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How to sow and grow cilantro

Cilantro has a particular taste. Most people love it in curries and Thai or Indian soups. 

In our Planty Garden, we grow cilantro for the leaves. But if you let the plants bloom, you can eventually harvest the seeds too.
Koriander in de Makkelijke Moestuin

What is cilantro?

Cilantro - or coriander - is an annual herb. The leaves look a little like flat parsley, but a bit rounder.

Cilantro comes from the Middle East near the Mediterranean and is widely used in Eastern and Moroccan cuisine: in stews, soups, or curries with coconut milk.

Everything is edible: the leaves, the white flowers, and the seeds. The seeds taste completely different from the leaves and are used for oriental spice mixes or pickling.

Fresh cilantro is super popular. It has a particular flavor that most people find simply delicious. But about 15% of people say it tastes like soap and can't stand it. It has something to do with your sense of smell.

Vitamins and minerals in cilantro

Like most fresh herbs, cilantro is very healthy and contains plenty of vitamins: vitamin A, several B vitamins (including folic acid), and vitamin C and E. It's also rich in iron and magnesium.

Cilantro was traditionally used to help with digestive problems and gas. It's also said to help with anemia, measles, colds, hernia, rheumatism, and arthritis. 
Korianderplantjes in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Good for your health

More about our cilantro seeds

Cilantro is an annual plant you sow directly into your garden box. You can sow as early as April and as late as August.

If you let the plant flower, the cilantro can get up to 60 cm tall. The flowers look beautiful and you can eventually harvest the seeds.
  • Species name: Coriander
  • Family: leaf
  • Plants per square patch: 9
  • Height: 20 cm (flowering: 60 cm)
  • Sowing time: April - August
  • Sowing depth: 1 cm
  • Time to harvest: after 5-6 weeks
  • Germination: 15 - 20°C in 7 - 21 days
  • Sunlight: sun and partial shade
You can find the cilantro seeds in the seed shop.

What do you need to grow your own cilantro?

Just this:
  • a 30x30 cm square patch with nutrient-rich soil mix
  • cilantro seeds
  • a place with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day
In other words: an MM-Mini, or a square patch in a garden box, filled with our soil mix: MM-Mix.

Growing your own cilantro in MM-Mix is super easy. If you use poor-quality (potting) soil, it's much harder and the results will be disappointing. So just go for the best.
Koriander zaden van de Makkelijke Moestuin
Cilantro seeds

How do you sow and grow cilantro?

Our cilantro is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next.

So you don't need to know how to grow cilantro before you start: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the whole process looks like:

Level 1: Sowing cilantro

Loosen the damp soil mix in a square patch in the 1st or 2nd row of your garden box. Here's how you sow the seeds:
  • poke 9 holes in the square patch (1 cm deep max)
  • put 2 to 3 seeds in each hole
  • carefully cover up the holes with soil mix.
After 5 to 10 days, you'll see your first tiny plants come up. It depends a bit on the weather.

Level 2: Cilantro seedlings

As soon as you see the first seedlings, you know things are going well. They probably won't all come up at once, but give it another few days.

Then it's time for the next level.
Zaailingen van koriander in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Cilantro seedlings

Level 3: Thinning cilantro

When several seedlings come up in each hole that you sowed, choose the best ones and remove the rest: that's called thinning out. 

It might sound harsh, but it's necessary. The cilantro needs enough room to grow. Your plants will thank you later.

If you see spots where nothing came up, sow a few more seeds.

Note: cilantro can't be transplanted, otherwise it will quickly start to flower.
Zaailingen van koriander op een gebakken eitje
You can eat the seedlings with a fried egg Foto: Lievelente

Level 4: Caring for your cilantro plants

After 3 weeks or so, your seedlings will become small plants.

At this stage, they don't need much attention. If the weather's dry, give them some water and remove the odd dead or yellow leaf. Easy 🙂

Cilantro plants grow better in cool weather than during hot summers. So, give them some shade in the summer months and keep the soil mix moist. This will also prevent them from flowering too early.

Other than that, growing cilantro is problem-free: even snails leave the plants alone.

Level 5: Picking and harvesting

About 5 - 6 weeks, the first carrots are ready to harvest.

Cut or pick the leaves. As long as you leave a centimeter of each stem, new leaves will grow from them.

That's how you keep harvesting for a long time. If the plants do bloom, try the flowers: they're edible too.
Koriander in de Makkelijke Moestuin: klaar om van te oogsten
Cilantro: ready to harvest

What do you use cilantro for?

Fresh cilantro leaves have a strong smell and a mildly sweet flavor, kind of like aniseed. Try a leaf before you cook with it.
You can use cilantro in salads and sauces, stews, chicken dishes. It's great for Indian, Moroccan, and Thai cuisine. 

You can even make dips with it.
Gooische dip: met veel verse koriander
Delicious cilantro dip

The last levels: harvesting until the plants start to flower

If you cut off just the leaves every time, and leave the center of the plant, new leaves will grow. 

Remove the plants when they start to flower. Then sow again in another square patch.
Bloeiende koriander in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Flowering cilantro

So: what's keeping you from growing cilantro yourself?

It's easy to grow, doesn't need a lot of attention, and if you love it, you can use it in a lot of different dishes.

Plus: with our app and materials, it's pretty much impossible to fail 😉

Order your cilantro seeds here or get started with a complete starter kit:
PS: Thanks to Lieve Lente, Firsttimegardener en Fimmes for their photos and posts on our Dutch community.

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