How To Plant Cilantro [ Full Guide ]

Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a popular herb with a distinctive flavor commonly used in various cuisines. Growing cilantro in your garden or indoor pots allows you to have a fresh supply of this versatile herb at your fingertips. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of planting cilantro, from choosing the right location to planting the seeds and caring for the plants as they grow.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Cilantro

  1. Choose the right location: Cilantro thrives in partial shade but can also tolerate full sun in cooler climates. Ensure the location has well-draining soil.

  2. Prepare the soil: Cilantro prefers well-draining, light, and loamy soil. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost, to improve soil quality.

  3. Select and prepare seeds: Choose high-quality cilantro seeds and presoak them for better germination.

  4. Plant the seeds: Sow the cilantro seeds in the prepared soil, ensuring proper spacing and depth.

  5. Care and maintenance: Water the cilantro plants regularly, and provide mild fertilizer for healthy growth. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases.

  6. Harvesting: Harvest the cilantro leaves when they reach the desired size, and store them properly for later use.

Now, let’s delve into each of these steps in greater detail to ensure a successful cilantro planting experience.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting Cilantro

Choosing the right location is critical for the successful growth of cilantro plants. Cilantro thrives in cooler temperatures and prefers partial shade, particularly in regions with hot summers. However, it can also tolerate full sun in milder climates.

When selecting a location for planting cilantro, consider the following factors:


Cilantro prefers partial shade, especially in regions with warm temperatures. If you’re planting cilantro in an area with hot summers, providing it with some shade during the hottest part of the day can help prevent it from bolting and going to seed prematurely.


Cilantro grows best in cooler temperatures, and it tends to bolt (produce flowers and seeds) quickly in hot weather. If you live in a region with hot summers, consider planting cilantro in a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade to help regulate the temperature.

Soil Drainage

Well-draining soil is essential for cilantro plants, as they are susceptible to root rot in waterlogged conditions. Avoid planting cilantro in areas with poor drainage, and consider raised beds or containers if your soil has drainage issues.

Indoor Cultivation

If outdoor conditions are not suitable, cilantro can also be grown indoors. Choose a sunny window or use growing lights to provide sufficient light for indoor cilantro plants.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Once you’ve identified the right location, it’s time to prepare the soil for planting cilantro. Cilantro thrives in well-draining, light, and loamy soil. Here’s how to prepare the soil for optimal cilantro growth:

Soil Testing

Before planting, consider conducting a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels in your soil. Cilantro prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.2 to 6.8. If needed, you can adjust the soil pH by incorporating materials such as lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower it.

Soil Improvement

Incorporate organic matter, such as compost, into the soil to improve its texture and fertility. This not only provides essential nutrients for the cilantro plants but also enhances soil drainage and aeration.

Soil Texture

Cilantro prefers light, well-draining soil. If your soil tends to be heavy or compacted, consider adding sand or perlite to improve drainage and loosen the soil.

By taking these measures, you can create an optimal growing environment for cilantro, setting the stage for healthy and vigorous plant growth.

Seed Selection And Preparation

Selecting high-quality cilantro seeds is crucial for successful germination and plant growth. When choosing seeds, consider the following factors:

Seed Quality

Opt for fresh, high-quality cilantro seeds from a reputable supplier. Look for seeds that appear plump, firm, and free from damage or signs of mold.

Presoaking Seeds

Presoaking cilantro seeds for 24 to 48 hours before planting can improve germination rates, especially in regions with dry or compacted soil. Simply place the seeds in a bowl of water and allow them to soak for the recommended duration before planting.

Seed Spacing

To ensure adequate space for growth, plan your seed spacing accordingly. Cilantro seeds should be sown about 6 to 8 inches apart to allow ample room for each plant to develop.

Planting The Cilantro Seeds

Proper planting is essential for the successful establishment of cilantro plants. Follow these steps to plant cilantro seeds with care and precision:

Sowing Depth

Cilantro seeds should be sown at a depth of approximately 0.25 to 0.5 inches in the prepared soil. Make shallow furrows in the soil, place the seeds evenly within the furrows, and cover them lightly with soil.

Seed Spacing

Plant the cilantro seeds approximately 6 to 8 inches apart to provide sufficient room for each plant to thrive. This spacing allows the cilantro plants to access ample nutrients and sunlight as they grow.


After planting the seeds, water the soil gently to ensure that it is evenly moist. Be cautious not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to seed rot and poor germination.

