I’ve enjoyed cilantro in my food and it has always been in my mind to grow some when I create my container garden. I’ve started on my vision to grow in containers and this post contains all my research. It will give you all the information you need to grow cilantro in a pot.
If you’re short on time and looking for a quick step-by-step guide for growing cilantro in a pot, download the checklist below. If you need more information, keep reading the detailed guide below.
What is cilantro?
Cilantro is a herb that belongs to the parsley family. You can find it used in the cuisine of many countries like Mexico, the Middle East, India, and other Asian countries. It has a unique smell and flavor that some people love while others don’t enjoy it.
It’s best to use the cilantro leaves when they are fresh rather than dry. The seeds of the cilantro plant are dried and used as a spice in cuisines. The seeds are known as coriander and the spice is known as coriander spice.
What are some varieties of cilantro?
Indian Summer Cilantro
This is a variety of cilantro that can grow up to 2.5 feet tall. It’s a biennial plant which means it will grow for two years.
It does need a decent amount of maintenance so the plant grows well and produces the herbs you want. That’s why I don’t recommend growing this plant as a beginner.
The Vietnamese cilantro is an easy plant to grow and something I recommend to a beginner. It’s a plant that grows in zone 10 and above.
This variety of cilantro can bear the heat and does not bolt. This makes the leaves tasty and flavorful.
This type of cilantro is grown so the seeds can be collected for use in cuisine. Some varieties of seed coriander include Jantar and Santo.
Once the plant has turned brown, you can take it out and tie it upside down. Tie a paper bag to the stem so the seeds collect in the bag.
This is a plant that is in the same family as cilantro but is a different botanical species. It looks completely different with its long and narrow leaves.
Culantro has a flavor that is similar to cilantro but a lot more intense. That’s why it works well in dishes.
You can use culantro as a medicinal herb for the treatment of hypertension, fever, malaria, infertility, and seizures caused due to epilepsy.
It’s a plant that is easy to grow and suitable for beginners looking to grow some medicinal plants.
This is a slow-growing variety of cilantro that takes time to bolt. So you can harvest lots of leaves from this plant during the growing season.
The plant grows to about 12-18 inches in length and is suitable to grow in a pot. This is a cilantro variety that prefers cold weather to grow well.
This is a cilantro variety that has a mild and sweet flavor compared to some of the other varieties available. The plant will grow 18 inches to 2 feet in height and is suitable for growing in your pot.
This plant produces thin, feathery leaves that don’t look like some of the other cilantro plants. It’s hardy and can grow well even in colder climates.
This version of cilantro looks a lot like parsley but it’s a lot more pungent and flavorful. The leaves taste best before the plant bolts. They will become tasteless and bitter after the plant has gone to seed.
Some of the leaf cilantro varieties you can get include Long Standing, Leisure, and Jantar.
Where can you buy cilantro seeds?
You can buy cilantro seeds from your local garden center or nursery. There are also a lot of online stores that sell several varieties of cilantro seeds.
I’ve listed some of the cilantro seed varieties you can buy along with the temperatures they need and the height they will grow.
|Seed variety||Temperature||Height||Days to maturity|
|Cruiser||60-75 °F||12-18 inches||50-55|
|Calypso||65-70 °F||12-18 inches||50-55|
|Leisure||65-70 °F||12-18 inches||50-55|
|Marino||65-70 °F||12-18 inches||50-55|
|Santo||65-70 °F||12-18 inches||50-55|
|Confetti||65-70 °F||18-24 inches||28-35|
|Pokey Joe||60-75 °F||18-24 inches||50-60|
|Delfino||60-75 °F||18-24 inches||40-50|
|Vietnamese Cilantro||60-75 °F||24-36 inches||60-90|
|Fiesta Green||60-75 °F||20-30 inches||40-50|
|Culantro||75-80 °F||10-12 inches||60-70|
When is the best time to plant cilantro?
Cilantro is a cool-season plant which means it prefers lower temperatures between 50 to 80 °F. If the temperature goes higher than 80 °F, cilantro will bolt.
This means the plant starts producing flowers and seeds. The focus of the plant is not on its leaves. This makes them bitter in taste.
So if you want to grow cilantro to enjoy the fresh herb, the best time to plant is either spring or fall. This can be just after the last frost date or a few weeks before the first frost date.
The good thing about growing cilantro is it grows quite fast so you can have multiple harvests if you grow several plants in succession.
You can continue growing cilantro in summer as well. But the warm weather will cause the plant to go to seed. You can dry the seeds and use them as coriander spice.
How to choose a pot to grow cilantro?
