Learning how to grow cilantro from seeds is an excellent way to enjoy this herb regularly. Cilantro is known to have an intense peppery flavor, a tangy aroma, and is used most frequently in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. It is also popular in other cuisines, as well as in Italian, Greek, and French cooking. If you’ve ever tasted the tender leaves of fresh cilantro, then you’ll know that they are some of the tastiest leaves you can eat.
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The History of Cilantro
Cilantro is a versatile herb, meaning it can be added to a variety of dishes. The history dates back to the Aztecs of South and Central America who used the herb as a digestive aid. The Latin name for cilantro is Culvina Ruticana, which means curly leaf.
The curly leaf has a unique flavor that is tangy, spicy, and pungent. The ancient Aztec version of cilantro was used in many recipes including salads, stews, and even was served on tables as a food to eat with tortilla chips.
Medicinal Uses of Cilantro are numerous and varied. In Chinese medicine, the leaves are used to treat stomach issues like indigestion, acid dyspepsia, and flatulence. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and relieve coughs, sore throats, and bronchitis.
In Ayurveda, the leaves of the plant are used to treat several respiratory problems, like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, coughing, colds, flu, and phlegm. In Indian home remedies, cilantro is considered a powerful and revitalizing balm for kidney complaints like jaundice, yellow discolorations, and backache. It is also effective against digestive disorders like nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.
When growing cilantro from seed, the best time to plant is during the spring, for optimal growing conditions. You can plant your seedlings in three different methods, all of which are popular among people who grow their own herbs. The first involves putting the seedlings into large pots filled about two to three inches deep with either sand perlite or vermiculite.
The other method, called tube planting, involves putting the seedlings into a tight-fitting plastic tube about four inches high and four inches wide. Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that the taller plants will dominate the smaller ones.
It is important to keep your germinating cilantro seeds moist until they germinate fully. Mist the pots every day with water. However, it’s not recommended to over-wet the soil, as the roots will soak up most of the water.
Selecting a Pot or Planter
A small pot is perfect for starting off small plants as it allows you to control the amount of water your plants will need during their first few months of growth. If you use a larger pot, you may find your plant crowding out other competing varieties of herbs that are grown in the same or smaller pot.
If you are just starting off with a small pot, you can always transfer the plants to a larger pot later on down the road. Personally I like growing cilantro in a large 10″ inch pot will also give you a better chance of having more than one variety of cilantro. Plus you eliminate the risk of screwing up with transplanting. Whenever I grow cilantro I like to use this Classic Garden Planter combined with a premium soil from FoxFarm.
Soil Needed to Grow Cilantro
Choosing soil for your cilantro herb plants is one of the most important steps in growing your favorite herb. This annual herb can be found in a wide variety of locations and will grow well no matter what type of soil you are working with. It will grow best in rich, slightly moist soil that has had time to break down while being turned, especially in the south.
Because it is generally an annual plant, it will do best in the spring. It will grow easily throughout all parts of the United States except for areas that are normally colder. If you are growing your own herbs, choosing the right soil is extremely important, since it is the basis for the health of your plants.
Often, gardeners are tempted to use the soil that is in their own gardens, but this is not a good practice. Most commercial bags and mixes are sterile and are not ideal for cilantro. Instead, you should work with natural compost or a blend of kitchen scraps and grass clippings in order to create an environment that will help your cilantro grow.
Cilantro does not like heavy, clay-based soil, so if you are growing cilantro from seed, you should look for a mix that will allow it to develop properly in full sun, but will also retain moisture. You should also make sure that the mixture you are growing has had ample time to break down.
Many people choose to add peat moss to the soil as a growth medium for cilantro. While it can help the plant to keep roots healthy, this substance can also prevent new leaves from growing properly as well, which will affect the flavor of the final product. Working with the right soil for growing cilantro will ensure that it blooms and produces the maximum amount of tasty leaves.
Cilantro should be watered only once a week, no more, no less. Too much water will cause the roots to wilt, and not enough water will stunt your plant’s growth and can even make it unsafe to eat. You can see how this simple step can make such a difference in your cilantro growing experience.
There are different times of year when you should water your cilantro, too. The best time to water is in the morning, while the soil is still damp. You should also not wait to long between watering as it will make the plant go yellow.