Germination And Thinning

Cilantro seeds typically germinate within 7 to 10 days, depending on soil temperature and moisture levels. Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them to ensure proper spacing. Thin the seedlings to approximately 6 to 8 inches apart, allowing the strongest plants to remain while removing the weaker ones.

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Care And Maintenance Of Cilantro Plants

After planting the seeds, it’s essential to provide adequate care and maintenance to support the healthy growth of cilantro plants:


Regular, consistent watering is crucial for cilantro plants, particularly during dry periods. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, to support robust growth and flavor development in the leaves.


Cilantro is a relatively light feeder, but mild fertilization can promote healthy foliage and robust plant growth. Consider applying a balanced, organic fertilizer once the plants have become established, following the manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage and application frequency.

Pest And Disease Management

Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, which can sometimes affect cilantro plants. Implementing pest control measures, such as organic insecticidal soap or neem oil, can help mitigate pest infestations without harming the plants.


Cilantro leaves can be harvested as soon as the plants reach a height of 4 to 6 inches. Use clean garden shears or scissors to snip the leaves, and avoid stripping the plants of all their foliage to ensure ongoing growth. Harvesting regularly can also prevent the plants from bolting and going to seed prematurely.

By providing attentive care and addressing the plant’s needs, you can foster robust cilantro plants that yield an abundant supply of fresh, flavorful leaves.

Planting cilantro can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this versatile herb. By selecting the right location, preparing the soil meticulously, choosing high-quality seeds, and providing proper care, you can cultivate healthy and fragrant cilantro plants. Whether you’re growing cilantro in your garden or in indoor containers, following these guidelines can lead to a successful and satisfying cilantro planting endeavor. With attentive care and favorable growing conditions, you can look forward to a steady supply of fresh cilantro for culinary delights and culinary experimentation.

Watering And Fertilizing Cilantro Plants

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a versatile herb that adds flavor and aroma to various cuisines. It is a favorite ingredient in dishes from Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisines, making it a popular choice for home gardeners. Planting cilantro in your garden or pots is relatively easy, but it requires some special care to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest.

Proper watering and fertilization are crucial for the healthy development of cilantro plants. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Watering: Cilantro prefers moist soil but does not tolerate overwatering. It is essential to strike a balance and avoid both underwatering and waterlogging. To water cilantro correctly, follow these tips:

    • Water the plants deeply, ensuring that the moisture reaches the root zone.
    • Check the soil moisture regularly by inserting your finger up to the second knuckle. If the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time to water the plants.
    • Aim for consistent watering, especially during hot and dry periods. Inadequate moisture can cause bolting (premature flowering) in cilantro.
    • Use a watering can or a drip irrigation system to water directly at the base of the plants to avoid wetting the foliage excessively.
    • Avoid overhead watering, as wet foliage can lead to fungal diseases.
  2. Fertilizing: Cilantro plants require proper nutrition to grow vigorously and produce flavorful leaves. Follow these guidelines for fertilization:

    • Before planting cilantro, incorporate well-rotted compost or organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and drainage.
    • If the soil is deficient in nutrients, apply a balanced organic fertilizer with an NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 before sowing the seeds or transplanting seedlings.
    • Once the cilantro plants reach a height of 2-3 inches, side-dress them with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote leafy growth. Use a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 6-2-2 or similar.
    • Apply the fertilizer sparingly, following the package instructions, as excessive nitrogen can cause lush growth at the expense of flavor.

Caring For Cilantro Seedlings

Cilantro plants are usually started from seeds rather than transplants. Follow these steps to care for your cilantro seedlings:

  1. Preparing the soil: Cilantro prefers well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.2 to 6.8. Before sowing the seeds, work the soil thoroughly to remove any rocks, weeds, or other debris that can hinder germination or stunt the plants’ growth. Add compost or organic matter to enrich the soil and create a loose texture.

  2. Sowing the seeds: Cilantro seeds are small and round, resembling tiny grains of rice. Sow the seeds directly in the garden bed or pots, as cilantro does not transplant well due to its delicate root system. Follow these steps to sow cilantro seeds:

    • Create furrows or shallow trenches in the prepared soil, around ¼ inch deep and 6 inches apart.
    • Space the seeds about 1 inch apart within the furrows.
    • Gently cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or compost and lightly pat it down.
    • Water the soil immediately after sowing to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
  3. Germination and thinning: Cilantro seeds usually germinate within 7 to 10 days. To promote successful germination, maintain consistent moisture in the soil by lightly watering every day or depending on the weather conditions. Once the seedlings emerge, follow these steps for thinning:

    • Thin the cilantro seedlings when they reach a height of 2-3 inches.
    • Keep the healthiest and strongest seedlings, spacing them approximately 3-4 inches apart.
    • Carefully remove the excess seedlings by gently pulling them out of the soil, being cautious not to disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings.