I’ve made the mistake of choosing a small pot for cilantro and it did not work out very well. So don’t make the same mistake.
The cilantro plant needs a container that is 8-12 inches deep. The deep pot gives the cilantro roots enough space to grow for nutrients and moisture.
The container width will depend on how many cilantro plants you want to grow in one pot. If you want many plants, you’ll need a pot that is at least 18 inches wide.
The large width of the pot helps you grow several cilantro plants together without them crowding each other and competing for resources.
You can choose a pot made of any material you prefer like plastic, terracotta, metal, ceramic, or concrete. I would recommend using a plastic pot if you want something lightweight, durable, and inexpensive.
Terracotta pots are good as well but they are made from a porous material. So the water seeps out through the pores and you’ll need to water the plants more often.
You can use a grow bag if that’s what you prefer. Or you can even reuse pots or containers you may have at home.
Make sure to rinse the pots with a mixture of 1 parts bleach and 9 parts water for at least an hour. Then wash it well with water and air dry before you can start growing the plants.
The pot you choose should have drainage holes at the bottom so the excess water can drain out. If the pot does not contain drainage holes, you can drill some with a drilling machine or a heated screwdriver.
I’ve researched some plastic pots you can use for growing cilantro plants.
|Novelty Round Pot||10.25 inches||9.8 inches|
|Bloem Saturn Planter||9.75 inches||8.5 inches|
|Fiskars Planter||13 inches||10.25 inches|
|Bloem Freesia Planter||12.5 inches||11 inches|
|La Jolíe Muse Pot||14.2 inches||10.6 inches|
Which potting soil should you use?
The general rule when growing plants in a pot is to not use garden soil. It may be full of clay or sand making it unsuitable for the plant. It may contain pests, diseases, and chemicals you don’t want to reach the plant.
So pick a good potting mix that will work for the cilantro plant. A neutral potting mix works fine as long as it’s loose and drains water well.
You want to fill the entire pot with the potting mix until it reaches 1-2 inches from the top of the pot. So when you water the cilantro, the soil and water will not flow out.
When you plant cilantro seeds, they have the required nutrients for the 2-3 weeks till they germinate. But once the seedlings have grown, it’s good to help them with a little fertilizer.
The best thing to do would be to add compost to your potting mix when preparing the pot. This contains rich, organic nutrients and microorganisms beneficial for cilantro.
If you don’t have compost, you can add a slow-release organic fertilizer to the potting mix when preparing the pot. This fertilizer will release into the soil slowly after each watering you give. The fertilizer can be a balanced one with N-P-K values of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10.
Here’s a list of potting mixes that would be suitable for growing your cilantro plants.
- Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Mix
- Burpee Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix
- Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil
- Perfect Plants Organic Potting Mix
- Espoma Organic Potting Mix
How to plant cilantro seeds in the pot
It’s best to plant the seeds directly in the pot rather than in a seed tray and transplanting them later. The cilantro has long taproots and they don’t prefer movement once they have taken roots.
Water the soil to make it moist before planting the seeds. You want it to be a little moist but not damp or soaking wet.
If the seeds you bought have a husk on them, you can crush the seeds so the husk is broken. This will help improve the germination rates of the seeds.
Place the seeds in the soil at a slight distance from each other. You can place 2-3 seeds together because we can thin them later. You can then cover them with a little potting mix so the seeds are 1/4th inch below the soil.
Use a spraying-can to gently spray water on the soil to keep it moist. You need to do this every day because the seeds need to remain in moist soil for germination. The seedlings for cilantro will germinate after about 2 weeks
Where to place the pots?
Cilantro plants need full sunlight to grow well. This means 6-8 hours of sunlight would be beneficial to them.
But it’s best to provide them with indirect sunlight. Too much heat will cause the plant to wilt. The plant will also go to seed and bolt.
You can place the pots in a location of your container garden that receives indirect sunlight. If the heat gets too intense like in the afternoon, you need to move the pots to a shaded location.
How to water cilantro plants
You need to keep the cilantro seeds moist and the best way to do that is with a gentle spray of water from a spraying-can.
Once the seeds have germinated into seedlings, you can start watering them with a watering can. Cilantro likes to remain in moist soil to grow well. But too much water in the soil will drown the roots.
You can check the moisture level of the soil by putting your finger 1-2 inches into the potting soil. If the tip of the finger does not feel moisture, it’s time to water the soil.
Water the soil well till it drains out from the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes. This means that the water is reaching deep into the soil to the roots.
The best water to use for watering cilantro is rainwater if you can collect it. The next best option is distilled water if you have a distiller at home.
If you only have tap water to use, it’s best to leave the water in a pot for 12-24 hours. This reduces the chemicals like chlorine and fluoride from the water that is harmful to the plants.
