Homesteading Family Logo
This site contains affiliate links to products we recommend. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

How to Grow Cilantro

Tacos! Can anyone eat a taco without cilantro? OK, I know that some of you have that awful gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, and I truly pity you. Homegrown cilantro enhances the flavor of your perfect taco concoction exponentially! And why stop with tacos? Cilantro, an easy herb to grow, can liven up so many foods we eat daily. 

Cilantro on a freeze dryer tray.

Learn how to grow cilantro from seed to keep, store, or eat fresh so that you can add amazing flavor to your best recipes all year long! Read on for planting and growing tips, recipe suggestions, and preservation methods. 

Why You Should Learn How to Grow Cilantro 

There’s nothing quite like stepping out the door to cut and gather herbs like dill, oregano, and basil from my old-fashioned cottage garden. Growing culinary herbs adds delight to cooking with the sights, smells, intricate flavors and a back-to-nature feel. 

I love to plant cilantro for its flavor profile that pairs with various foods, from your favorite salads made with easy homegrown lettuce to Mexican or Asian-inspired dishes. 

So, whether I am container gardening, companion planting in the vegetable garden, planting in late summer (for a fall harvest), or gardening in winter (cold-weather growing methods), cilantro remains on my list of beneficial herbs to plant.  

Cilantro growing between carrots in a row in the garden.

Cilantro Varieties

Cilantro and coriander are the same thing; well, they come from the same plant. We call the leaves cilantro, and we use them as an herb. 

Coriander comes from the seeds, which typically get ground up and are used as a spice. When selecting a variety of cilantro to plant, consider how you plan to use it. 

Leaf Cilantro

As you can guess, leaf cilantro grows the beautiful, tasty leaves that we use in our tacos, guacamole and other culinary delights. Most leaf cilantro varieties are slow to bolt. Slow-bolt cilantro takes longer to reach the flowering and seeding stage of growth. This is good because once the plant flowers, the leaves don’t taste as good.

Planting slow-bolt varieties means the plant produces more of the pungent, delicious leaves that we love to use in our recipes for longer than other varieties of cilantro. These plants grow uniformly, with full leaves and a robust flavor. Typically harvested for their leaves, but you can eat the seeds and flowers, too.

  • Leisure Cilantro – It grows in height from 12 to 24 inches, can take full sun, takes from 50 days to mature, and prefers the direct sow method. It is known for its heat tolerance and large leaves. 
  • Long-Standing Cilantro – This variety grows well both indoors and outdoors in containers or directly in the ground. As its name suggests, it is very slow to bolt. It needs full to partial sun, matures in 30 days, and grows 12 to 24 inches tall. If you plan on growing cilantro indoors, you may want to use a grow light to ensure full growth potential. 
  • Calypso Cilantro – The high-yielding, uniform Calypso Cilantro bolts the slowest of all the varieties. It takes an average of three weeks longer to bolt than Santo Cilantro. 
  • Cruiser Cilantro – Grows more sturdy, tidy, and upright with large, full, dark green leaves. These features make it more useful for bunching to sell at a farmer’s market. 
Cilantro and coriander seed on a counter.

Seed Cilantro (Coriander)

When you want to grow cilantro for the seeds (coriander), choose a variety that bolts sooner than other varieties. 

Once it bolts and goes to seed, you can collect the seeds, dry them, and use them whole or ground in your cooking. Coriander is often a key ingredient in curries and pickling recipes and is found in Thai, Middle Eastern, and Indian recipes. 

  • Santo Cilantro –  Santo Cilantro bolts an average of ten days sooner than other cilantro types.  
  • Any Variety – Any variety, when grown long enough, will flower and go to seed. 

Homesteading Hack: Ready to start using coriander before your cilantro plants have gone to seed? Farmhouse Teas is a family-owned and operated farm that has earned our trust to provide quality products. I recommend purchasing ground coriander, among many of our other favorite tea blends, dried medicinal and culinary herbs, and herb supplies from Farmhouse Teas. You can even purchase this culinary herb seed pack to get your garden started right now!

Vietnamese Cilantro

Some varieties of Vietnamese cilantro look much different than leaf cilantro with their long and slender leaves. It tastes different, too, with a stronger citrusy flavor. 

