Horticulture Magazine

How To Grow Coriander Herb

coriander herbs growing in soil

Coriander Overview

Official Plant NameCoriandrum sativum
Common Name(s)Coriander, Cilantro
Plant TypeHerb
Native AreaEurope
Hardiness RatingH5
ToxicityEdible
FoliageDeciduous
FlowersWhite or purplish flowers
When To SowJune, July, August, September
Harvesting MonthsJuly, August, September, October, November, December
Sunlight

Preferred
Full Sun or Partial Shade

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered

Size

Height
0.1 – 0.5M

Spread
0.1 – 0.5M

Bloom Time
July – August

Soil

Preferred
Chalk, loam, sand

Moisture
Moist but well drained

pH
Any

Coriander is a bit like Marmite: You either love it or you hate it. And, interestingly, whether you love it or hate it most likely comes down to your genes.

Scientists have found that the expression of your OR6A2 gene probably determines whether you enjoy the complex and engaging flavour of coriander, or whether you think it tastes a little bit like soap.

We’re guessing that most people reading this guide hold the former opinion of coriander, and are keen to grow it so they’ve got a constant supply of this handy herb on standby.

coriander foliage up close
Indispensable aromat, or soapy trash?

If you’re not a fan of the flavour, though, and you’re keen to grow coriander for the sake of it, you’re in luck as well. This guide is going to run you through the information you need to get a healthy coriander plant growing in your home.

What is coriander?

Coriander is a fragrant herb hailing from many areas of Southern Europe and Western Asia. Thanks to its distinctive flavour and incredible versatility, the herb has made its way into cuisines around the world. Not only will you find alongside other spices it in all manner of curries, but in dishes as varied as chilli, scallops, salads, pasta, and more. Whether as a garnish or an integral ingredient, coriander contributes an enormous amount to any dish it’s used in.

What’s the difference between coriander and cilantro?

Like many things, Americans have muddied the water around coriander a little. Across the Atlantic, they refer to the leaves and stalks of the coriander plant as ‘cilantro’. They still call the seeds ‘coriander’, however.

coriander seeds on a wooden spoon
In the UK, all of this is coriander (except the spoon)

In an interconnected world, this can sometimes lead to confusion. Many curry recipes online, for example, call for cilantro. To the untrained chef, this instruction can lead to hours spent in the supermarket, trawling up and down the herb section to little avail.

A few recipe ideas

If you need a little bit of inspiration before committing to growing your own coriander, let us help. Here are three delicious-sounding coriander recipes to get your taste buds tingling. Pay special attention to the enormous range of flavours that coriander can confidently complement –

  • Coriander chicken: Marinade chicken breast overnight in a mixture of ginger, lemon juice, sea salt, and garlic. Then cook in a sauce made with lots of coriander, fresh tomatoes, and chilli to taste for heat.
  • Roasted coriander cod: Make a sauce of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and salt. Then make a spice mix with cumin, turmeric and paprika. Cook a fish fillet with lots of chopped coriander, the spice mix, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, cover in the sauce and oven-cook for just shy of 10 minutes.
  • Coriander and mint chutney: What better way to unleash the raw flavour of coriander than blend it up with a bunch of mint, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, salt, sugar, and natural yoghurt. The flavours are unreal, and it’s just one of many examples of a coriander-based sauce lifting a dish.

Why grow coriander?

We’ve sung its praises enough already. The main reason to grow coriander is for the fantastic flavour, and to save a whole bunch of money compared to buying a fresh sprig of the herb every time you need to use it.

Coriander care & growing tips

The following sections cover everything you need to know to get coriander growing in your home. If you want to grow coriander but don’t want to cheat by using one of the pre-potted plants you can buy in supermarkets, then read on.

coriander being planted outside in soil
This could be you

How and where to plant your coriander

Planting out coriander is simple. All you need to do is find a spot in your garden that gets full sun or partial shade, prepare soil for planting, and sprinkle a thin layer of seeds.

Once planted, your coriander seeds will germinate after 1-3 weeks. Then it’s just a case of waiting for them to grow!

To ensure a regular supply of leaves throughout the year, plant staggered batches. You can sow coriander from June through to September, and you can protect plants growing in cooler months by covering them with polythene or another transparent, insulating surface.

Coriander also lends itself perfectly to growing in window boxes or planters, so if you’re working with a balcony, or even a windowsill, rather than a garden, you’re still in luck.

Watering

With coriander, your goal is to keep things moist. Too wet, and the plant will struggle to grow. Too dry, and it risks flowering early. If this happens, the harvest will be less impressive.

So, water sparingly, and stay vigilant to ensure that the soil never fully dries out.

Fertilising

Coriander will do just fine without being fertilised, but a little plant food won’t go amiss if it’s looking a little worse for wear. Read the instructions of your chosen product carefully to ensure you don’t apply too much.

Harvesting

For most of us, this is the only reason we grow coriander. To ensure a steady supply of the herb, ready to be used at a moments notice in all manner of delicious culinary exploits.

Picking coriander is easy. Just wait until the plant is ripe, then snip or pick the desired stems. Take them indoors and allow to dry on a piece of kitchen roll, then store in an airtight box until you need them. You can freeze coriander, too, meaning it’ll last almost indefinitely. (We wouldn’t recommend using frozen and defrosted coriander in recipes that call for it to be used fresh! It’ll end up very soggy.)

Troubleshooting common problems

Coriander is prone to a few issues, although nothing so severe that you shouldn’t be able to take care of it. Here’s what problems to look out for when growing coriander at home.

Slugs and snails

Almost every time we write a care and growing guide, we have to mention slugs and snails. These prolific nuisances see it as their birthright to crawl all over your precious plants, leaving a trail of slime and munched leaves in their wake.

With flowers and other decorative plants, the munch-holes are dispiriting to see. But with edible crops like coriander, they bring that extra level of revulsion. Not many people will willingly eat a leaf that’s already been eaten by a slug or snail..!

The best trick to keep these pests away from your coriander is to grow it indoors. They’ll have a very hard time getting into your house and up to the windowsill where your coriander is growing.

If that’s not an option, you can use various techniques and substances to discourage slug and snail visitations. We won’t go into them here as there are too many to list, but be assured that you have plenty of options.

Bolting

When a plant bolts, it flowers earlier than intended. Bolting is encouraged by dry soil, causing the plant to perceive the need to propagate itself and increase its chance of survival in challenging situations.

While this sounds like good survival instinct, it’s not good for the flavour of coriander. In fact, after a plant has bolted, you shouldn’t eat it.

To avoid bolting coriander, heed our advice from earlier on and ensure the soil doesn’t get too dry! It’s about maintaining that sweet spot between too dry and too wet.

Also, be vigilant and harvest your coriander when it’s ready. Waiting too long after it’s ripe will increase the chances of the plant flowering.

Enjoy the incomparable flavour

We love coriander. It’s tasty, versatile, cheap, and easy to grow – what a fantastic combination! If, like us, you’re tired of paying over the odds for a few puny leaves of ‘fresh’ coriander in the supermarket, growing your own at home is the way forward. In terms of return on investment, buying and growing a bag of coriander seeds is literally thousands of times better than buying plants from the supermarket.

Also, once you’ve got into the swing of staggering your coriander harvests, you’ll have a near-endless supply of the herb to work with. This is especially true if you freeze batches to be used in cooking later: Coriander lasts a long time in the freezer.

Whatever you decide to cook, whether it be a curry, a salad, a fish dish, or anything else, we guarantee you’ll notice the striking freshness and clarity of flavour that home-grown produce brings to your kitchen.

Bon appetit!

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