Cilantro, also known as coriander, is closely related to the carrot plant. It is an excellent herb to cultivate at home as its leaves start to lose their flavour as soon as they are picked. Cilantro is widely used in Southeast Asia and Latin America as a fresh herb to flavour salsas and soups. it is easy to germinate from seed and can also be bought in pots from large stores and nurseries. Cilantro plants need a lot of light to grow vigorously indoors.
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Things you need
- Terracotta container
Place a potted cilantro plant on the warmest and brightest windowsill in your home, but keep the pot shaded to prevent the soil from heating up and causing the plant to start to flower. Placing the pot in a terracotta container keeps the sunshine off the pot. Cilantro plants thrive in hot dry conditions and need a minimum of four or five hours of direct sun a day.
Rotate the pot every week to ensure even growth. Do not move your plant around as cilantro responds to disturbance by bolting to flower and seed.
Water your cilantro plants thoroughly when the surface of the potting medium is dry. Aim to moisten rather than soak the soil, and allow any excess to drain away. Do not water your plant in the evening as cilantro plants are vulnerable to root rot in damp conditions.
Fertilise your plant every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser formulated for house plants at half the recommended strength.
Harvest cilantro leaves regularly by cutting the outer stems close to the base of the plant to stimulate further growth. Do not remove all the leaves from your plant as this will cause bolting.
Buy a new cilantro plant when yours starts to flower. Pinch out any flower stems to prolong the useful life of the original plant. Allow one plant to set seed, and harvest them once they have turned brown. Coriander seeds can be used as a spice or germinated at home.
Tips and warnings
- If you grow cilantro from seed, use a pot at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep to allow the plant's long taproot to develop.
- Make sure shop-bought coriander plants have adequate drainage holes in the bottom.
- Buy a new plant every month to ensure a constant supply of leaves.
- Do not sow coriander seeds in small pots as the seedlings do not appreciate being transplanted.
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