Cilantro

Fresh cilantro is an essential ingredient in pico de gallo and salsa.

Cilantro

 | 
(Coriandrum sativum)
  • Type: Cool season annual, though can overwinter in milder climates
  • Planting time: Early spring, fall
  • Features: Aromatic leaves, flavorful seeds
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Light, moist but well drained
  • Spacing: 12 to 18 inches
  • Plant size: 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide
  • Garden use: In containers, herb and flower gardens
  • Culinary use: Leaves & seeds in Mexican, Carribean or Asian dishes

If you like the aromatic flavor of salsa served in Mexican restaurants, you'll like cilantro. The leaves have an instantly recognizable fragrance that fills a room when you cut them. Sometimes called Chinese parsley, its distinctive aroma and flavor is also part of Caribbean and Asian foods, lending flavor to recaito, salsas, curries, salads, chutneys, herbed butters, and meat marinades.

Cilantro looks like flat leaf Italian parsley, but the leaves are thinner. It grows in a rosette of stemmy leaves that are ready to harvest shortly after planting. Young leaves have the best flavor, so be sure to harvest often. It is a fast-growing annual except in milder climates where it will overwinter. Cilantro grows tall and blooms at the end of its life, usually after the weather gets hot. After it blooms, harvest the seeds--they are what you buy in spice jars as coriander, another common ingredient in Asian cooking. You can grind the seeds or use them whole. Some gardeners also let the seeds drop to make new plants.

Fall is a great time to grow cilantro in mild climates, as the plants are frost tolerant and love the cool weather in fall, winter, and early spring.

Some Bonnie Plants varieties may not be available at your local stores, as we select and sell varieties best suited to the growing conditions in each region.

© 2014 Bonnie Plants, Gardening With You Since 1918.