Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Coriander has recently become a very popular herb to grow at home. Grown mainly for its green leaves, which are sometimes know as cilantro, and also its spicy seeds, this herb is a must in salads and as a fragrant green addition to Indian, Thai and Chinese curries. The seeds are a vital ingredient of curry powder.


How to grow coriander

Cultivation

Outdoors, coriander prefers a cool position and light shade and very well-drained soil.

Coriander is most commonly grown in a pot - either in a little shade on the patio or on a windowsill that doesn’t receive direct, burning sunlight in summer and which doesn’t get too hot.

Coriander varieties

Coriander is usually available as the species (Coriandrum sativum), although the variety Calypso has good bolting resistance and can be cut back and allowed to regrow several times, and Confetti has fern-like foliage.

Coriander growing

Sowing coriander

Sow directly in well-prepared, moist soil outside at monthly intervals from March to August for a continuous supply of leaves.

You can also grow it in 15-30cm (6-12in) pots, sowing a few seeds in each and germinating indoors with gentle warmth. Sow every 6-8 weeks to have a constant supply of fresh leaves throughout the year.

Young plants are usually available from garden centres in summer. Plant these out or pot them up into slightly larger pots.


How to care for coriander

When sowing outdoors, thin seedlings/young plants to 5-7.5cm (2-3in) apart. If you specifically want to grow it for its seeds, grow at 20-25cm (8-10in) apart.

Keep the soil or compost moist as it tends to run to seed if allowed to dry out, but take care not to overwater - especially in autumn and winter - as too much water can lead to rotting.

Give plants a light liquid feed of a general feed every couple of weeks during late spring and summer. This will help ensure plants go on producing a constant supply of leaves. Don’t use high potash feeds, as these will encourage premature flowering.

If plants become stressed they will run to seed quickly and the leaves start to lose their flavour once flowering begins. This is fine if you want to harvest seeds; otherwise discard the plants.

Harvesting

Start harvesting the leaves when they are bright green and young and the plants are 10-15cm (4-6in) tall.

You can treat plants as a cut-and-come-again crop. Otherwise, allow them to run to seed and allow the seeds to develop on the plant and harvest them before they are shed.

Flowering season(s) Summer
Foliage season(s) Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Sunlight Partial shade, Full sun
Soil type Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy
Soil pH Neutral
Soil moisture Moist but well-drained
Ultimate height Up to 50cm (20in)
Ultimate spread Up to 30cm (1ft)
Time to ultimate height 6 months