Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), also known as coriander, is an annual herb native to parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Its leaves and seeds are commonly used as a culinary herb and spice all over the world. As well as adding intense and refreshing lemony-like flavour to cuisine, cilantro has many added health benefits helping us to detoxify heavy metals from the body, ease inflammation, boost immunity, and regulate cholesterol.
Cilantro is easy to grow from seed, enjoys part sun to full sun, good drainage and deep fertile soil. It prefers it a little on the dry-side but regular even waterings are recommended to encourage consistent leaf growth. It does best when direct seeded in the garden as it does not like to be transplanted, as this can cause it to ‘bolt’ or go to seed prematurely. The leaves can be harvested as soon as the plants are about 4” high. The seed heads can be collected as they ripen and dried in paper bags for use as the delightfully fragrant coriander spice.
Cilantro is short-lived and will often begin to flower and set seed after a few weeks of harvesting. To keep a good supply of fresh green leaves available it the garden, repeat sowings are needed. It can be sown several times throughout the season, as early as the first week of April all through summer until the end of August. It does best when grown as a cool season crop, and will produce more abundant leaf growth if given a cooler spot during the hot summer months. In zone 7 and warmer cilantro can be sown in September for a leafy crop that will overwinter and become quite prolific in the early months of spring.