Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander is a dainty annual that grows to about 2 feet tall with finely divided leaves. Harvested leaves (cilantro) have a distinct, strong aroma and harvested, mature seeds (coriander) are used in cooking and baking. Flowers are white or pale purple that appear in small, flat heads.
Coriander/Cilantro is easily grown from seed in average garden soil. Plant so that it is shaded by other plants or in a spot where it will receive light, afternoon shade. Plants will bolt (flower and go to seed) in hot, humid weather but will self-seed if left to mature in your garden. Another approach for a season-long supply of fresh leaves is to sow seeds in succession, planting every 2-3 weeks. Thin plants 7 to 10” apart. Can also be successfully grown in containers.
Harvest plants when 6” high or pick leaves sparingly when plants are 4-6” tall. Pinching off the flower stems will extend the harvesting of leaves. But, if coriander seeds are desired, allow plants to flower, wait until the flower heads turn brown, and gather seeds as they ripen in mid-summer. Seeds need to be mature for them to be used for culinary purposes.
Cilantro is used fresh in Mexican and Asian cuisine and added to salads. Coriander seeds have a delicious perfumed taste and fragrance and are used in cooking and baking.