How To Grow Cilantro Indoors – Top Tips Direct From Growers!
Fast-growing and easy to care for, Coriandrum sativum or most commonly known as cilantro is the best herb to grow if you’re an aspiring green thumb without a backyard or garden. So without further ado, here’s how you can grow cilantro right inside your home.
What You’ll Need
- Cilantro seeds
- A flower pot or container
- Soil or potting mix
- An area with plenty of sunlight or a grow light
- Scissors or shears for harvesting
6 Steps To Growing Cilantro Indoors
Don’t be intimated. You can grow cilantro indoors! All it takes is 6 easy steps and you can grow cilantro and have fresh cilantro leaves right in your kitchen.
1. Choose A Container
Cilantro, which is in the same taproot family as carrots, requires a container that is at least 8-12 inches deep for its roots to grow. You can use any container that you like however there should be a drainage hole. (1)
Most containers are suitable for growing interior plants if there is a drainage hole in the bottom of the container. This opening will provide proper drainage for excess water…
Since cilantro plants produce a lot of foliage, you should also grow cilantro in a container that is at least 18 inches wide. An overcrowded cilantro plant can lead to poor air circulation, growth problems, and even premature bolting.
2. Add Soil Or Potting Mix
Now that you have a container with a drainage hole, the next step is to fill the container until it’s a couple of inches below the rim.
Whatever you do, do not just go outside and get dirt from the ground. It can be contaminated with bugs and weeds that will kill your cilantro and cause a pest problem in your house. Yuck! Even when you are growing cilantro indoors, you should still use well-drained soil with a ph level of 6.5 (2)
Garden growing conditions for cilantro are very similar to almost all other vegetables and herbs. A soil that is light and well-drained with a generous amount of organic matter is beneficial.
When you are growing cilantro or other herbs and plants indoors, you can always use an indoor potting mix. However, mixtures or blends can vary from one brand to another. Some can have better water-holding capacity while others can cause drainage problems. Ask your local farmer’s market for indoor potting soil recommendations.
3. Plant Cilantro Seeds
You can now sow the seeds. Plant each cilantro seed ¼-inch into the soil and 6 inches apart from each other. Then, cover the seeds. To settle the seeds to the soil, grab a spray bottle and lightly mist the post. Spray the container until the potting soil is wet or damp to the touch.
Dried coriander seeds sold in supermarkets are only for seasoning. They will not sprout or grow.
Cilantro seeds use the name “coriander seeds” sometimes. So, if you’re having a hard time finding cilantro seeds, ask for coriander. But make sure it’s not in the cooking aisle because the seasoning has been treated and will no longer be able to grow plants.
4. Add Light to Cilantro Indoors
If you are growing cilantro from seeds, the ideal cilantro germination temperature is around 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit or 13-24 degrees Celsius. Keep them around this temp until they sprout.
At this point, the cilantro growing temperature is under 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius and can tolerate temperatures just above freezing. This is ideal if you’re using a window or a grow light.
A grow light can come in handy when you are in a milder climate or if your windows don’t get sunlight at all.
A cilantro plant grows in full sun but doesn’t like direct sunlight. Aim for early-afternoon and morning sunlight if your windows get direct sunlight. Make sure that the plant receives full sun for about 6 hours per day. If you are living in hot climate areas, you should keep the plant in a partial shade.
The video below shows the benefits of grow lights. You can get an expensive one or just a basic one for cilantro.
5. Water The Plant
Just like many herbs, cilantro needs water. This annual herb loves consistently moist soil but hates being waterlogged. Too much water can halt or stunt growth and cause root rot which is as gross as it sounds – you don’t want that! But on the other hand, not giving the seeds enough water is bad too. For seeds to start germination, they need enough water (3).
One way to prevent overwatering or underwatering is by inspecting the soil first. You can put your finger in the soil, about two inches away from the seeds or plant. If the soil is still damp, you don’t need to water the plant. But if it is already dry, you can water the cilantro. Keep in mind that well-drained and moist oil should not be sopping wet.
6. Harvest The Cilantro Leaves
Once the cilantro starts to grow a bud, cut that thing off quickly unless you want coriander seeds and coriander-tasting leaves! Cutting the bud also makes them grow more leaves and become fuller in appearance. To harvest, take scissors or shears and cut the top third of the plant. Be sure that the bottom two-thirds have leaves.
You should be able to harvest once a week. Then you can cook them immediately or freeze them for later. They can last in the freezer for six months.
PRO TIP: Do not dry out cilantro, as it loses most of its flavor when dried.
Getting started with growing your own food when you don’t have much outdoor space may seem like a daunting task, but starting with something easy like cilantro can ease you into filling your home with fresh food in no time.
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Cilantro seeds can take 7-10 days to germinate after being planted. In 3-4 weeks you will have fresh leaves to harvest. If you want to have a head start, you can soak cilantro or coriander seeds in a shallow water container for at least 12 hours. The quick soak can encourage them to sprout before you sow them. In other cases, you can place the soaked seeds in a ziplock and leave them outside for a day or two, and then add a handful of potting soil to the bag. Once they are sprouting, you can move and plant them in the intended pot.
Yes, cilantro will grow back after cutting. Whenever you want fresh cilantro leaves, simply cut the top and outermost leaves. When harvesting cilantro, don’t pull the stems! You can damage the plant. If you need more cilantro, you can cut several stems from the soil line. Fully-grown cilantro plants have stems 6 to 12 inches in length.
You can keep cilantro growing in the summer by keeping the plant in a shaded area. If the temperature is too hot, you can grow cilantro indoors, away from direct sunlight. You can also reduce its sun exposure from 6 hours to at least 3 hours per day. Don’t forget to increase water too since the hot temperature can quickly dry out the soil. You can add mulch around the base of the container to lock in the moisture in the soil, and prevent drying.
No, cilantro is not hard to grow. However, gardeners can make simple mistakes that prevent cilantro plants from growing or reaching their full maturity. One of the most common errors is planting the seeds too deep. Ideally, you should sow the seed ¼-inch in the soil. Anything more than the recommended depth will make it difficult for the cilantro seed to sprout. Wrong seed spacing can also prevent the seed from growing. Keep the seeds 6 inches apart so they will have more room to grow while avoiding overcrowding.
- Care And Selection Of Indoor Plants. Retrieved from: https://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/P1012_web.pdf
- The Short, Sweet Life Of Cilantro. Retrieved from: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_short_sweet_life_of_cilantro
- Just Add Water? Weird Ways Plants Germinate. Retrieved from: https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/plant-germination
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.