People have strong feelings about cilantro: love or sheer abhorrence, with no in-between. Apparently this aversion might be linked to genetics, and many haters report that cilantro tastes like soap. Hmmm. Well, if you're not a cilantro hater, if you love it like I do and want to have a fresh supply right at your scissor-tips, here are some dos and don'ts for growing this most polarizing of herbs.
- Plant cilantro in full sun and well-drained soil. Light shade is fine for locations in the South and Southwest where the sun is intense.
- Be mindful of cilantro's growing season. The plants do well in cool weather— spring and fall in most places. When the weather gets warm, cilantro will send up tall shoots that will flower, signaling that their harvest season is over.
- Plant cilantro in its own space so it has room to re-seed.
- Stagger plantings to ensure an uninterrupted harvest.
- Remember to fertilize every four to five harvests. Feed your edible plants and they'll feed you.
- Water germinating seeds well.
- Plant twelve inches apart or thin seedlings to six inches apart, depending on what you're growing from. I personally have had the best luck growing cilantro from seeds.
- Choose slow-bolting varieties of cilantro, such as Costa Rica, Long Standing, or Leisure for the best harvests.
- Pinch back young cilantro plants to encourage bushier plants.
- Harvest more than one-third of the plants at once or you may risk weakening the plant.
- Cut off flowers right away. Let them go to seed and the plant will re-seed itself. You can also keep the seeds, which are actually what we know as coriander and are so much more flavorful when you grow your own. Once the seeds have dropped or are harvested, cut the stalk down.
- Overwater. Once the seeds are established (if you planted from seeds), the plants don't need as much water.