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How to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro is a leafy herb and a staple ingredient in many Mexican, Indian, and Asian recipes. Not only does it add a unique flavor and aroma to dishes, but it also offers numerous health benefits. Growing cilantro in your own garden is the best way to ensure a fresh and readily-available supply of cilantro for all your culinary needs.

This guide will cover what you need to know about growing cilantro, from when to plant all the way through harvesting, plus extra tips for how to grow cilantro indoors and in containers. Let’s get started!

How to Grow Cilantro

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5 Tips for How to Grow Cilantro

Did you know? Some people have a genetic predisposition that makes cilantro taste soapy or metallic. This is because cilantro contains aldehydes, which can taste unpleasant to some people. If you don’t like cilantro, there’s not much you can do about it, but you can always substitute it with parsley or another herb in recipes.

1. Plant cilantro at the right time

Cilantro prefers cooler weather and will ‘bolt’ (or go to seed) in warm weather. Choose slow-bolt varieties if growing for the leaves (not the coriander seeds). The ideal time to plant cilantro is during the cooler months of spring or fall. You can also plant it during the summer if you live in a cooler climate.

Bolting cilantro

Plant 3-4 weeks before your last frost date in cold winter climates. Check your local planting guide for your exact planting time.

If you live in a hot climate, it’s best to plant cilantro in the fall or winter when temperatures are milder.

In the low desert of Arizona, cilantro seeds are planted and transplanted beginning in October and continuing through January

Succession plant every 2 weeks for a continual harvest of the leaves.

Perpetual Herb, Fruit & Vegetable Planting Calendar Zone 9b
  • PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists vegetables, fruit & herbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
  • HARVEST GUIDE: Photos show what may be ready to harvest that month.
  • Planting dates are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b).

2. Plant cilantro correctly

Cilantro prefers loamy, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure to enrich it. You can also add some sand to improve drainage if the soil is heavy.

Cilantro has a long taproot and does best planted from seeds. Cilantro grown from transplant often bolts more quickly than cilantro grown from seed. If you plant transplants, choose young transplants and handle the roots very carefully. 

Plant cilantro seeds ¼-½ inches (0.6-1.3 cm) deep, 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) apart. Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. 

Cilantro grows in full sun but needs partial shade in hot climates. Too much sun causes cilantro to bolt.

Parsley, dill, peas, and beans are good companion plants for cilantro.

For square-foot gardening, plant 1-9 cilantro per square foot.

3. Care for cilantro correctly

Cilantro is a low-maintenance herb that requires little attention. Water regularly and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

  • Cilantro needs regular water; do not let the plant dry out. 
  • Do not get water on leaves; it can cause powdery mildew
  • Keep flowers cut back to encourage leaf production.

How to grow cilantro in containers:

  • Cilantro has a long taproot and does best in at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep containers
  • Feed container-grown cilantro a half-strength dose of fish emulsion every 2 weeks throughout the growing season.
How to grow cilantro indoors

How to grow cilantro inside:

  • Grow in an unglazed terra-cotta pot at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep.
  • Water only when the top inch or so of soil is dry. 
  • Supplemental lighting for 10-11 hours per day, with the lights about 6 inches (15 cm) away from the plant. 
  • Ideal indoor temperature: 50°F-75°F (10°C-24°C). 
  • Feed a half-strength dose of fish emulsion every 2 weeks throughout the growing season.

4. Harvest cilantro often

Begin harvesting cilantro once the plants reach 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) tall. To harvest, simply snip off the outer leaves with a pair of scissors. This will encourage new growth and prevent the plant from bolting. Harvest the entire plant at once or pick individual leaves as needed.

Cilantro leaves are ready to harvest 50-55 days after planting from seed. The seeds (coriander) are ready after about 90-150 days.

Remember that cilantro leaves have a short shelf life, so it’s best to use them as soon as possible after harvesting. Storing them in a jar full of water will prolong storage life.

Seeds (coriander) are ready to harvest when they turn brown. Harvest seeds by cutting plants at the base and storing them upside down in a paper sack. Seeds will fall into the sack. 

How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers
Cilantro flowers
How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers
Developing seeds
Coriander Seed
Coriander seeds

Cilantro is a versatile herb that can be used in various dishes. We love it using it fresh in Our Favorite Garden Salsa and Pomegranate Jalepeño Cream Cheese Dip.

Our Favorite Garden Salsa Recipe
Pomegranate Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip

Because cilantro only grows well for about half the year here in the low desert, I love preserving cilantro by freeze-drying it for use the other half of the year.

5. Use cilantro to attract beneficial insects to your garden

Allow a few plants to go to flower; cilantro flowers attract many beneficial insects. Ladybugs (in all stages), lacewings, hoverflies, and parasitoid wasps are all drawn to the tiny flowers of bolting cilantro. 

Ladybugs love cilantro flowers

These insects help pollinate other plants in your garden and keep pests in check. By planting cilantro and allowing it to flower, you can create a healthy ecosystem in your garden that benefits all your plants.

5 Tips for Successful Companion Planting

Learn more about companion planting principles in this blog post.

Visual planting guides for vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers & vines.

If this post about how to grow cilantro was helpful, please share it:

Sophia Conover

Saturday 18th of February 2023

Very helpful thanks!

Ken Reiley

Monday 29th of November 2021

Great article, Thanks