Cilantro”s distinctive taste is a family favorite. Many Latin American and Asian foods would not taste the same without the citrusy-flavor of cilantro. Luckily it’s simple to learn how to grow cilantro in the garden. 

Cilantro is a cool-season annual herb grown for its leaves and seeds (coriander). Learn how to grow cilantro outside, inside, and in containers with these 5 tips. 

How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers

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5 Tips for How to Grow Cilantro

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). 

Plant after last spring frost date. Ideal soil temperature for planting is 55°F-70°F. 

In the low desert of Arizona, plant cilantro seeds and transplants beginning in October and plant through January

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

How to grow cilantro in Arizona

2. Plant cilantro correctly

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 deep, 3-4 inches apart. Keep soil moist until the seeds sprout. 

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

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

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

How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers

3. Care for cilantro correctly

  • Cilantro needs regular water; do not let the plant dry out. 
  • Do not get water on leaves; can cause powdery mildew
  • Keep flowers cut back to encourage leaf production.
How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers

How to grow cilantro in containers:

Cilantro has a long taproot and does best in containers at least 8 inches deep. 

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 deep.

  • Water only when top inch or so of soil is dry

  • Supplemental lighting for 10-11 hours per day with the lights about 6 inches away from the plant. 

  • Ideal indoor temperature: 50°F-75°F. 

  • Feed a half-strength dose of fish emulsion every 2 weeks throughout the growing season.

4. Harvest cilantro often

How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers

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

Harvest leaves after the plant is 3-6 inches tall. To harvest leaves, cut stalks at soil level.

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

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

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, hover-flies, and parasitoid wasps are all drawn to the tiny flowers of bolting cilantro. 

Cilantro attracts beneficial insects
Ladybugs love cilantro flowers
Cilantro attracts beneficial insects
Cilantro flowers attract pollinators
How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers
How to Grow Cilantro: Outside, Inside and in Containers
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