can collect them and use as a spice or save them to replant for next season. 

Wait for the flower heads to dry, then inspect the seed pods to make sure they are brown and easily crack open.

As soon as the seed pods turn brown, you can cut the stalk and stick the whole thing upside down into a big paper brown bag.

You can mark the paper bag and leave the pods to dry for a couple of weeks if needed.  Then shake the bag hard till coriander seeds fall out of the pods.

You can also take the pods and roll them around in the palm of your hand till they break open. 

Make sure to store them in an airtight container in a cool area.

What is Coriander?

Coriander is the dried fruit of the cilantro plant and it is also a renowned aphrodisiac.  These dried fruit or seed pods are small and round with a yellowish-brown to brown color.

Coriander is used as a spice that can be used whole or ground.

Ground coriander is a prized flavor in many International cuisines and it is described as a cooling spice.

What is coriander used for in International Cuisine?  It is used as a spice in Indian curries, Mexican chili powder, European pastries, Middle-Eastern coffee, Pickled vegetables, Middle-Eastern yogurt dips, and Alcoholic beverages - to name just a few.

As you can see, learning how to grow cilantro will offer you more than its tasty leaves.

All parts of the cilantro plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried coriander pods are the parts most commonly consumed.

Coriander has an earthy lemony citrus flavor when crushed and finely ground seeds have a thickening effect when used in cooking. 

Coriander can also be roasted or heated on a dry pan before grinding to enhance and alter its aroma.

Go to How to Grow Parsley

Return to Planting a Garden