Cilantro needs full sun or light shade in southern zones since it bolts quickly in hot weather. It grows best in a well-drained, moist soil. Cilantro plants should be spaced about 6 to 8 inches apart. To harvest fresh cilantro all season, make successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks starting in late spring.
Since cilantro grows so quickly, it can also be sown again in the fall in warmer zones. For a steady supply of fresh leaves all summer, make successive sowings of cilantro seed every 2 to 3 weeks beginning in the spring.
From the time of sowing seed, cilantro leaves can begin to be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks. Cilantro seeds can be harvested in about 45 days.
Cilantro vs Coriander
Throughout most of North America, the stalks and leaves of the Coriandum Sativum plant are known as cilantro and the plant’s dried seeds are called coriander. However, in different parts of the world, the plant is known as coriander & seeds called coriander seeds.
Tips for Growing Cilantro
Cilantro is best grown by directly sowing seed in the garden for two reasons. It grows so quickly it needs no head start indoors, and since cilantro develops a taproot, it doesn’t like being transplanted.
However, if you can’t wait to harvest some fresh cilantro leaves in late spring, about 2 weeks before the average last frost date start cilantro indoors in peat pots that can be directly transplanted into the garden. Seeds germinate in about 7 to 10 days.
When growing cilantro, the aim is to maximize foliage. Pinch back young cilantro plants an inch or so to encourage fuller, bushier plants. Snip off the top part of the main stem as soon as it appears to be developing flower buds or seedpods. Cutting off the flower heads redirects the cilantro plants’ energy back into leaf, and not flower or seed production.
Watch the plants carefully as the weather gets hotter. Cilantro has a short life cycle and bolts quickly (develops seed) in hot weather. Once cilantro sets seeds, the plant quickly starts to degrade.
If seeds are allowed to develop, you’ll notice how easily cilantro self-sows when you see delicate, lacy-leaf seedlings growing up around mature plants.