If you love Mexican food, you’ll love Bonnie Plants Cilantro. The leaves have an instantly recognizable fragrance that fills a room delivering a distinctive aroma and flavor also part of Caribbean and Asian foods from recaito / sofrito to salsas, curries, salads, chutneys, herbed butters, and meat marinades.
Cilantro looks like flat leaf Italian parsley, but the leaves are thinner. It grows in a rosette of stemmy leaves that are ready to harvest shortly after planting. Young leaves have the best flavor, so be sure to harvest often. It is a fast-growing annual except in milder climates where it will overwinter. Cilantro grows tall and blooms at the end of its life, usually after the weather gets hot. After it blooms, harvest the seeds–they are what you buy in spice jars as coriander, another common ingredient in Asian cooking. You can grind the seeds or use them whole. Some gardeners also let the seeds drop to make new plants.
Fall is a great time to grow cilantro in mild climates, as the plants are frost tolerant and love the cool weather in fall, winter, and early spring.
Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
- Type Cool season annual, though can overwinter in milder climates
- Planting time Early spring, fall
- Features Aromatic leaves, flavorful seeds
- Light Full sun to part shade
- Soil Light, moist but well drained
- Spacing 12 to 18 inches
- Plant size 18 to 24 inches tall, 12 inches wide
- Garden use In containers, herb and flower gardens
- Culinary use Leaves & seeds in Mexican, Caribbean or Asian dishes
Quick Guide to Growing Cilantro
- Plant cilantro during the cool days of spring or fall.
- Grow cilantro in an area that receives full sun and has rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Offer afternoon shade if you live in a warmer climate.
- Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. For growing in containers, consider a premium bagged potting mix.
- Keep soil moist and use a soaker hose or drip irrigation if necessary.
- Encourage prolific leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
- Harvest cilantro leaves once they are large enough to eat. Avoid harvesting more than a third of the plant at any one time.
Growing cilantro adds a lot of healthy, fresh flavor to your kitchen. Freshly chopped cilantro is an excellent source of potassium, is low in calories, and is good for the digestive system. It is best to use fresh cilantro in cooking since it does not dry very well. Add chopped leaves at the last minute for maximum flavor. Cilantro blends well with mint, cumin, chives, garlic, and marjoram. Store by freezing the leaves in cubes of water or oil; you can dry them, too, but they lose a lot of their flavor this way, which explains why growing your own is far better than buying it from the spice rack.