Cilantro is a very common plant in the herb garden. It is widely used in Asian, Italian, and Mexican dishes. Often times cilantro and coriander get confused – cilantro is the leafy green part of the plant, while coriander is the dried seed of the plant.
Both can come in very handy in the kitchen for adding extra flavor to your meal.
If adding cilantro to cooked foods, add towards the end of the cooking process; heat will dissipate the flavor.
The leaves can also be dried for later use, but the flavor is much milder. Leaves are best used fresh and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
One popular variety of cilantro is ‘Santo’, due to its better tolerance of high temperatures and humidity. ‘Calypso‘ is another popular variety of cilantro and is very slow to bolt.
How to Plant & Care for Cilantro
Direct-sow seeds after the last frost date in average, well-drained, slightly acid soil. Most articles you may read about cilantro suggest to planting cilantro by seed only.
It has a very long taproot and do not do well transplanting.
Keep seeds and seedlings evenly moist. Gradually thin seedlings to about 1″ apart.
Water it during dry weather as plants do not fair well in hot, dry conditions. Plants can often be overwintered in northern climates using a cold frame and grow very well indoors in flower pots.
How to Harvest Cilantro
Thin out whole plants as needed, or begin picking leaves from the lower part of the plant when several stems have developed.
The lower leaves (sometimes called Chinese parsley) have more of the desired spicy flavor than do the upper leaves of the plant.
The flowers of the cilantro plant are tiny white or lavender and are edible. Usually when the cilantro plant begins to flower, it means the plant has reached its peak flavor.
Cut the heads of the plant when the seedpods begin to turn brown. Hang the heads upside down in paper bags to catch the seeds.
Use the seeds whole or ground as coriander.
Pests & Diseases of Cilantro
The great taste and many uses of this herb should convince you to make it a part of your herb garden.