All about Cilantro and How to Grow it
Adding some cilantro plants in your kitchen garden will give you some advantages. This herb is rich in nutrients. Therefore, it will make you healthier. Moreover, cilantro also tastes and smells great. As a result, it will make your cooking more delicious. Therefore, it is a must for you to it in your garden. Planting this herb is not difficult if you know the tips of how to grow cilantro.
Learn more about how to grow rosemary.
What You Must Know about Cilantro
Before you start the process of how to grow cilantro, it is better for you to know more about this herb. It must be noted that cilantro plant and coriander plant are the same. Cilantro is the leaves of coriander plant. Meanwhile, coriander is the name of the seeds produced by this plant. However, in this article, we will refer it as the cilantro plant because the aim of growing it is to harvest the leaves.
And if you never grow this plant before, you need to get to find out more about it so that you will be successful in growing cilantro. These are some information you need to know about this plant.
1. Origin and History of Cilantro
It is widely believed that cilantro is native to southern Europe and western Asia. The name of this leaf comes from Spanish word which means coriander. It is derived from the word coriandrum. Cilantro and coriander had been used for about 5000 years by ancient civilizations, such as ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Arabian.
In those civilizations, the seeds and leaves of this plant were not only used for cooking. They are also used in religious rites and medication. The Romans introduced this plant to England. But, it was difficult to grow in this region at that time. Later on, cilantro was spread to Mexico in the 1500’s. Then, it was introduced to North America in the 1600’s.
2. The Description of The Plant
The cilantro plant is scientifically named as coriandrum sativum. It is an annual plant. Once this plant produces seeds, it will die. This plant is compact. Its height is about 50 cm tall. The stem and branches of this plant is quite small.
Meanwhile, the shape of the leaf looks like a fan. These leaves have pungent taste with a touch of lemon flavor. However, few people describe this flavor as soapy. You can harvest the leaves when the cilantro plant is about 30 to 50 days old.
Cilantro produces small white flowers that bloom in clusters. These flowers usually bloom in the spring or summer. In addition, they attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. With the help of these pollinators, the flowers will develop coriander. It usually takes about 100 days for the plant to produce matured seeds that are ready to harvest.
Since you grow this plant for the cilantro, you must prevent the plant from flowering or, in other words, bolting. It is because a flowering cilantro plant will not produce delicious leaves. But, if you want to get some coriander seeds for next season planting, you can let some of your cilantro plants to flower and goes to seed.
3. Growing Condition
When you are in the process of how to grow cilantro, you need to make sure that you prepare the planting spot properly. These are several things you need to think about when preparing the spot.
The cilantro plant is capable of adapting to various soil types, such as sandy and loam, loamy, and clay and loam soil. However, the soil must be rich in organic matter and has good drainage. This plant grows quickly so that it is important to provide lots of nutrients. If the soil in your garden is not fertile enough, you need to mix it with compost or other fertilizer.
Moreover, you must make sure that the soil is slightly acidic. This plant grows best in pH level between 6.2 and 6.8. If you need to improve your soil pH level, you can mix it with certain amount of lime. Meanwhile, to lower the pH level, you can use peat or elemental sulfur.
Cilantro will thrive both in full sun and part sun. As a result, you can grow it in almost every part of your garden. But, it is important for you to make sure that your cilantro plant gets enough sunlight. Therefore, it will grow into a healthy and strong plant.
This particular herb is a cool season plant. It loves to grow in cool damp spring and hot dry summer. It is tolerant to light frost. But, it will suffer in hot and humid environment. This plant is adaptable to USDA hardiness zones 3 to 11.
Since cilantro is a cool season crop, it grows well in temperature of 17oC to 27oC. However, different varieties may have different heat tolerant. Therefore, you must remember to read the tag before you start performing the steps of how to grow cilantro.
Best Time to Grow Cilantro
In order to plant this herb successfully, you need to start the process of how to grow cilantro at the right time. People in different hardiness zones must plant it in different times. For you who live in hardiness zone 3 to 8, you must grow it in the spring. But, the best time to grow cilantro for you who live in hardiness zones 9 to 11 is in the fall.
4. Tips of Growing Cilantro
There are a couple of challenges in growing this herb. However, with some tips of how to grow cilantro, you can harvest it successfully.
One of those challenges is bolting. It happens when the day lengthens and the weather is hot. Temperature that changes suddenly and drastically can also cause the plant to bolt. Because of this, the plant will go to seed and die. As a result, you will not be able to harvest the leaves any longer.
