Cilantro is the annual herb with the original aroma and spicy taste. Its leaves are not uniform along the stem. The lower ones have petioles, and at the top, sit directly on the stem, with the shape being slightly elongated. Flowers are small and collect in an umbrella. Also, they are pink and white. The main stem of the cilantro ends with a central umbrella, from which flowering begins. Other umbrellas bloom after, blooming at the same time.
In cooking, leaves and cilantro seeds, called coriander, are used for various dishes. Cilantro is not demanding on growing conditions. It does not need special care so that the spice can be grown successfully both in the open field and on the windowsill in the apartment. On marginal lands, this crop grows weak and quickly moves to stem, and therefore it is better to start growing it in early spring when there is a lot of moisture in the soil.
Varieties of cilantro
- Avant-garde is a compact plant with small height, dense deciduous parts, and a strong spicy aroma. It can be planted in a house, on a windowsill, and balcony.
- Caribe is a well leafy, late flowering, and compact variety. It has strongly dissected greens with an intense aroma and delicate taste.
- The King of the Market is the early ripening variety, distinguished by a significant green mass, compact plants with juicy, delicate greens, and a strong spicy aroma.
- Borodinsky is a mid-season variety, compact, but tall plants, which has a mild taste, suitable for salads and decorating dishes.
- Taiga is a late-ripening variety that is compact, small, with a dense deciduous part.
- Picnic is an early variety, which has a compact bush with dense toothed leaves, an intense aroma, and a mild taste. It can be planted on a windowsill.
How to Plant Cilantro
1. Choose seed materials
This is a simple step because cilantro is not a rare spicy plant, for which their many shops to get the seeds. You can buy them everywhere, spending very little money. But it is important to remember one nuance at this stage – the production time. Cilantro is not one of those cultures that gain more strength over the years. Some plants are recommended to be planted from seeds that have been stored for three years. Always try to buy coriander as freshly packaged as possible.
2. Choose the soil
When growing cilantro, you can use loamy or sandy loam soil. The soil should be loose enough to absorb moisture well and let air through to the roots. You can buy ready-made soil for indoor plants in the store or prepare the substrate yourself from turf, sand, peat, and humus mixed in equal amounts. In terms of acidity, the soil for cilantro should be slightly alkaline or neutral. To enrich the soil with useful trace elements, add three tablespoons for 1 kg of the mixture. To disinfect the substrate, it is recommended to warm it up in the oven before planting. This will destroy all harmful microorganisms.
3. Choose the location
This is the crucial step for planting cilantro from seed. The plant loves warm areas, and in sunny places, it grows very actively with the rich color of leaves. It is best to find a southern or eastern window in the house, where more light will be during the day. If there are none, then lamps will be needed. A bright window for seedlings is one of the important conditions.
Someone will ask, is it possible to do without these conditions? It is possible, but your greenery will be frail with elongated stems and a rare green mass. You can buy lamps in many stores or order them online. At the same time, manufacturers take care of gardeners and make different mounting options, which is very convenient. Additional light sources can help you, which include:
- Fluorescent lamps –They are very often experienced summer residents use them. These sources provide good illumination, are uniform, and are not very hot. That is, tender seedlings will not get burned;
- Aquarium – Some gardeners put them, but this is far from the best option, only an extreme measure.
- Daylight may also work well, but combining them with incandescent lamps is better since sunlight gives a blue tint during operation.
- Incandescent lamps – They are expensive and should be combined with a luminescent source.
- Phytolamps – They have the most optimal color combination for growing plants.
For seedlings to grow and develop well, they need a light with red-orange rays and violet-blue. They give both good vegetations and accelerate growth. This means that you will receive your greens faster, and their quality will be better. It is also worth noting that cilantro tolerates cold well, despite its habitat in hot countries. Therefore, do not worry if your home is not as warm as needed for many cultivated plants and growing their seedlings.
Coriander is grown from seeds harvested from the plants yourself or purchased from a specialty store. Select the seeds with the correct shape, which are not damaged. Soak them in a glass of water for 2 hours. Fill the prepared container with soil and prepare holes 1–1.5 cm deep. Deepen 2-3 seeds in each of them. The distance between adjacent seeds should be about 7-10 cm.
Sprinkle the planting material with moistened soil, lightly tamping its surface with your hands. Sprinkle the earth in the pot with plenty of water so that it is entirely wet. Cover the container with foil, and then put it in a dimly lit room. Each day, the film needs to be lifted slightly to air the planted material. As the top layer of the soil dries up, it is carefully sprayed with warm water. The first green shoots appear 10-14 days after sowing. After that, remove the film.
For cilantro, a specific watering algorithm has been developed. From the moment the seeds are sown until the first leaf appears, it should be abundant. Then the intensity needs to be reduced, and the soil should be moistened moderately for 1-1.5 weeks. As soon as the period of the active growing season of cilantro begins, you can again go to abundant watering.
If it is required that cilantro seeds ripen on the bush, then at the time of their ripening, reduce the amount of moisture again. It is important not to let the soil dry out and maintain the rhythm of watering. After 15 minutes after irrigation, it is advisable to drain the excess water to avoid powdery mildew development. On hot days with increased air dryness, you need to spray the leaves with warm water.
6. Top dressing
When growing cilantro, it is necessary to fertilize the soil. The regularity of feeding is one time in 14 days. It is optimal to use complex mineral compositions and prepare the solution strictly according to the instructions. It would be best if you start feeding the sprouts after the formation of the outlet. You can replace chemical compounds with bio-complexes. In this case, it is imperative to combine any top dressing with watering. For active growth of greenery, complexes with a high nitrogen content are required. When cilantro seeds ripen, use phosphorus and potassium—applying dressings once every 2-3 weeks is quite enough.
To get lush green cilantro, you need to thin out the seedlings promptly. Sowing too dense will lead to a lack of green mass and distillation of peduncles. Plants on the windowsill will have to compete for light, water, and nutrition. The first thinning is necessary at the stage of 1-2 true leaves. For several cilantro seedlings growing nearby, one should be left with the most developed and robust. The normal development of one bush is 35 sq. meters.
This is another step to follow when planting cilantro. There should be no weeds around the plant, which reduces the intensity of the growth of greenery. This exercise also reduces the occurrence of cilantro diseases and pests.
How to Harvest Cilantro
Cilantro, like most herbs, is harvested before the plants’ bloom. The greens of flowering bushes are bitter and unsuitable for consumption. To extend the harvesting period, the inflorescences of the plants should be cut off regularly as soon as they begin to set. The spiciest cilantro greens are harvested when the plants stop growing, which means it’s time for the final harvest, as flowering will then begin. During this period, the foliage is cut and used for harvesting. It is better to cut the greens in the morning.
It is recommended to dry cilantro for storage by forming large bunches and hanging them in a dry and dark place. It is recommended to grind the spice only after complete drying. The coriander (seed) is harvested in late summer. The collection must be carried out several times within 1-2 weeks since they ripen unevenly and crumble as they mature.
Cilantro is the most popular type of green used to prepare a wide variety of dishes, which is why many gardeners grow this plant on their plots. But few know that fragrant one can be grown even in winter on a windowsill in an ordinary city apartment. This article has given the steps on how to plant cilantro. When you follow these steps, you are sure of getting a good harvest.
This has been featured by Twinkl in among their Top Tips for Starting a Kids-Friendly Vegetable Garden.