Cilantro might be the ultimate “love it or hate it” herb, with a lemony-peppery flavor that registers for some people as “soap,” but which has also made cilantro a staple of Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Our featured cilantro variety: Slow Bolting Seed

Cilantro Uses

Cilantro Uses

Cilantro is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley (cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander). In the U.S. ‘cilantro’ refers to the leaves and plant; coriander refers to the seed used as a culinary herb.

Though it doesn’t directly repel insect pests in the garden the way, say, basil does, cilantro attracts beneficial insects that can keep the destructive ones at bay. These beneficial insects tend to lay eggs on garden plants; the hatched larvae will feed on insect pests.

Cilantro is reported to be a good digestive aid. Of course, like all plant food, it contains fiber which aids digestion, but, supposedly, it also has properties that can prevent other gastrointestinal problems like bloating and heartburn.

Interesting Facts About Cilantro Plants

Fact 1
Cilantro—Coriandrum sativum—is native to Iran but has long grown wild through southern Europe and western Asia. There is evidence that cilantro has been consumed for thousands of years. Apparently, ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed coriander seeds to be an aphrodisiac which explains why the seeds were placed in Egyptians tombs: they were a symbol of eternal love and passion.
Fact 2
Cilantro is a member of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family which also includes celery and carrots, as well as parsley, dill, and other well-known herbs. Cilantro can be preserved through freezing but not drying which will cause it to lose its distinctive flavor.
Fact 3
In spite of the fact that cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, they don’t taste the same. Coriander has a light, floral, lemony taste that’s somewhat similar to cardamom while cilantro’s taste is more peppery. For 4-14% of the population with a particular olfactory gene set, cilantro tastes like soap, which explains why some people seem to vehemently hate cilantro. That’s right—your sister, boyfriend [fill in the blank]—were not being dramatic—they actually taste soap. The reason for that is they’re particularly sensitive to the smell of aldehyde chemicals which are found in BOTH cilantro and soap.

Cilantro Gardening Tips

Difficulty
Difficulty

Moderately-easy, depending on your climate (cool weather is better).

Sun
Sun

Full sun or partial shade in southern zones.

Water
Water

Cilantro seeds need plenty of water to germinate.

Soil
Soil

Well-drained, enriched soil 45°– 75° F. warmer is better.

Air
Air

Cilantro grows well in the cool temperatures of early spring.

Timing
Timing

Direct sow cilantro seeds in the outdoor garden after the threat of frost has passed.

Planting
Planting

Plant seeds ¼ inches deep, tamp down soil and gently sprinkle with water. Thin and space according to seed packet instructions.

Germination
Germination

7—10 days.

Time to Harvest
Time to Harvest

You can start harvesting leaves 3-4 weeks after sowing the seeds.

Feeding
Feeding

Cilantro grows quickly in enriched soil and doesn’t need additional feeding.

Mulch
Mulch

Add mulch as the seedlings develop to retain moisture and discourage weeds.

Pests & Diseases
Pests & Diseases

Cilantro is susceptible to aphids and whiteflies, as well as wilt and mildew.

Special Considerations
Special Considerations

As noted above, cilantro bolts in hot weather. You can forestall this by planting it where it will get early morning or late afternoon soon and by pruning it frequently.

Companion Plants
Companion Plants

As noted above, cilantro is a helpful companion to a number of garden plants as it attracts beneficial insects that feed on insect pests. It shouldn’t be planted with fennel.

Container-Friendly
Container-Friendly

Yes! Cilantro, with its bushy foliage (assuming you prune it frequently), complements other container plants nicely.

USDA Zones Note
USDA Zones Note

In zones 8, 9, and 10, fall is the best time to plant cilantro. It will last until the weather heats up in spring.

Harvesting Cilantro

Harvesting CilantroTo harvest cilantro, snip the leafy stems close to ground level. Harvest foliage continuously until it bolts in the hot weather.

Growing Cilantro—Highlights

  • Savory, distinctive-tasting Cilantro has long been a key ingredient in Asian and Mexican cuisine; its popularity in a wide variety of dishes has soared in recent years.
  • Some people seem to hate cilantro and claim it tastes like soap. They are not imagining it.
  • Cilantro is not difficult to grow from seed but gardeners should be aware that while it likes sun, it doesn’t like hot weather which makes it bolt.
  • The best way to ensure a steady supply of cilantro on hand is to plant new seeds successively.
  • Cilantro is a good source of fiber and potassium.

Here at Bentley Seeds, we want to set you up for success. Our growing guides are designed to give you all the information you'll need to start growing from seed, in an easy-to-digest format.

We also encourage you to print out a copy as a handy reference in your garden.