Cilantro Question

jaltmanFebruary 25, 2009

I started cilantro seeds indoors about 2 weeks ago in a Burpee 72 cell seed starting tray. They are now around 6 inches tall and look nothing like what the pictures show. They are nothing but tall stalks with two little leaves on the tops. Has something gone wrong or is this how they should look at this time? Also, when should I transplant them? All feedback would be appreciated. I am new to this. Thanks

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leira(6 MA)

The two leaves are likely the cotyledons, not the "true leaves." If your seedlings are that tall already and don't have true leaves yet, I would guess that they don't have nearly enough light.

Did you start your seeds under shoplights, or at least in a south-facing window with strong sunlight? If not, get them under some light, quick!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 2:26PM
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Yes. I have had them under light since I planted them. Just a 24" Flourescent with a plant and aquarium bulb. Have it about 12" above. I have started another Burpee tray with cilantro in it. It is just beginning to sprout. Same light situation except I only have it about 5" above.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 2:53PM
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leira(6 MA)

12" is much higher than it ought to be. I'd recommend something more like 2" above the tops of the plants.

Also, when you say you have a 24" fluorescent, do you mean a single bulb, or a 2-bulb fixture? I think that one bulb isn't enough for a full (11"x22") seed-starting tray. I've traditionally used the dual-bulb fixtures for one of these trays, but this year I'm actually considering doubling this light, because even with what I've been using, my seedlings sometimes get a little leggy.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 3:24PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The lights should be left on about 18 hours per day and be quite close, 2-3 inches as mentioned. Some of my plants grow so fast, they wrap around the bulb tubes and get tangled a bit. I also have a high powered mercury vapor light that I use once the plants are too tall for the growing shelves, but if plants are close to that they can get fried. The mercury vapor lamps are powerful enough that a foot away is about the right distance. The plants do need a little darkenss. My lights are on a time from 6am to about 1am the next day.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:54PM
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tournesol(Z6 Philadelphia)

I never had good luck with starting cilantro inside. My biggest problem was to transplant them. Cilantro doesn't like to be transplanted.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 8:43AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Also dill is one that doesn't transplant well. For the Cilantro, its better grown in pots as a bunch per pot. It matures to the parsley leaf stage quite fast. Its not really useful after that unless you want seeds of coriander, then it should be grown from seeds planted in the garden.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 1:33PM
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Yea...Cilantro is definitely not an easy herb to grow.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 5:03PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

jaltman, if you are in South Carolina, why sow cilantro indoors? It is a cool weather herb, it is probably too warm inside for it. Cilantro is very easy to grow for me, as long as I remember it is a winter herb. It will not sprout in the summer, and as soon as it gets a little warm it will bolt.

It seeds itself all over my garden so it is all over the place. When it bolts, the flowers are attractive, and also attracting to beneficial insects including lady bugs.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 8:34PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Here, some did survive a single winter from fallen seeds from the previous years plants. I don't have any problems growing from seed indoors in 2" pots. I usually plant maybe a dozen seeds per pot, and that gives me about 15 to 30 stems. Its harvested in about a month or so. Mine did survive a hot summer outside, because it was in mostly shade after 12 noon. Yes, it does bolt quite fast in heat. I like the slow bolting type though, so its not going nuts too soon. You cant believe the tiny bees that pollinate my dill flowers. They are covered with these little bees and wasps from blossom to seed. Big bees are just too heavy and pull down the flower heads. Last summer my broccoli bolted and was laoded with big yellow flowers that the honey bees loved. On the opposite side of the garden was cucumber plants and they too were loaded with yellow blossoms and bees. I would go out at 6:30 am to pick and it soounded like there was a hige bee hive nearby. In spring my fruit trees need pollinators and regular bees are not seen then. I have orchard mason bees for the early flowers. The orchard mason bees emerge from long paper tubes as soon as day temps remain at 50 degrees or higher..

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 12:27AM
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cabrita: I wish I knew that when I tried 3 different times last summer to grow it! =) I'll probably plant some mid-fall then. Can it survive a frost or do you bring yours indoors when it gets really cold?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 11:45AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

It is too tender for surviving any frosts. Plant in late August, as by that time in Z6 temps are still hot in day time, but cooler at night which is fine for it to germinate. By the time its leafed out your in mid September and its cool enough then. Also, plant in a shaded area.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Cilantro can totally survive a light frost. It's growth may be slowed but it won't die (especially in the spring). This has been my experience for the past 3 years.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:44PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

tn-veggie-gardner: I do not bring anything inside, but then again I am in zone 9. We had ONE day of below 32C (it happened Dec 21). The only thing that died was the basil, every single basil plant in the garden was kaput. It is OK, it is an annual and it has reseeded itself abundantly. Glad to see tannabanana from 5a can confirm that cilantro will resist frost since I do not have so many occurrences of it, even though my guess would be yes.

Not to offend anyone and I love cilantro, but I use it as a 'weed substitute" or as 'grass". I grow herbs and flowers to attract beneficial insects in between my vegetable beds. Cilantro is one of my flower/herbs that I use this way.

I should add that I do grow two types of cilantro, slow bolting (for the herbs, to make salsa, chutney, and so on) and a fast bolting one for flowers in the winter. I have them separated. The fast bolting one is in the front and I do not save seed from it, I let it reseed (unless I happen to need some fresh cilantro seed AKA coriander). Fast bolting seed is VERY cheap, since I use the whole coriander spice packs from ethnic stores where you get like 8 oz for $1.25 or so. Lower sprouting rate but at this price who is to complain? I do not recommend that one for the herb, it is commercial SEED cilantro after all, but I sure like the fast flowers, and my bees and lady bugs also seem to like them.

I have never started cilantro seeds in pots, I direct seed both of them.

I have been harvesting the slow bolting one a lot recently, it is all over the place, both from reseeding and me planting more (I did not know where and how much it would reseed)

August is still way too warm around here. I sowed (the slow bolting ones) in November and December, but I would do it earlier if we did not have temperatures over 100 in November.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 3:09PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

All depends on the growing zone and what temps each has when freezes do occur. Some Z6 people can grow boysenberries. I can't here. For Z6 starting in pots indoors throughout the winter months can give you several doses of the volitile herb. Cilantro, once picked loses all taste after a few days, dried, it has none, frozen has none, and even home canning with fresh cilantro will lose its punch.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 5:07PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I have had some success freezing sauces that contain cilantro. Mint cilantro tamarind chutney comes to mind. I make a big batch and freeze in quart size bags, then I break a chunk when I need some. It does retain the wonderful cilantro flavor (and the mint too).

I would like to find other sauces like that, that can be frozen and preserve that wonderful flavor. I heard mixing with some oil (like one does with basil to make pesto) has worked for some people. I better make some chutney and preserve some as I have a whole lot growing strong. Nothing wrong about letting it go to seed though.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 8:02PM
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"It's growth may be slowed but it won't die (especially in the spring)."

The BIG word here is SPRING. Plants will survive many things in the spring during their main growing season that they will not survive any other time of the year. Don't plant in October and expect plant to survive the frosts.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 10:46PM
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I have the same problem: long, weak stems with two little leaves at the top. Should I clip the two little leaves and put in more sunlight?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 1:20PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

gardenia6441, I'd start over, and give the seedlings adequate light. See the earlier posts in this thread for tips on how to provide enough light using fluorescents. Starting seeds in a window is tougher, because the window might seem bright and still not be giving enough sunlight. Seedlings that have already produced long, weak stems are "etiolated," and will never be healthy.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 8:59AM
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