Whether you love it or hate it, cilantro is an herb that people have strong feelings about! If you’re wondering how to plant cilantro, I’m guessing that you fall into the “love it” category.
And luckily for cilantro lovers, growing your own is inexpensive, easy, and delicious! It’s one of the best ways to get more of this tasty herb in your life.
In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know to learn how to grow cilantro. From starting cilantro from seed to harvesting tips and everything in between, you’ll soon be a cilantro-growing expert!
Why You Should Learn How to Grow Cilantro
Fresh, homegrown cilantro has a fantastic flavor that can’t be matched with store-bought. Growing cilantro is surprisingly easy, even for novice gardeners.
Seeds are inexpensive and easy to find, and you don’t need any special tools or skills to grow your own cilantro.
As an added benefit, cilantro is a pest deterrent for many problematic insects in the garden. Pests like spider mites, aphids, and potato beetles don’t like the smell of cilantro, so planting it is a good way to keep those pests away!
How to Plant Cilantro
The first step in planting cilantro is to provide the right growing conditions. Cilantro isn’t too picky, which makes things easy, but there are a few things you should know. A good understanding of what cilantro needs to grow sets you up for success right from the start.
Plant cilantro in loose, well-draining soil. The ideal soil pH is between 6.2-6.8, but cilantro does well in various soil types.
If you’re unsure what pH your soil is, it’s easy to check with an at-home soil test kit.
Cilantro likes full sun. It can tolerate light shade, especially during the summer when the sun is especially strong.
Cilantro does best in cooler temperatures. It grows well in spring and fall and slows down during the hot summer.
Consistent hot weather causes cilantro to bolt.
Planting Cilantro from Seed
Starting cilantro from seed is arguably the best way to grow it! Cilantro seeds are inexpensive, easy to find, and they grow quickly. Cilantro is ready to harvest in as little as four weeks after planting.
Where to get Seeds
In the springtime, all kinds of stores start selling seeds. From garden centers and nurseries to big box stores like Walmart and even grocery stores, it seems like seeds are everywhere.
Seeds are also available online any time of the year. I love the Cilantro seeds sold by one of our favorite seed retailers, Hoss Tools because they have an extensive selection of high-quality seeds at great prices.
What Equipment do You Need?
Starting cilantro seeds can be as fancy or as simple as you like. If you have a big seed starting setup, go ahead and use it! If you don’t, not to worry. Direct-sowing cilantro doesn’t require any special equipment.
Starting cilantro indoors requires a few basic tools. At the minimum, you’ll need a container to plant in, some seed starting mix, and a sunny window. If you don’t have a sunny window, use a grow light.
Here are some of my favorite seed starting products that you may find helpful.
How to Start Cilantro Indoors
Starting cilantro indoors is a good way to get a head start on the growing season. Cilantro grows quickly, so it only needs 2-3 weeks indoors before being moved outside.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Choose a container and fill it with seed starting mix. Cilantro seeds develop long roots quickly — choose a container at least 3-4 inches deep, so the roots have plenty of room to stretch and grow.
Sprinkle a few cilantro seeds over the mix and gently cover them to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Water thoroughly. A spray bottle works great for watering freshly planted seeds. The fine mist allows you to add water gently without disturbing or displacing the seeds.
Seeds will sprout in 7-10 days. After they’ve sprouted, thin the plants to just one per container. Choose the healthiest seedling in each pot and trim the extras away using scissors.
Keep the seedlings moist and give them plenty of light.
After about two weeks, start hardening off the seedlings to get them ready to move outside.
Direct Sowing Cilantro
Since it grows so quickly, direct sowing cilantro is a great option.
Choose a sunny location to plant your seeds. Sprinkle a few seeds on the soil and gently work them in about a 1/4 inch deep. Cilantro plants should be spaced about 6-8 inches apart. Water thoroughly and wait for them to grow!
When the plants are a few inches tall, thin them to the proper spacing by cutting away extra plants at the soil level.
Keep the soil moist to help seeds germinate faster.
How to Plant Cilantro Seedlings
If you’d rather not start from seed, you can find cilantro seedlings at garden centers and nurseries during the spring.
Select an appropriate planting site and loosen the soil. Dig a hole large enough for the plant and carefully remove it from the container. Cilantro doesn’t like having its roots disturbed, so be very gentle.
Set the plant in the hole and bury it at the same depth it was in the previous container. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist for a few weeks to help the plant get established.
Growing Cilantro in Containers
Cilantro does very well in containers. Choose a container at least 18 inches in diameter and 8-10 inches deep.
Fill your containers with high-quality potting soil like Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix and plant either seeds or seedlings in the soil following the directions above. Keep the soil moist as seeds are germinating.
Caring for Cilantro
Once established, cilantro plants are easy to care for. With just a little TLC, your plants will be happy and healthy all season long.
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Cilantro needs about an inch of water each week as plants are getting established. Once they’re a few inches tall, you can reduce watering.
You can tell when the plant needs water by checking the soil. If the soil seems moist, it doesn’t need water. If the top inch is dry, add water.
Cilantro typically doesn’t need much fertilizer. If your plants need a boost, use a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer once or twice during the season. Too much fertilizer weakens the flavor of cilantro, so be careful not to overdo it.
Pests and Disease
Cilantro usually doesn’t have many problems with pests. Since many insects don’t like the smell, most bugs leave it alone!
Some common diseases you might see are powdery mildew and leaf spot. To help prevent these problems, ensure the plants have good air circulation and water at the base of the plant rather than overhead.
Cilantro has the best flavor when it’s fresh so wait to harvest until you’re ready to use the leaves. Use sharp scissors to trim a few leaves from the plant.
You can cut a lot of leaves or only a few. To keep the plant growing strong, try not to take more than 1/3 of the plant’s leaves at any given time.
Wrapping Up How to Plant Cilantro
Fresh cilantro leaves are so good that learning how to plant them is well worth it. Now that you’ve learned how to plant cilantro, you can enjoy a steady supply for all your recipes!
To learn more about starting plants from seed, check out the Seed Starting page on our website. You’ll find resources on how to grow all kinds of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. From planting guides to product recommendations and troubleshooting tips, you’ll find everything you need to start a healthy garden.
Inspired to start your own herb garden? Then learn more about planting and growing specific herbs with our guides and info posts!