Cilantro is an aromatic, annual herb that is fast-growing, growing best in the cooler weather of spring and fall. Cilantro and coriander are different parts of the same plant. Cilantro is commonly in reference to the plant’s leaves, which are used as an herb, and describes the vegetative stage of the plant’s life cycle. Meanwhile, coriander is referring to the seeds, which are commonly ground and used as a spice, and this happens after the plant flowers and develops seeds.
Planting and Growing Information:
Make sure to plant cilantro in the spring after the last frost date or in the fall. In the Southwestern United States, a fall planting may last through spring until the weather heats up again. It’s important to not grow cilantro in summer heat because the plants will bolt (such that it will be past harvesting). The leaves that grow on bolted plants tend to be bitter in flavor. It’s best to choose a sunny site that will allow cilantro to self-seed. Plant in an herb garden or the corner of a vegetable garden. Once the weather becomes warm, the plant will quickly finish its life cycle and send up a long stalk, which as a result, will produce blossoms and later, seeds. Little plants will sprout during the season and the following spring. Make sure to plant the seeds in light, well-drained soil and space them 1 to 2 inches apart, and space rows about 12 inches apart. Sow the seeds at 3-week intervals for continued harvest. Given it’s important to keep the seeds moist during their germination, remember to water the plants regularly.
Throughout the growing season, make sure to water the seedlings regularly; they require about 1 inch of water per week to achieve the best growth. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart so that they have room to develop healthy leaves. Once the plants have been established, they don’t need as much water per week. While it’s important to keep the plants moist, be careful not to overwater them. To help prevent weeds, mulch around the plants as soon as they’re visible above the soil. You can also till shallowly in order to prevent root damage from weeds.
Fertilize once or twice during the growing season with nitrogen fertilizer, applying ¼ cup of fertilizer per 25 feet of row. It’s important to remember to not use too much fertilizer on the plants as too much nitrogen can cause the plant to be less flavorful.
Harvest while it’s low. When the cilantro grows its stalk, cut off the plant after the seeds drop and let it self-seed. The larger leaves can be cut individually from the plants, but for smaller leaves, cut them off 1½ to 2 inches above the crown. While you can also remove the entire plant at once, you won’t be able to continue harvesting for the rest of the growing season.