The best time to water the plants is in the morning before the sun rises. This helps the roots absorb the required moisture before the water evaporates.
You don’t want to splash water on the foliage of the cilantro plants because it makes them an easy target for fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
Here’s a list of watering cans you will find useful for watering your cilantro plants.
- Bloem Aqua Rite Watering Can
- Novelty Watering Can
- Cado Watering Can
- Gardener’s Select Watering Can
- Calunce Watering Can
How to thin the cilantro seedlings
We planted the cilantro seeds close to each other. We also planted 2-3 seeds together. Now we will thin the seedlings that have germinated.
Thinning the seedlings helps prevent the plants from competing with each other for nutrients. It also helps keep the plants at a distance from each other allowing good circulation of air and sunlight that helps prevent fungal diseases.
Thinning means you need to cut out some of the 2-3 seedlings that may have germinated. You also need to cut out the seedlings that may be too close to another one leaving a few inches of space between the seedlings.
The best time to start thinning the seedlings is when they have grown 2-4 inches tall. You can see a couple of the leaves have grown on the seedling.
You should cut out the seedlings that look the weakest and let the other one remain in the soil. Hold the base of the seedling and cut it out using a pair of gardening scissors or pruners.
You can use the seedlings you cut out in your salad or you could add them to your compost pile if you have one.
How should you prune the cilantro plants?
Once your cilantro plants have grown to a certain height, you may want to prune or trim them a bit.
One reason is if you find that some of the leaves and stems are infested with a pest or a disease. Pruning such parts of the cilantro will help focus its energy on growing new foliage than on the diseased parts.
Another reason you want to prune your cilantro is so it keeps producing more foliage for your harvesting.
You prune the mature leaves for your consumption while leaving most parts of the plant. This encourages the plant to produce more foliage.
The best way to prune is to place your thumb and forefinger on the stem and pinch it off. You don’t want to pull on the plant but just gently pick off the stalk you need.
You can also use a pair of gardening scissors or pruners if that makes you more comfortable. The idea is to cut the stalks from the plant without hurting it which can attract pests and diseases.
Once you’re done with the pruning, you can add a little bit of potting mix and compost to the plants. This will give them the boost of nutrients they need to grow back again.
Here are some hand pruners you can use for pruning your cilantro plants.
- VIVOSUN Hand Pruners
- Fiskars Micro-tip Pruner
- GROWNEER Pruning Shears
- Felco Pruning Shears
- Corona Long Straight Snip
Does cilantro need fertilizer?
The best fertilizer for your cilantro plants is organic compost. If you have some, you can add it to the potting mix when preparing the container.
The compost will provide rich, organic nutrients to the cilantro plant. It will also introduce beneficial microorganisms to the potting mix. They will keep improving the texture and adding more nutrients to the soil.
Once the plants have grown to about 2 inches, you can continue adding a little bit of compost to the soil every month.
If you don’t have compost, you can add a slow-release organic fertilizer to the potting mix when preparing the container. This fertilizer will be released into the soil when you are watering the plants.
Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer on how much and how often to use the fertilizer.
Once the plants have grown to 2 inches, you can add the slow-release fertilizer once more for the growing season. Or you can use an organic liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.
Spray the liquid fertilizer on the soil as well as the foliage to give the plants a boost of the nutrients they need.
The fertilizer you choose whether slow-release or liquid should be high in nitrogen which encourages the growth of new foliage. You could also use fish emulsion fertilizer to give your soil the boost of nitrogen for the cilantro plants.
You need to be careful not to overuse the fertilizer on your cilantro plants as it will cause leaf or root burn that will kill your plants.
Here is a list of slow-release organic fertilizer you can use.
Here is a list of organic liquid fertilizer you can use.
- Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer
- Espoma Organic Grow Fertilizer
- FoxFarm Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer
How to protect cilantro from weeds
One of the advantages of growing cilantro in a pot is you don’t need to worry about weeds as much as growing in the ground.
But you may still have some weeds growing in the pot due to wind carrying them over or birds dropping them.
The best solution to the problem of weeds is to add a layer of mulch to the pot. This could be organic material like grass clippings from the lawn, dried leaves from the yard, or moss you collect near the house.
You should add the mulch only after the cilantro seeds have germinated and the plants have grown 2-4 inches. The mulch will prevent weed seeds from germinating by preventing sunlight from reaching them.
Another benefit of adding mulch to the container is it keeps the moisture in the soil to last longer. It slows down the evaporation of the moisture from the heat of the sun. And it regulates the temperature in the soil. So it remains cool and suitable for your cilantro plants.