To prevent it, you need to plant it at the right time. Moreover, you must prune or harvest this plant periodically. If you see any signs of flowering, you need to snip the top of the main stem. Therefore, flowers will not develop. In addition, you must mulch the soil around the cilantro plant. It will help the soil to stay cool.
Another challenge in growing cilantro is that cilantro seedlings do not survive transplantation well. Therefore, it is better for you to sow the seeds directly on the ground. If you plan to grow cilantro in a container, you had better germinate the seeds in a big pot. Therefore, you don’t need to transplant the seedlings.
5. Cilantro Variety
There are several varieties of cilantro that you can plant. Each of them has slightly different characters and requires different environment to grow. In consequence, you need to decide which one is best for you before you start the steps of how to grow cilantro. These are some cilantro that varieties you can consider.
This cilantro variety does not bolt easily. As a result, you can have prolonged harvest. To grow this plant, you must sow the seeds in temperature of 18oC to 21oC. It is best planted in rich and well-drained soil. With the right care, this plant will grow up to 45 cm tall.
This type of cilantro grows quickly. In hardiness zone 8 and 9, this variety of cilantro will live through the winter. Therefore, you can harvest its leaves in winter. If you perform successive planting, you can harvest the leaves in the fall, winter, and spring. This variety will give you large leaves.
This particular variety has smaller and more featherlike leaves. The flavor of these leaves is sweeter and milder than the common cilantro. Therefore, it is perfect for you who cannot stand the flavor of the regular cilantro. This annual plant will mature in about a month. Moreover, it will grow up to 60 cm tall and 35 cm wide.
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How to Grow Cilantro
Cilantro is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Therefore, you will likely be able to perform the steps of how to grow cilantro without much difficulty. This quick growing plant can be planted both outdoors and indoors. However, the later needs extra care to be successful.
1. How to Grow Cilantro Outdoors
If you want to grow this herb outdoors, you can follow these steps.
Planting Site Preparation
Since you are going to sow the seeds directly to the ground, you need to prepare the planting site beforehand. It is essential for you to loosen the soil in the planting site to a depth of 45 cm. Moreover, you need to mix it with compost or add nitrogen rich fertilize to the soil.
If the soil in your garden does not drain the water very well, it is better for you to make a raised bed. In addition, it is also important for you to make sure that the soil is slightly acidic.
Sow the cilantro seeds about 1 cm deep. Space the seeds about 5 cm apart and keep the soil moist. It usually takes a week for the cilantro seeds to germinate. Once they grow into seedlings, you can thin the plants to 15 cm apart.
Water your cilantro plants regularly. It is essential to keep the soil moist but not wet. When the plants are about 5 cm tall, fertilize them with a diluted fertilizer. Cilantro plants grow quickly. As a result, pests and plant diseases have no time to affect them. Therefore, you don’t need to worry much about them.
However, weed will likely grow around these plants. To avoid it, you can apply a layer of mulch around the cilantro. In addition, pruning is important in growing this herb. It will cause the plant to grow more leaves and prevent bolting. Therefore, you can have higher yield.
You don’t need to wait for long to harvest cilantro. After the plants reach 15 cm in height, you can harvest the leaves. If your plants produce large leaves, you can snip the leaves individually. But, if your plants have smaller cilantro, you need to harvest the leaves and the stems.
2. How to Grow Cilantro Indoors
If you plan to grow cilantro indoors, you can follow these steps
You need to have terracotta pots, potting mix, sand, and 20-20-20 fertilizer. It is important for you to choose high quality potting soil. Mix this soil with sand and fertilizer. Fill the pots with this mix.
The germination process is similar to the process of direct sowing above. However, you don’t need to bother about the spacing. You can sow two or three seeds in one pot. Therefore, if one of them is not healthy, you still have cilantro plants to grow.
When you plant cilantro indoors, you need to make sure that the plants get 5 hours of full sun a day. You can place the pots near a sunny window so that the plants get enough light. If you want to gain more success, you can use a grow light and turn it on for about 12 hours a day.
In addition, you need to make sure that the plants get enough water. You will likely need to water them more thoroughly than those planted directly to the ground. It is also essential to add fertilizer to the soil once in two weeks.
It is recommended to harvest indoor cilantro plants gently because the plants are more fragile. In harvesting this herb, it is important to snip the growing tips. Therefore, the plants will grow more leaves. Indoor cilantro plants usually do not produce lots of leaves. In consequence, you will not be able to get a big harvest.
Growing cilantro in your own garden is fun. In order to get more harvest, you need to plant this herb successively. Therefore, when one of your plants goes to seed or die, you still have other plants to harvest. In addition, you need to consider letting some of your cilantro plants blooming and developing seeds. As a result, you can plant this herb next year with these seeds.
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