The Three Most Important Things to Do For Success with Coriander

Cilantro is the Spanish word for the leaves of the coriander plant. I hope we have that little issue sorted out. (There is no "cilantro" plant) :-)

There was a bit of research that hit my desk indicating there may be a genetic reason for those who do not like coriander leaves / cilantro. If that's the case, I have that gene for sure. This is not one of my favorite flavors.

Starting Seeds

You can start coriander seeds indoors very easily but understand that the seedlings do NOT like to be transplanted into the herb garden.

Grow in individual peat pots (two to three seeds per pot and thin to a single plant) in the middle of March. Cover the seed as it does not like light when germinating (cover ΒΌ inch deep) and keep at 60-65F for germination. Transplant outdoors after your last frost.


Coriander leaves (Cilantro)

Coriander Prefers Light Soil

Coriander prefers a light soil (sandy) with good drainage and being in full sun. It doesn't do well in heavier soils (clay) or wet soils. Having said that, you do have to water it until it is well established and growing strongly.

Planting Coriander

For far less hassle, sow directly into the ground outdoors (cheaper than buying plants too).

The seeds usually germinate well if planted in early May (USDA zone 4) or late April in warmer areas. If the spring is cold and wet, delay planting until it dries out a bit because the seed is prone to rotting if kept too damp.

When seedlings are three inches tall, thin to one plant every 10-12 inches.

Coriander is an annual in the north but a semi-tender perennial in more southerly climates. It may start to self-sow in warmer gardens where it is happy. You do have to allow some of the seeds to mature to brown seed to let this happen (caution, it can get weedy)

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Harvest the seed as soon as the flower umbels turn lightish brown and the seeds are immature. They will be useful at this stage.

The leaves - now known as cilantro - can be harvested anytime but until the plant has set seed (mid August) those leaves may have a bitter or offensive smell/taste if used fresh. Dried leaves lose the smell so if planning on early leaf harvests, plan on drying the plant outdoors.

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