  • Bac Lieu Vietnamese Cilantro – Heat resistant and slow bolting, it boasts a citrus taste and goes well with Asian dishes. Direct sow in an area with full sun. It matures in 30 to 40 days. 
  • Rau Ram – Known as Vietnamese Coriander, Vietnamese mint, or hot mint, tastes bold, lemony, and stronger than regular cilantro. This plant thrives in full sun, moist soil, and hot and humid conditions. It grows well in containers, even hanging baskets. You can also use it for a ground cover. This cilantro tastes great in fresh spring rolls, ramen, and Southeast Asian foods. 
Cilantro being chopped on a cutting board.

Ways to Use Cilantro

This versatile herb gives the finishing flavor profile to so many dishes. Probably most known for its use in Mexican cuisine and the amazing combination of cilantro and lime (try mixing cilantro and lime juice into a pot of rice!).

Latin American Foods

Sprinkle cilantro on your tacos and squeeze fresh lime over the top for a taco bursting with flavor. You can garnish tacos, black bean enchiladas, tamales, chimichangas, nachos, arroz con pollo, or any other Latin American-inspired recipe with fresh leaves and fresh or preserved limes

Or mix it into your guacamole and homemade salsa. We love adding it to our freeze-dried avocados (+ freeze-dried guacamole) for a fresh flavor all year long. This is a great option if it looks like your cilantro is about to bolt and you won’t be able to eat it all.

Asian Foods

Cilantro and coriander make the recipe list for many Asian-inspired dishes as well. Add cilantro to Pho, fresh spring rolls, ramen, garden stir fry dishes, and sauteed noodles. This herb pairs well with basil and mint.

Curry recipes often call for coriander, as do many Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, and Egyptian recipes. Try it in chicken tikka masala or hearty ground beef curry

American Foods

If you love cilantro, it goes great on chicken, pork chops, and even on slow-cooked pot roast or on braised beef. We love it as a topping on chili, especially our easy white bean chicken chili recipe.

You can add cilantro to salads to make their taste, color, and texture more interesting. Better yet, include cilantro in your homemade vinaigrette dressing, or experiment with a variety of flavors in your lacto-fermented sauerkraut recipe

You can even liven up your sandwiches by adding fresh cilantro leaves to our easy homemade lacto-fermented mayo. The culinary possibilities are endless with cilantro, which makes it a favorable addition to any culinary herb garden. 

Cilantro growing between carrots in a row in the garden.

How to Grow Cilantro

Planting, growing, and harvesting cilantro is truly beginner-friendly, and many varieties can be grown indoors, in containers, in an herb garden, or other alternative growing methods. You could plant a salsa garden, including cilantro, in a vertical garden planter

If the culinary versatility didn’t convince you to plant cilantro in your garden, cilantro plants, with their beautiful, delicate flowers, also attract pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden. 

Planting

  • Direct Sow – Cilantro, an annual plant, generally does better with the direct sow method.
  • Garden Planning – When planning your garden, plan to plant cilantro in a location with full sun and use the succession planting method since it tends to bolt quickly and self-seeds. When you go to purchase your cilantro seeds, learn to read your seed packets when choosing the best seeds for your garden
  • Broadcast Seeds – Once you decide on a variety of cilantro to plant that best suits your needs, broadcast the seeds in a small two-foot section that gets full sun or partial shade. We do this on our 30-inch terrace garden. 
  • Soil – Plant in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. We sprinkle homemade compost that has been processed through our DIY compost sifter over the top of the seeds. Use a quality organic potting mix if you plan to plant in a pot or container.
  • Water – Water frequently until germination. We do deep water once a week, but how often you water depends on your climate. Just keep the seeds moist until germination. Cilantro needs an inch of water per week. 
  • Succession Planting – Plant again every two weeks throughout the spring, summer, and fall so that you can enjoy a continuous cilantro harvest throughout the growing season. We use the succession planting method with cilantro and plant seeds every two weeks, even into the winter, since cilantro makes the frost-hardy list. It can withstand a hard freeze with temperatures dropping as low as 28. Some fruits and vegetables do not offer the same luxury. Research crops that will not survive a frost when using the succession method.

Homesteading Hack: If you or someone you know is just getting started with a culinary herb garden, check out this Culinary Herb Garden Seed Pack from Farmhouse Teas. It has all the basic seeds you’ll need, complete with an E-book and packaged for gifting.