Thin Out The Cilantro Seedlings

Thinning cilantro seedlings is a vital step in promoting proper airflow, preventing overcrowding, and ensuring robust growth. Here’s how to thin out your cilantro seedlings:

  1. Determining the right time: Wait until the cilantro seedlings reach a height of 2-3 inches before thinning them out. At this stage, they are strong enough to survive the process.

  2. Identifying the strongest seedlings: Look for seedlings that appear healthy, sturdy, and have multiple sets of well-developed leaves. These are the ones you should keep.

  3. Spacing the seedlings: Leave a gap of approximately 3-4 inches between the seedlings you choose to keep. Adequate spacing allows for better air circulation, reduces the risk of diseases, and provides sufficient room for the plants to grow.

  4. Removing excess seedlings: Gently lift the unwanted seedlings out of the soil, taking care not to disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings. It is easier to thin out the seedlings on a cloudy day or in the early evening when the temperatures are cooler.

  5. Transplanting the removed seedlings: If you feel reluctant to discard the excess seedlings, you can try transplanting them into other containers or garden areas. However, bear in mind that cilantro doesn’t handle transplanting well, so success rates may vary.

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Mulching And Weeding

Mulching and weeding play essential roles in the care of cilantro plants. Proper mulching aids in moisture retention and prevents weed growth, ensuring the health and productivity of the plants. Follow these steps for effective mulching and weeding:

  1. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the cilantro plants to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a more consistent soil temperature. Here’s how to mulch cilantro properly:

    • Wait until the cilantro seedlings have grown a few inches tall, as mulching too early can hinder their growth.
    • Choose organic mulch, such as straw, dried leaves, or grass clippings.
    • Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plants, ensuring it extends a few inches from the stems to prevent moisture-related diseases.
    • Avoid mulching too thickly, as excessive mulch can create a breeding ground for pests and prevent air circulation.
  2. Weeding: Regular weeding is crucial to eliminate competition for nutrients and resources between cilantro plants and weeds. Follow these tips for effective weed control:

    • Hand-pull weeds around the cilantro plants, being careful to remove them along with their roots to prevent regrowth.
    • Be vigilant in identifying and removing weeds promptly, particularly during the early growth stages of cilantro when it is vulnerable to competition.
    • Avoid using herbicides near cilantro, as the herbicide residue can potentially affect the flavor and safety of the harvested leaves.

Planting and caring for cilantro can be a rewarding experience for home gardeners. By following the correct watering and fertilization practices, nurturing seedlings, thinning them out, and implementing proper mulching and weeding techniques, you can ensure healthy cilantro plants and an abundant harvest of flavorful leaves. Remember to give cilantro the attention it needs, and soon you’ll have a bountiful supply of this versatile herb right at your fingertips.

Harvesting Cilantro

Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a versatile and aromatic herb commonly used in various culinary dishes around the world. It adds a refreshing and tangy flavor to salsas, soups, salads, and many other recipes. Growing cilantro in your garden or even in containers can be a rewarding experience, as it allows you to have a fresh supply of this herb at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Before we dive into the planting process, it’s important to understand when and how to harvest cilantro. Cilantro leaves are best harvested when they are young and tender, as they carry the most intense flavor. Once the plants start to flower, the leaves become less flavorful and may even develop a bitter taste.

To harvest cilantro leaves, start by cutting the outer leaves from the plant, leaving the central growing point intact. This allows the plant to continue producing new foliage. You can use scissors or gardening shears to make clean cuts, ensuring that you don’t damage the rest of the plant.

If you want to harvest the entire plant, including the roots, you can wait until the plants reach their mature stage, which is usually about 60 days after planting. At this point, the plants will have developed a small taproot system that can be lifted out of the ground easily.

Storing And Preserving Cilantro

Cilantro is best enjoyed when it is fresh and vibrant, but it can be challenging to use an entire bunch of cilantro before it starts to wilt. Fortunately, there are several methods for storing and preserving cilantro to extend its shelf life.

One simple method is to place the freshly harvested cilantro stems in a glass of water, similar to a bouquet of flowers. This helps keep the leaves hydrated and prolongs their freshness. Cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. Change the water every couple of days to prevent bacterial growth.

