As a cook and a gardener, cilantro is a special herb in your garden. It is also known as Coriander (the seeds). It has been among the most used herbs for centuries.
Cilantro is a herb and a spice. It is known to bring a distinctive aroma and flavor to a dish. It’s a fast-growing plant that like cool weather conditions to give you delicious leaves. Too much sunlight can affect the taste of the leaves.
So, can I grow cilantro from seeds? You can start growing the plant from seeds or stem cuttings.
How to grow Cilantro from seeds
Starting a plant might seem hectic to some people, but it gives you the joy of getting fresh seedlings free from diseases. However, if you don’t know how to grow cilantro from seeds, then you might fail on your first try.
First, what do you need to plant cilantro from seeds?
Before you start looking for a plant for your garden, you need to ensure you have all the requirements or if they are readily available from a local store. To plant cilantro from seeds, here are the things you need.
- Starter pot
- container/ raised bed
- Potting soil
Where can you plant cilantro?
The location of the plant depends on your preference. Some people choose to place it in a pot indoors or outdoors, and others prefer to place it outdoors in a garden.
Other than that, the ideal planting location should have loose, well-draining soil. It should have access to partial shade or full sun. The plant prefers afternoon sheds rather than direct full sun.
Also, don’t place it in an area with tall plants that will obstruct it from getting the sun in summer. If you are planting it in a container, you can move it around to get sunshine during the day or place it in a window, usually a south-facing window that has access to sunlight.
Growing cilantro from seeds
Cilantro is the type of plant that can produce its seeds. So, you can choose to purchase from the store or direct-sow from the garden. The cilantro or coriander seeds are the fruit of the plant, and they are known as shizocarps. When you split the seeds into half, they are called a mericarp. So, when you plant a schizocarp, you plant two in one.
You can start planting in early spring, either in late March or early April, so that it can get a bit of frost. Growing cilantro from seeds means you start about 14 to 20 days earlier to allow the seedlings to grow.
Here is a step-by-step process to follow when planting cilantro from seeds.
Step 1: Prepare starter bed
The starter bed is a bed you can use to plants the seeds till they are ready to transplant. The best soil to use here is a potting soil because it contains the nutrients the seeds need to grow.
Add soil into the starter bed until it is ¾ full in each container. Ensure the soil has fertilizer. Spray the soil until it’s moist.
Step 2: Plant seeds
Place 1 to 2 seeds in each container. Then, cover the seeds lightly with ¼” of soil. If your bed doesn’t have sections, space the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart.
Step 3: cover the starter container
Most people prefer to leave the pot as it is, however, you can cover it to maintain the moisture in the soil. Place the bed in a room with temperatures of about 70 degrees F.
Step 4: Thin the seedlings
After 7 to 10 days, the seedlings start to grow. When they are about two inches, remove the weak seedlings from each container, leaving only the strong seedling.
After two to three weeks from planting the seed, the seedlings are ready for transplanting. Prepare the soil, whether in the garden or in a container. Ensure that you mix the soil with compost and add water to make the soil moist.
Place the plant in rows 12 inches apart. Add mulch around the soil to prevent weeds and improve moisture retention. Also, remember to water the plant. Give it about 1 inch of water per week. Once it’s mature, you can start giving it less water.
Tips to grow cilantro
The first tip you should know is that the plant requires exposure to direct sunlight. Ensure it gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. If it’s indoors, place it in a window facing south or west.
If your plant is unable to get sun, you can provide it with grow lights. Grow lights can be purchased from a local store. Exposure to sunlight ensures the cilantro stems don’t become leggy as they try to find a source of light.
The plant requires soil that is rich in nutrients and is well draining. If you are planting in a pot, you can choose to purchase compost potting soil. Besides that, the garden can work in a raised bed.
Cilantro needs water to grow to maturity. The best amount of water is when the soil is moist. At times, gardeners give the plant more or less water, which can kill the plant in different ways.
A pot that has good draining soil can remove the extra water through the holes under the pot. At the end, the soil remains with only the water it requires for growth.
If the water doesn’t drain out, then you have poor draining soil, and you need to report with fresh soil. Too much water causes root rot, attack by pests such as aphids, powdery mildew, and other problems such as damping off.
Use a sprinkler to give the plant water. Also, spray around the soil and not on the plant. The best time to spray the soil is when it’s dry. You can check using your finger or buy a moisture meter.
Avoid using tap water on your plant because it container minerals such as chlorine.But, you can let the tap water settle for 24 hours so that the minerals can evaporate then you use it. Otherwise, you can use rain or distilled water.
Temperature and humidity
Cilantro is known to be a plant for cool temperatures. It grows best in areas with temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are outdoors, they can survive the frost conditions.
When the temperatures rise, cilantro goes into reproductive mode. This mode is known as bolting. In this mode, it becomes thin, forms large umbrella-like structures, and it loses its flavor.
Adding fertilizer to the soil increases the productivity of your plant. You can add fertilizer such as diluted fish emulsion into the container. Since a container has a limited amount of soil, the nutrients are also limited, thus you should as the plant grows to ensure the plant gets enough nutrients from the soil.
Harvesting cilantro plant
Harvesting cilantro planted from seeds can be different from microgreens. Microgreens are ready to harvest after 20 days of planting. But, for the others, they are ready when they are about 6 inches, that is about 35 to 45 days.
When harvesting, ensure that you use clean scissors and hands. Since it is an annual plant, you can only harvest for about 8 weeks after it matures. When it’s ready, cut about ⅓ of it every week until you harvest the whole plant. If you want to extend its lifetime, pinch off the top of the cilantro.
The best Cilantro Varieties
The criteria to use when purchasing cilantro seeds is to check the “slow to bolt to seed” instruction in the packet. Some varieties include Santo Long Standing, Slow Bolt, and Calypso.