Updated October 19, 2021 by Mark Marino
More polarizing than parsley but more popular than mint (well, it should be), cilantro is a culinary stable, an herb of delectable goodness–unless you’re one of those unfortunate individuals who finds that fresh cilantro, also known as coriander and Chinese parsley, tastes like soap. However, where would salsa, chili verde, and assorted banh mi sandwiches be without it?
If you enjoy the refreshing flavor of the cilantro plant, not to mention its robust nutritional profile, you can ensure yourself a steady supply of this annual herb by growing cilantro indoors. With a bright windowsill and some basic planting supplies, you can easily grow cilantro from seed or cilantro seedlings, which are available inexpensively from your local garden center. Here, we’ll explore how to grow the cilantro indoors so your herbs thrive and you can add fresh cilantro leaves to your favorite recipes whenever you need them.
Growing Cilantro Plants
For many, growing cilantro plants rather than from seed is an easier option because there’s no need to worry about seed germination. With a cilantro seedling, the main priority is simply to maintain the plant’s good health as it grows to maturity. The cilantroplant has a short growing cycle, even when grown from seed. To achieve fuller plants with more cilantro leaves for culinary use, be sure to pinch back the young plants about an inch as soon as they develop flower buds and seed heads. By sniping the flowers, you can ensure that nutrients go into leaf production rather than flower and seed development.
Planting Cilantro Seeds
Growing herbs from seeds can be trickier in some cases than using seedlings, but cilantro is one of the easier herbs to grow from seed because it develops a taproot quickly; that taproot, as it happens, doesn’t actually enjoy being transplanted. So, you may find that it’s actually easy to grow cilantro from seed once you get the hang of it.
Plant cilantro seeds in your commercial potting mix in a cilantro seed tray or your chosen container. Cilantro prefers a temperature of about 70 degrees, so an indoor environment is ideal for supporting seed germination and plant growth. When grown outdoors, cilantro plants may struggle more, especially in summertime’s intense heat.
Pots & Potting Soil
Clay or plastic pots are ideal for growing cilantro indoors because they’ll help keep your soil moist. Deep containers are best for cilantro plants because of the long taproot they develop. No matter what container you choose, be sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage.
The best potting mix for cilantro seeds is a mix of peat moss and coconut coir. However, you can use your backyard garden soil providing you amend it with some organic material such as compost to ensure the plants have the rich nutrients they need.
Cilantro prefers its soil to be moist but not waterlogged. So, be sure that you plant seeds or seedlings in containers with well drained soil. In addition to using containers with bottom holes, you can also add a layer of gravel or pebbles to your containers to promote optimum drainage. Be sure to keep your soil moist even with just a bit of misting after a long day in your sunlit window. Check your soil surface by touching it; it should feel damp but not soaking wet.
To achieve maximum growth, sow seeds in full sun. Your cilantro plants should be exposed to plenty of sunlight daily. Ideally, treat them to six to eight hours of direct sunlight. If you’re concerned that your window won’t suffice for your cilantro’s sunshine needs, you can rely on a 45-watt grow light hung above your plants to ensure it has enough daily lighting.
In addition to maintaining its watering and sunlight needs, cilantro plants require good air circulation. The cilantro is prone to powdery mildew and root rot, both conditions that occur with excess moisture. However, you can typically avoid these problems by not overwatering your plants and opening a window where your plants are periodically to allow fresh air inside.
You can also care for your cilantro plants as they grow by fertilizing the soil with a diluted fish emulsion. Just like too much water, too much fertilizer can be detrimental to cilantro. Be sure not to add more than an amount that’s sufficient for the container you’re using. To care for weaker seedlings, be sure to cut off any leaves if they turn brown. Cilantro’s leaves be a vibrant shade of green to denote the plant’s optimum health.
Mature cilantro plants will grow to 12-24 inches tall. The great thing about cilantro leaves is that you can harvest them at any time and add them to your soups, stews, salads, or salsas. Ideally, you should use the finely cut leaves located at the top of cilantro plants for cooking. It only takes a few weeks to complete the cilantro plant growth cycle. In fact, the more you pluck them, the more you can encourage additional plant growth. You can use sharp scissors to snip whole stems directly from the base of mature plants when you’re ready to harvest in large quantities. If you choose, you can also store dried seeds in a sealed container or paper bag.
More Cilantro FAQs
Will cilantro grow back after cutting?
Yes! Cilantro will eventually grow back after you cut it to harvest or when you remove its seed heads. However, if you only cut what you need, you can encourage more robust plant growth.
Is cilantro easy to grow inside?
Many herb lovers find that the cilantro plant is one of the easiest plants to grow indoors because it’s easier to control the temperature and other growth factors like water and sunlight exposure. You can also more easily keep pests away from vulnerable seedlings.
Can you grow cilantro indoors year-round?
Even though cilantro is typically an annual plant, you can grow it year-round indoors. Plant cilantro seeds or cilantro seedlings according to the tips you found here.
Is cilantro easy to grow indoors?
Growing cilantro indoors and harvest providing you follow the tips outlined here.
What is the trick to growing cilantro?
The main trick to growing large cilantro plants that are lush with foliage is to snip away their flowers before they develop. This encourages the plant to put more energy and nutrients into leaf production, which is what we use for cooking and garnishes. Stem cuttings also promote healthy growth for cilantro plants.
Is cilantro a perennial?
Cilantro is typically categorized as an annual plant; however, it can be maintained for year-round harvesting when you grow cilantro indoors.