Growing Cilantro: How to Grow Coriander

Growing cilantro is pretty easy to do, and once you learn how to grow cilantro you’ll have a happy and steady supply of it for all of your cooking needs.

Many people love the taste of cilantro in their salsas and other dishes. It’s also a very pretty and fragrant plant to have in an indoor window herb garden.

Best of all, learning how to grow Cilantro will also teach you how to grow Coriander, since the two spices come from the same plant.  In most recipes, cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant, and coriander typically refers to the seeds.

Wondering what the difference are between coriander and cilantro? See our post on cilantro vs. coriander to learn more! 

How to Grow Cilantro {Coriander Plant}

how to grow cilantro

The first thing you need to know is the cilantro plant has a pretty short lifespan – with it typically only lasting about 6-7 weeks before going to seed.

Many people get discouraged by this, thinking they did something wrong to kill the plant, but that’s not the case! The plant just doesn’t live very long and quickly goes to seed, especially if the conditions are less than ideal.

Don’t let this stop you from trying to grow it though! Once you learn how to grow it from seed you’ll be able to have a steady supply all the time and trust me that it’s worth it for fresh salsas and more!

Growing Cilantro: Should you start with Plants or Seeds?

growing cilantro plants
Cilantro Seedlings are easy to start with, but may not last very long since the lifespan of the plant is only 6-8 weeks! Learning to grow from seed gives you year-round cilantro and coriander spice!

Many people will start off with cilantro by buying the plant at a local garden shop. This of course is perfectly fine to start with, but it does help to know how to grow them yourself from seed.

Since the plant has such a short lifespan, it really helps to know how to grow it from seed. Not only does this cut down on your costs, but if you want to have fresh cilantro all the time you are going to want to be able to use the seeds from the last plant to grow a new one.

Growing Indoors vs. Outdoors

Cilantro will grow both indoors and outdoors, but for many of us in colder climates growing indoors is the best choice because you can enjoy cilantro year round.

I like to grow cilantro indoors, and the good news is it does not take up much space! In fact, you can easily have several plants growing at once if you have enough space for it.

The first thing to do is to get a large container to use. You can use a flower pot or window box, or you can also just use a few small little pots if you do not really want or need a lot of plants at once.

You will also need to buy a packet of starter seeds. You may wish to look for “slow bolt” varieties such as Country Acres Cilantro Seeds, as these plants are not as quick to turn to seed.

Whichever option you choose, the caring for the plant is the same – and either way you will have new seeds to start with! If you are growing from seed you collect from a plant, be sure to pay attention to our tips below for how to prepare the seeds.

Preparing the Coriander Seeds for Growing Cilantro

Coriander seeds need a bit of preparation before planting. This is something many people do not know and can sometimes make all the difference on when and whether your seeds sprout.

Note: This preparation is only necessary if you are collecting seeds from another plant. If you bought your seeds, most likely you can skip this step – read the directions on the package!

how to prepare coriander seeds for growing cilantro

You’ll want to first prepare the seeds by gently crushing the hull that encloses them. This can usually be done just by a light pinch to the seed between your thumb and pointer finger. The hull, sometimes also called the husk, is the outer part of the seeds which are hard, round, and typically a tan or brown color.

Next, you’ll want to then soak them in water. You can soak them overnight, or all the way up to 48 hours. In most cases, soaking them for 24 hours is plenty. Once they have soaked, remove them from the water and let them dry. I will usually put these on a paper towel for a few hours.

Doing these two simple things will greatly increase the chances of your seeds germinating. You will have much better results if you take these few steps first!

Once our seeds are ready, we can start planting! If you are growing herbs indoors you don’t really need to worry so much about putting them in little seed starters, since they will usually grow just fine in whatever pot you intend to keep them in.

However, if you intend to grow cilantro outdoors, you will want to start the seeds in peat pots first. Using peat pots makes it super easy to transplant the seeds into the ground later, as they break down easily.

Seeds should just lightly be covered with soil, with no more than 1/4″ inch layer of dirt over them. Within about a week or two you will likely see them start to sprout.

Plant Care for Cilantro

Cilantro does not do well in hot temperatures, so you will want to keep them as cool as possible. Watering should be done often enough that the soil remains moist. 

Unfortunately there is no set time for scheduling watering, since humidity levels and air temperature play a large role in how often the soil needs water.

Cilantro loves sunlight, so be sure it gets plenty of light each day – but don’t let it get overheated. Once the soil temperature reaches 75 degrees F it typically will go to seed rather quickly!

This is another reason we grow cilantro indoors, because when growing outdoors it can be difficult here to make sure it doesn’t get overheated and keep it watered properly.

If you notice that your plant is turning brown or yellow, you will want to check the soil and lighting conditions. The soil should always be moist to touch and not hot or dry or cracked. You should also make sure the plant is getting enough sunlight when growing cilantro.

Take note that sometimes the leaves will turn yellow or brown when there is not a good balance of sunlight and moisture. Check to see if the plant has too much water or not enough. Also, make sure it is getting at least 4-6 hours of sunlight each day. 

How to Harvest Cilantro From the Coriander Plant

You can harvest the leaves of the plant at any time, though the best time is usually after the plant has grown to be around 5-6 inches tall.

You should trim the leaves off the outer edge of the plant first, because this will let the ones closer to the stalk keep growing. See the diagram below.

how to harvest cilantro and collect coriander seeds

Cilantro leaves should be used fresh, as they lose a lot of flavor when they are dried. When you are cooking with a recipe that calls for cilantro, cilantro should be the last thing you add after cooking. This will ensure better flavor as well.

As your coriander plant grows, you will notice that some flowers start to form. You can prolong the life of the plant by pinching off the first early flowers that you see. When you see the flowers, this is usually the next step before going to seed.

When after about 6-8 weeks your plant starts to bloom flowers and do what most people refer to as “bolting”. 

You’ll notice at this point that there are seeds on the plant and the plant is starting to wilt. Don’t panic! This is perfectly normal – the coriander plant has a very short lifespan! You aren’t doing anything “wrong”, I promise! This one thing that is very important to know when you first start learning how to grow cilantro!

Collecting the Coriander Seeds to Plant Again

Now it is time to collect the seeds. You can collect some of those seeds to store and dry to use as coriander for cooking if you wish.

You can also take the seeds and start with the first step to prepare them for planting all over again! While the lifespan of the cilantro coriander plant is not very long, fortunately it is very easy to grow cilantro from coriander seeds.

Growing cilantro has many rewards. Is is a lot of fun to grow because it grows quickly. And, it also tastes great in a number of dishes. Whether you decide to add it to your salsa, chili, or soup, it’s always quite delicious, and the fresher the cilantro the better!

Have any questions or tips for growing cilantro? Leave them in the comments section below and we’ll try to answer them the best we can! And, if you use cilantro in cooking – please DO share your favorite ways to use cilantro – we love checking out new recipes! I’d love to hear your ideas!

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  1. What great info! Thank you. I’m very very new to trying to grow herbs and flowers. I feel well informed. Can’t wait to try!

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