As the organic mulch breaks down slowly, it will add beneficial nutrients to your cilantro plants. Grass clippings and dried leaves are a good source of nitrogen for the plants.
How to harvest cilantro
Cilantro is a plant that grows pretty fast. So you can harvest the leaves from the plant 3-4 weeks after sowing the seeds.
The plant should have reached at least 4-6 inches in height before you start harvesting the leaves. The more leaves you harvest, the more foliage the plant will grow.
Just make sure to only harvest 1/3rd of leaves from a plant at a time. This will leave enough on the plant to continue growing further.
To harvest the leaves, you can pick the leaves that have matured at the top. You can pinch them off with your thumb and forefinger.
Or you can use a pair of gardening scissors or pruning shears to cut them from the plant. Make sure not to pull the plant when harvesting the leaves.
I would suggest adding some compost and potting mix near the base of the plants once you’re done with the harvesting. This will give the plants a boost to grow new foliage.
If you want to harvest the entire cilantro plant, you have to wait for 45-70 days depending on the variety you are growing. Check the seed packets to know more about this. You can cut the entire plant at the base once it’s ready for harvesting.
If you’re growing cilantro plants to extract the coriander seeds from them, then you only need to wait till maturity. Once the plant starts growing seeds, you can harvest the parts that are dried out.
You can put these cuttings upside down in a paper bag and let them hang in a cool, dry place for a few days. The coriander seeds will fall off from the husks into the paper bag.
How to store cilantro
The best time to consume cilantro is the moment you harvest the leaves from the plant or the plant from the soil. So you should only harvest cilantro when you want to use it.
But there are ways you can store the harvested cilantro in the refrigerator for weeks and even months.
I’ll show you one way to freeze the cilantro leaves in the refrigerator to last you a couple of months. You can take out how much you need for your use in the kitchen.
- Clean the harvested cilantro stalks with water to remove any dirt from them.
- Place the individual stalks on a paper towel to dry them well.
- Separate out the leaves from the stalks. You can use the stalks in your cooking or dispose of them.
- Place some baking paper on a baking tray. Then place the leaves on the baking paper so they are separated from each other.
- Place the baking tray in the freezer for 30 minutes so the leaves are frozen. This is done so the leaves don’t stick to each other when you store them.
- Take the baking tray out of the freezer and use a plastic freezer bag to put the cilantro leaves in it. Do this immediately before the leaves with thaw and stick to each other.
- Take the air out of the plastic bag so the cilantro leaves don’t dry out.
- Store the plastic bag in the freezer and the leaves can last for 2 months.
- You can take the individual leaves out of the plastic bag for your use in the kitchen.
Pests and diseases that affect cilantro
Herbs tend to have a stronger defense against pests and diseases than other plants. But they still can be affected.
Growing in pots helps to keep the cilantro plants isolated from the other plants in the garden. This also helps lower the chances of the plants getting affected by pests and diseases.
The best way to keep fungal diseases away from cilantro is to avoid splashing water on the foliage. And growing it in a place that has good air circulation.
The benefit of growing in containers is you can monitor the plant every day as part of your watering schedule. If you find a pest or disease, you can take immediate steps before it becomes a full-blown problem.
Aphids: These are small sap-sucking insects that come in different colors like green, white, yellow, red, orange. It’s easy to get rid of aphids by spraying them with water and dropping them to the ground. Or using insecticidal soap on the affected parts of the cilantro plant.
Cutworms: These are larvae of adult moths that may be solid, spotted, or striped. They come in colors like grey, pink, green, black. They damage the plant by eating the base of the stem and roots causing the plant to die. You can protect your plants from cutworms by covering the stem with a toilet paper tube.
Root-knot nematode: These are microscopic worms that are present in the soil and feed on the cilantro plant’s roots. The roots develop irregular or rounded galls. The only solution is to dispose of the affected cilantro plant and potting soil.
Bacterial leaf spot: This is a bacterial disease that causes black or brown spots on the leaves. The spots increase in size and the leaves may wilt and fall off. There is no solution to this disease. You can prevent it by avoiding splashing water or soil on the foliage. And by selecting a cilantro plant variety that is resistant.
Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease that infects the plants causing white-gray powdery growth on them. A severe infection will cause the leaves to brown and drop. You can prevent this problem by avoiding splashing water or soil on the foliage. Or cut off the leaves that have been infected.
Soft rot: This is a disease caused by bacteria and a moist environment makes the cilantro plant susceptible. It causes the plant tissue to become soft and wet. Avoid splashing water on the foliage to prevent this disease. Take care not to damage the cilantro when pruning or harvesting.