Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an annual herb with odorous leaves and a unique flavor. Harvest amounts for the plant vary greatly, but with the optimum growing conditions you should be able to produce a healthy amount of cilantro to use. Knowledge of the growing requirements for the plant will help you get the plant to flourish.
Cilantro can grow in a wide range of climates. It grows best, however, in full sun with the temperature between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If planted in the hot summer cilantro will "bolt" quickly, meaning that it will produce seeds and the flavor of the leaves will become bitter. To prevent this, plant the cilantro in early spring right after the danger of frost passes or in the fall. Light shade will also help prevent the plant from bolting too quickly.
Bed Preparation and Planting
Cilantro seeds do best when planted on mounds of well-drained, moist, nutrient-rich soil. Mixing organic compost into the soil at the time of planting will help increase nutrient content. Plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in rows that are 9 to 12 inches apart. Cover them with about 1/2-inch of soil.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements
Seeds require consistent moisture for germination. To do this, most growers use sprinklers or drip irrigation until the seed beings to grow. Once the seedlings appear, the cilantro requires about 1 inch of water a week for lush growth to occur. A complete fertilizer, containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium will also help produce lush growth. Look for a fertilizer with 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 on the label and follow the directions on the package for application instructions.
Cilantro does not compete well with weeds. Putting down a 2- to 3-inch layer of straw mulch will keep them down. Otherwise, cilantro is almost pest- and disease-free. It can contract leaf spot which occurs because of rainwater or overhead watering. To avoid this, water in the morning and try not to get the leaves wet.