How to Grow Your Own Coriander (Cilantro)

What is Coriander?

Coriander is coriandrun sativum,part of the Parsley family.  The entire plant is edible, and its leaves are known in the United States as cilantro while the seeds are known as coriander.  Coriander seeds have a warm and mild flavor, while cilantro leaves taste similar to citrus-like parsley.  Many people like the flavor of coriander but strongly dislike the flavor of cilantro, sometimes describing the taste as metallic.  Coriander sometimes goes by the names of Chinese Parsley, or Japanese Parsley.  It is widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Oriental, and Spanish recipes.  Coriander seeds are commonly used in curries, soups, and on meats. Cilantro is most commonly used in salsas or sauces, and on salads. 

Coriander in your garden

Coriander is an annual herb, and may be started from a seed indoors four to six weeks before spring, or outdoors in early spring.  It should be grown in a pot, and never transplanted.  Coriander has a delicate root system and transplanting often will cause you to lose your plant.  If you wish, you may bury the pots in your garden.  If you are burying the pot in your herb garden, be sure it has a hole in the bottom to allow water drainage.  One of the most important factors to remember with this plant is to keep the soil well drained.  Coriander will grow from 1 ½ feet tall to 2 feet tall, and prefers full sunlight.  It will grow well in soils with a ph of 6.1 to 7.8.  It thrives with a little watering, do not over water this plant.

Harvesting and storage

You may begin harvesting the cilantro leaves when the plant reaches six inches tall.  If you also wish to harvest the seeds, be careful how many leaves you take.  Cilantro leaves should be used fresh, they will lose flavor when dried.  You may use the leaves whole or chopped. 

To harvest seeds, wait until they are ripe.  The seeds will have a less than pleasing aroma before they are fully ripe, smell them to check ripeness.  Seeds should be harvested directly from the plant, don’t wait for them to fall off.  Store your seeds whole.  They should be ground on an as needed basis, as ground or powdered coriander will lose its flavor rapidly.  Whole seeds will last longer.

Attributed medicinal uses

A great amount of medicinal uses are attributed to this plant.  Coriander is most popular for its use as a carminative.  A carminative prevents gas from forming in your intestines, or else helps you to release a current build up of gas.  Coriander can also be applied directly to the skin in a paste form to help ease rheumatism pains, or heal ulcers.  It is commonly used in Ayurvedic remedies as a digestive aid, to help bladder problems, and for vertigo or headaches.

To begin growing your own coriander, start from seeds which you may purchase at your local nursery, or through an online retailer.  After you have grown your first coriander, be sure to set aside some of the seeds for cultivating the following year.  This is an investment you only need make once.  Coriander is an amazing herb that will be a wonderful addition to your herb garden, and very useful as a flavoring in your kitchen. 


Two years personal experience growing and cooking with coriander

Disclosure:  I am not a medical professional.  Coriander can cause an allergic reaction in some people.  Thoroughly research any medicinal remedy and discuss it with your Doctor.