Cilantro will need about 7 – 8 hours of sunlight every single day. Sunlight is critical for all plants, but when it comes to growing cilantro, this is especially true.
Remember to keep your cilantro away from areas where they might get too much sun. Too much sun can stunt the growth of your cilantro, as well as make it yellow instead of green.
If you are going to be growing Cilantro you will need to use a fertilizing system. One of the best fertiizers to use is fish emulsion.
A fish emulsion combines calcium, iron, and phosphorous, along with other minerals that your Cilantro needs to grow. Make sure that the fertilizer also contains Potassium, Phosphorous, and Magnesium.
You will want to fertilize with an all-purpose complete 10-10-10 fertilizer every two weeks after plants get approximately 3 inches tall.
If you want it to grow into a robust plant you will need to prune them. Pruning your cilantro plants will help make sure they stay healthy and strong. Here are a few tips on how to prune your cilantro plants without damaging them.
There are two ways that are used to cut back the height of the plant. You can either use scissors or your fingers.
To use scissors, cut the stem so that it just barely touches the ground between the leaves. Do not cut the stem any deeper than this, since the cilantro plant will actually grow back fuller and stronger after the new growth is removed.
Your fingers will have a tendency to work the better instead of the pruning shears, so you may want to use the latter style. Both styles are very effective at pruning the leaves and stems of your cilantro.
Harvesting cilantro is a snap. Harvesting means that your mature plants are ready for you to pick up what’s ready to use the herbs for cooking or add to your daily garnish. You can usually harvest your mature plants easily with no special procedures should be needed to get them out of the garden.
However, you might notice that some of your mature cilantro has developed a lot of green leaves. This is actually a good thing as this indicates that the plant has produced new leaves and has been able to keep them off of the stems so that you can easily pick off the green leaves.
Harvesting cilantro with a sharp knife cut across the top of the plant helps make sure that only the heart-shaped part of the leaf is picked off to ensure you don’t end up with mushy green leaves and stems. If you have very big and thick stemmed plants you might need to use a sharp knife or a pair of shears to help you cut through the thick stems.
After cutting the plant from the stem you can carefully remove the seeds and dig around inside of the soil to help keep the plant from getting waterlogged. Harvesting cilantro usually only takes a few minutes but you want to make sure that you get all of the plant’s leaves and buds.
After removing the green foliage you can hang it to dry. You can then remove the remaining leaves and buds from the garden after you dry them. After you’ve completely dried the plant you can store it in an airtight container or put it in your freezer for up to a month before use.
Cilantro leaves are crunchy and spiky, while the stem of the plant is a bright green color with a thin, lemon-like ray that adds flavor. When freshly grated, cilantro is crunchy like cucumbers, but when the leaves are simmered with other ingredients in a blender, it becomes a nutritious, tasty side dish.
Coriander seeds can be used sparingly to add depth to soups and stews. When these seeds are grilled, they release a smokey flavor that some find quite delicious. Some Mexican cuisine actually originates from using coriander seeds to make black beans.
Today, cilantro is a popular herb, especially in Mexican and Latin American cuisine. The colorful fronds of this herb add an interesting flair to any dish, and the delicate leaves are used in salads, wraps, tacos and more.
Cilantro is a mild-flavored herb with a wide variety of health benefits. It contains a variety of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that contribute to your overall digestive health. These include but are not limited to vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, potassium, and calcium.
Some of the most important antioxidants in cilantro are hesperidin and quercetin, which work together to help prevent oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress is known to contribute to a number of digestive disorders from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to cancer.
Quercetin and hesperidin have been shown to inhibit free radical activity, which helps to reduce the risk of these disorders. Some of the other important antioxidants in cilantro are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both powerful antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory benefits and can help to prevent atherosclerosis.
The health benefits of are further highlighted when you consider its ability to lower LDL or bad cholesterol. This is important because a diet low in antioxidants has been identified as one of the possible causes of heart disease. Oxidative stress is believed to play a role in atherosclerosis, which is why eating foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants may be helpful in preventing this disease.
Raw leafy greens such as cilantro and dill are an excellent source of antioxidants, and the high concentration of these antioxidants in raw leaves makes them highly beneficial as a digestive aid. Your digestive health will benefit from a healthy combination of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.