Growing

  • Heat – Cilantro is easy to grow. It tends to thrive in early spring and late summer, favoring cool weather. In the heat of the summer, cilantro may struggle a little (and bolt more quickly), so keep it watered.
  • Sun or Shade –  Even though intense dry heat can affect cilantro plants, they do love the sun. However, read your seed packets because some varieties of cilantro call for partial shade.
  • Water – On average, cilantro needs an inch of water per week. However, this can vary depending on how quickly that water is evaporating. We like to sow densely to keep as much water from evaporating out of the soil as possible. To water, you can either do the deep water method and thoroughly soak the cilantro once a week or keep your cilantro on a watering schedule with a timer or drip irrigation. Read about our garden watering strategies for a more detailed guide on watering your garden.
Fresh cut cilantro on a wooden counter.

Harvesting

  • Maturity – Depending on the variety of cilantro you planted, cilantro reaches full maturity between 30 and 55 days. Check on your seed packet to have an idea of when it will be fully grown. The seeds we plant take about six weeks to reach maturity. 
  • When to Harvest – As soon as you see the plant growing, start watching the leaves. You can pick cilantro as soon as the leaves are big enough to use. You may choose to grow it as a sprout or a microgreen, so it just depends on how large you want the leaves before you begin harvesting. 
  • Cutting Cilantro – Plan to cut your cilantro down before it goes to seed unless you want to harvest the seed heads for coriander. Use scissors to cut down your cilantro. If you cut it all the way down, it may not grow back. This is why we plant every two weeks. Cilantro will reseed if you let it grow through its whole life cycle. 
  • Cut-and-Come-Again Method – Or, use the cut-and-come-again method to extend the harvesting season of your cilantro. In this method, you cut small portions of the plant regularly. Start at one end of your row or container and cut a portion of the cilantro plant, leaving at least one inch of the plant and the smallest leaves. Do this repeatedly, working through the bed until you have harvested all the tops of the cilantro. By the time you finish harvesting the last portion, the spot where you began harvesting will be ready to harvest again. This method allows you to harvest cilantro from the seeds you planted, extending the growing season by staving off bolting. 
Fresh food on freeze dryer trays, ready to freeze dry.

Preserving

Many preservation methods work great for cilantro. It’s a more delicate herb, so read the suggestions below. Freeze-drying cilantro is our preferred method! 

  • Drying – Cilantro can be dried in an oven on very low heat or put in a dehydrator on the lowest setting. Learn how to dry fresh herbs by hang-drying them, drying them in the oven or dehydrating them. We tend to think that cilantro lacks flavor when dried. 
  • Preserving in Salt – Learn the two ways to preserve herbs in salt. This is a great option for cilantro. The leaves remain whole and can be stored on the counter in one method. The other method blends cilantro with salt and is kept in the refrigerator. Both methods perfectly preserve the flavor of the cilantro and make a delicious seasoning salt that you can use to flavor food (like taco meat). 
  • Freezing – Freezing delicate leafy herbs works better than you may think. We prefer blending them with a little oil and freezing them in ice cube trays. You can freeze cilantro just like you freeze basil in olive oil
  • Freeze Drying – Use a freeze dryer to preserve cilantro. Freeze-dried cilantro tastes wonderful, just like fresh cilantro! We don’t even reconstitute it; we just add freeze-dried cilantro to our dishes. But, if you want to rehydrate it, use a misting spray bottle and barely spray the leaves.

As you journey into gardening, growing cilantro and other culinary herbs offer a great first step into growing your own food. We started our journey with a small container garden while living in an apartment, and now we grow a year’s worth of food

If you are ready to take your garden to the next level, we invite you to take our free permaculture for your homestead course to learn how the permaculture approach can improve your garden homestead as it did for us. 

Overhead view of a garden.
A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

Sign Up for Updates

Get the latest homesteading tips delivered to your inbox weekly.

Popular Posts

Read by Category

Healthy Healing at Home

Free 4 video workshop on how to confidently use homemade herbal remedies!

More to Explore

Continue Reading

A jar of fermented hot sauce.

Easy Green Fermented Hot Sauce

Introducing easy green fermented hot sauce that will add a homemade, zesty kick to your meals. Get ready to ignite your taste buds with

Previous
Next

Homestead Kitchen Membership!

Join over 1,500 Homesteaders and grow together.

Become a Confident and Self-Sufficient Homesteader