The Cilantro Saga

sugi_c(9a)February 20, 2013

There are three plants that hate me. In turn, I repeatedly grow them, only to confirm -- yup, they hate me.

One is the Gardenia -- of which I've wrote plenty on this forum. The other is the Maidenhair Fern -- which also dies a slow death around me. And of the herbs -- cilantro tends to dislike me immensely.

So in previous attempts -- I'll plant cilantro in the pots I want them in and none of the seeds would germinate. I plant them in their own cells - and upon transplant, they up and die on me within a day or two.

So this time, in my effort to fool them and Mother Nature simultaneously, I've gone against everything I've ever been told about cilantro, and taken tiny little sprouts that came up just a couple of days ago in a tiny pot and plucked one out (that was basically growing right next to one of the other seedlings) to plant in this slightly bigger pot, and cut the soil in half to move the other two. I made it a slightly more acidic mix, very aerated, and will see where these three things end up.

You figure if you do exactly as you *should* and the things die on you -- then it's entirely logical to do all the things you shouldn't do and perhaps it shall live!



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I've done things the opposite of what I've been told before...just to see if maybe it would accidentally work. But Cilantro is fairly easy most of the time here. The only learning curve is that it turns out Cilantro does better here being planted in the fall! The Texas heat tends to make it bolt too soon if started in spring. I haven't had any more luck with ferns than you have. Between the heat and the drought, they just don't like it here, I guess.

This post was edited by linda_tx8 on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 3:08

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 3:06AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I direct sow cilantro with terrific results. Give it a try, if you are able.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Linda, so far - this "do the opposite of what's sensible" is proving okay! Well, at least the little beasts are still upright, green and bigger than yesterday -- so that's a good sign.
The only fern I like is this "Venus Maidenhair Fern" and this is also the one I've attempted four times now. So far, the one I have is doing okay -- but this time, I placed it in the kitchen where I figure there is more humidity than anywhere else in the house. It's not doing amazing but it's green and appears to be throwing new shoots, so....

Fata - I've direct sown into my yard, when I had one -- and last year, in the pot i intended for it grow in. Both years yielded nothing for me. Previous to that, I did it in cells, and all germinated, but once I transplanted them, they got all droopy and then croaked. They just hate me, with complete disregard for how much I like them!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:29PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I see you are Zone in 10a. That is pretty warm for cilantro. I don't have suggestions for really warm locations (I have opposite concerns) though I have seen people talk about cilantro in places like Texas here before. And as Linda suggests above, the time of year when the planting is done seems to be a big suggestion for warm locales.

Here cilantro grows unbidden. If seeds drop, they sprout. The cilantro in last year's garden was all self-sown. But I have much cooler temperatures and more moisture - both much friendlier for cilantro.

Just a thought, where are you getting your seed for planting from? Some people try just planting coriander intended for kitchen use instead of seeds intended for growing. I plant seed that I have collected myself or bought from seed vendors that are specifically intended for growing. While sometimes you can have luck in growing seeds intended for kitchen use, they are not always worth the effort. Those seeds are not always kept in conditions or processed in ways that make them good growing candidates.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Hey Fata,

All of my seeds are from Kitazawa here locally or from a nursery. The direct sown seeds were mail order, too, though I don't recall where. It was definitely a nursery site.

It's quite deceiving in my area. The temperature stays mild with literally 10 days in summer above 80 and most summer days hovering around 70-75, but the sun can be blasting hot to the point of scorching. Come evening, I wear coats and scarves well into August, no joke. SF area weather is wild.

Theoretically, anything that needs SUN but not HEAT should work but I've yielded varying results. That said, all of the failed attempts at cilantro previously were in the EAst Bay, where it does hit 90-100 often enough.

So far, the seedling are upright! Still!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:21AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I've had really good luck with seeds from Kitazawa, though I have haven't tried any of their cilantro varieties. I wouldn't expect the seed to be issue - I had to ask though. Herb seed planted when intended for kitchen use can be a real roll of the dice.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:10AM
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Fata, I've planted some leftover veggie roots from the kitchen (to about a 60/40 success rate -- nothing to write home about) but I never tried any seeds from the kitchen. I popped the bottom of romaine lettuce in good soil last night, in fact. So many seem to have success w/ this whereas with lettuce, I think it's been about 50/50 at best for me.

Hmm, but that does make me wonder what would happen if I planted some of my cumin seeds? I've never had a cumin plant! :-D I think I shall try it.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:37PM
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The best Cilantro seeds I have ever planted were from an Asian Grocery store. From direct sowing I ended up with a very wide and long bed of Cilantro that I had to find a home for quickly. Now that I know how to use it better I would have kept a lot more and froze the extra. As for seeds sold in the main grocery stores they are usually heat treated to prevent sprouting. I find that Asian grocery stores carry a better selection of herbs that may or may not sprout, but the chances seem to be much higher there. Again the fun is in the learning, enjoy your gardening experiences.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:13AM
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They made it!
For a couple days, they looked frozen in time but then some growth began. I can smell the salsa already.

On another note, aren't seedlings so cute?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 8:30PM
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"Here cilantro grows unbidden."