Another popular method is freezing cilantro. Start by washing the leaves thoroughly and patting them dry. Chop the leaves finely and place them in ice cube trays. Fill each compartment with water and freeze until solid. Once the cilantro ice cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container. These cilantro cubes can be added directly to dishes while cooking, allowing you to enjoy the flavor of cilantro even during the off-season.

Cilantro can also be dried for longer storage. Tie the harvested cilantro stems together with twine or string and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. It may take several weeks for the leaves to dry completely. Once dried, crumble the leaves into a jar or airtight container. Dried cilantro can be used in various recipes or to make flavorful teas.

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Common Cilantro Growing Problems And Solutions

Like any other plant, cilantro is susceptible to certain issues that can hinder its growth and development. Here are some common problems you may encounter when growing cilantro and ways to address them:

1. Bolting: Bolting refers to the premature flowering of cilantro plants, which can significantly reduce the quality and quantity of the leaves. Bolting is often caused by high temperatures and longer daylight hours. To prevent bolting, choose cilantro varieties that are known for their bolt resistance, such as "Slow Bolt" or " Santo." Additionally, providing shade during the hottest part of the day or planting cilantro in partial shade can help mitigate the effects of high temperature.

2. Pests: Cilantro plants are occasionally targeted by pests such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation, such as yellowing leaves, tiny webs, or distorted growth. To control pests, you can use organic insecticidal soaps, neem oil, or introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings that feed on pests. It’s important to follow the instructions on the product labels and take precautions not to harm beneficial insects or contaminate the cilantro leaves.

3. Diseases: Cilantro can be affected by certain diseases, including powdery mildew, downy mildew, and bacterial leaf spot. These diseases can cause leaf discoloration, wilting, and even plant death. To prevent disease, ensure proper air circulation around the plants by spacing them adequately. Avoid overhead watering, as moisture on the leaves can promote fungal growth. If you notice signs of disease, remove infected plants promptly to prevent the spread to healthy ones. Fungicides labeled for use on cilantro can also be used as a preventive measure.

4. Weeds: Weeds can compete with cilantro for nutrients, sunlight, and water. To keep weeds at bay, mulch around the cilantro plants with organic materials such as straw or wood chips. Mulching helps suppress weed growth and also retains soil moisture. Regularly hand-pull any weeds that manage to sprout.

Tips For Growing Cilantro In Containers

If you don’t have a large garden or prefer to grow cilantro in a controlled environment, containers are a great alternative. Here are some tips to help you successfully grow cilantro in containers:

1. Container selection: Choose a container that is at least 6-8 inches deep to allow for healthy root development. The container should also have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

2. Soil mixture: Use a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. Cilantro prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.2 to 6.8.

3. Sunlight: Place the containers in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Cilantro grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate some partial shade, especially during hot summer months.

4. Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Container-grown cilantro may require more frequent watering compared to plants grown in the ground. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

5. Fertilization: Cilantro plants in containers benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to excessive leaf growth and reduced flavor.

6. Harvesting and pruning: As mentioned earlier, harvest cilantro leaves regularly to promote new growth and prevent premature flowering. Pinch or trim the outer leaves to encourage bushier growth.

7. Succession planting: Cilantro plants have a relatively short lifespan, especially in hot climates. To ensure a continuous supply of cilantro, consider planting new seeds every few weeks. This will allow you to harvest fresh cilantro while the older plants start to bolt.


Growing cilantro is a wonderful way to add freshness and flavor to your culinary creations. Whether you have a dedicated garden bed or limited space for containers, cilantro can thrive and provide you with a bountiful harvest. From planting the seeds to harvesting the leaves, and from storing cilantro to combating common issues, this comprehensive guide has covered all the necessary steps and tips to help you successfully grow cilantro. So why not embark on this herb-growing adventure and enjoy the delights of homegrown cilantro in your next dish?


How Much Sunlight Does Cilantro Need To Grow?

Cilantro thrives in full sun, but it can also grow in partial shade. Aim for at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Cilantro?

Cilantro is best planted in the early spring or fall, when temperatures are cooler. This herb does not do well in summer heat.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Cilantro?

Cilantro prefers well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.2-6.8. Adding organic matter, such as compost, can help improve the soil’s quality.

How Often Should I Water Cilantro?

Cilantro needs consistent moisture, but not overly saturated soil. Water regularly, about 1 inch per week, and avoid letting the soil dry out completely.

Can I Plant Cilantro In Containers?

Yes, cilantro can be easily grown in containers. Make sure the container has good drainage and use a potting mix specifically designed for herbs.