Cilantro Growing And Care Guide

Cilantro is something I have to grow in my garden every year, and I do it for free too. How? Because I harvest the seeds! Cilantro is one of those plants that are so easy to grow and propagate, I wonder why any gardener wouldn’t grow it. Plus, thrown into some fresh guacamole – you really can’t beat it. In this article, we’ll be doing a deep dive on growing this super simple herb.

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is an annual herb used in a number of dishes, like guacamole. It is part of the Apiaceae family, which contains 3,700 species, including parsley, celery, and carrots. Both cilantro the herb and coriander the seed come from the Coriandrum sativum plant. Don’t get confused! You can harvest both from this single plant. Some additional information:

  • Latin name: Coriandrum sativum L
  • Other names: Coriander, Chinese parsley
  • Native to: Europe and Asia
  • Invasiveness: Not invasive
  • Tenderness: Annual
  • Sun: Full
  • Water: 1 inch per week
  • Soil: Nutrient-rich, well-draining soil
  • Hardiness zone: 2-11
  • When to plant: After danger of frost has passed
  • Spacing: 2-8 inches
  • Plant height: 12-18 inches
  • Bloom period: May to June
  • Time to maturity: 2-3 weeks
  • Container friendly: Yes
  • Fertilizer: 21-0-0
  • Toxicity: Not toxic
  • Drought tolerant: No
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant: Yes

How to grow Cilantro

Cilantro grows up fast and is hard to mess up. It’s an annual, so if you plan to propagate and grow it next year, you’re going to want to save the seeds. It can be grown in hardiness zones 2-11 and is best planted after the danger of frost has passed.

If you’re growing this herb for the leaves, the plants only need to be spaced 2 inches apart. If you’re growing them for coriander, space them further apart – about 8 inches.

When to start seeds indoors

Cilantro is a good plant to get started indoors. It’s a cool-weather herb – by the time summer rolls around, it will be mostly finished growing. Having established cilantro plants at the ready will help you get the most out of your cilantro crop. You can directly sow cilantro seeds in the ground after the last frost has passed, but I like getting a head start.

Start seeds indoors 4 weeks before the danger of frost has passed. Cover your cilantro seeds with a quarter inch of soil and provide plenty of water. Avoid standing water and soggy soil. Your seedlings will sprout after 7-10 days. Place them in a sunny window until it’s time to plant them outdoors.

When to plant Cilantro

Cilantro seedlings are extremely tender and should only be planted outside after the last danger of frost has passed. Plant them outside too soon and you’ll risk them dying on you, which is not ideal! It is a cool season crop, so you’ll want to get it planted in the ground as soon as you possibly can. By the hot days of summer, cilantro will have mostly run its course.

You can begin your seeds indoors, or wait until your local frost date has passed and sow them outdoors. Just don’t sow seeds directly outdoors too early!

Growing in containers

Cilantro does well planted in containers, as many herbs do. They’ll thrive in a standard potting soil and would benefit from the occasional nitrogen fertilizer.

How to collect Cilantro seeds

Collecting seeds of this annual herb is incredibly easy. The plant typically begins to flower early in May. The flowers will continue until June, eventually dying off and giving way to seeds. A single seed develops from each flower, but numerous flowers grow on each plant. What I do to harvest the seeds is snip the flower cluster off at the base, then leave them in a cool, dry area to dry out. Once dry, I pluck each one from the cluster and store in an envelope.

Wildlife attracted by Cilantro

Cilantro is well loved by raccoons and squirrels alike, which isn’t ideal. What is ideal are the beneficial critters they invite to the garden, like ladybugs. Ladybugs love the stuff! If you want to attract more ladybugs to the garden to help ward off problematic aphids, plant some extra cilantro!

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!