I agree; isn't is a weed? (Just joking) I grew it the first time last year. I tried to harvest all of the seeds. Never the less, by fall I must have had 100+ sprouts. I would be very surprised if I need to plant any this year. I'm guessing cilantro will be like dill, Plant it once and it grows every year. Just pull it up where you don't want it! Maybe zone 5 does have its' advantages.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:23PM
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Lucky peeps.

Before you blame it on my zone and credit your own zone, haha -- I throw myself in the hat for real consideration as THE PROBLEM. Like I said in the original post -- cilantro doesn't like me; I like it. Clearly, cilantro likes you guys much more.

Dill... I planted some seeds this year and they never came up, so now I have succulent cuttings growing in there. Pssh to all dill.

I'm just proud of the three cilantro STILL alive. I've had slightly larger plants so this is not the world record for me yet -- but so far, so good!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 6:03PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I've had great luck direct sowing too.

Not sure if you are at all intersted but...

Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) may be a good alternative for you if you are unable to get the cilantro to grow (though hopefully you will!). It tastes quite similar to cilantro, but has a deeper flavour. Maybe not quite as "zippy" and light as cilantro. Only thing I disliked about it was that the leaves had a rather jagged/sharp edge that was not pleasant to eat! Lol. But if you cut up finely or puree for a marinade or somesuch it should be okay.

It does better in warmer climates (though in shade I believe) than cilantro. It took FOREVER for mine to bulk up, but thankfully it seems to do well indoors, so I was able to get it reasonably big before setting outside (wouldn't replant it since it has a delicate tap root).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:28PM
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CMK - thanks for the info. I've had culantro (in food) but have never seen the seeds. It did taste milder than cilantro but you could definitely taste the relation.

I usually use my cilantro fresh--and had this been an herb that actually worked for me, three plants would not even come close to being enough. But this time, I figured why waste cells on plants that will not sprout or definitely up and die on me if they do sprout -- and of course, THIS TIME -- I have nice, strong little seedlings going.

I did move them back from full, full sun -- and they are now in all-day bright light but and maybe an hour full sun in the morning.

I did pinch one off to taste. Yum!!!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 7:23PM
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I am a first time gardener and I planted my cilantro approx 21 days ago and I see several sprouts but it's been extremely mild. My fingers are crossed.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 1:41AM
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Update: all three seedlings continued to grow. But then I decided I wanted these in one of my window planters instead of in its own pot, so I barerooted them all again, haha -- and moved them to the planter about a week ago.

And it seems to have worked!

Leona, congrats!! Hope they continue to grow well.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 6:33PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

They look to be happy plants. Congrats!


    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:23AM
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mistigardens(TX 7/8)

I usually toss about 15-20 seeds in a medium sized clay pot, when those seedlings are about a foot tall, I toss some more seed in. This new batch will be up and growing when the first ones are ready to bolt. I do this all summer. I start the pot out in late winter/ early spring in full sun, then as our North Central Texas spring and summers get hot I move it deeper and deeper into morning sun only shade. Cilantro is a winter crop in our hot climate so by reseeding all year there will be a fresh crop all the time. Good luck. Another option is Seeds of Change - slow bolt cilantro easily found at gardens centers, even walmart!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:29PM
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You are in the wrong zone to grow Cilantro for the leaves but if you plant now it should bolt which will give you seeds which will be great for using for plants next fall.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Sugi, plant cilantro in the fall. I'm in Houston, and mine is bolting now because winter is officially past.

As for ferns - most ferns will die if grown indoors. They just don't like it. I have a button fern, birds nest fern, and macho fern indoors, and the rest are outside. I'd love to have more indoors, but they won't thrive.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:54PM
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HayloKitteh(z9/10-San Diego)

This is my cilantro (right, of course) Planted them around a month and a half ago. I live in San Diego and they seem to be doing just fine. I actually harvested a little today for some rice :) There's also some green onion to the left of it.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Looks good! I have green onions too, but lately I'm thinking they are quite boring compared to my other plants. See? It's a no win situation: be problematic and I want to try it over and over again; grow well and I am bored with the plants. Haha.

My little gathering of three seeds of cilantro also made it, though I just moved them to the inner area of the balcony due to that and the parsley getting too much sun. Been cooking with both -- nothing quite like that -- so my cilantro saga is now concludes with a happy ending!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:43PM
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HayloKitteh(z9/10-San Diego)

When I harvested my cilantro yesterday I smelled it and thought "the ones I buy from the store have a much stronger smell, but these smell better to me." Are the store bought ones tampered with a lot to make them prettier or to smell better?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 4:42PM
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Cilantro, like all members of the parsley family, prefers to be sown directly into the soil. A really good, step by step set of instructions on how to do this can be found at the Alan Chadwick website. Navigate to the "Techniques" section, and then to cilantro. This method never fails!

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Chadwick

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 2:02PM
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CarloMartin947 is on the right track ... cilantro and parsley are taproots. You CAN container grow them, but it's got to be a DEEP container. I can't recall how deep mine is, but I'll go out tomorrow when it's light and measure ....

As for the zone issue, I used to grow it in 8b/9. It will bolt in July/August, nothing to be done about it, as far as I was able to find. Interested to hear if anyone else has a solution ...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:11PM
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Very informative thread! Will a standard potting mix with mostly sphagnum peat moss & a little vermiculite and perlite (for EarthTainer or GlobalBucket self watering set up) work for Cilantro in a container?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:02PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Cilantro is a Cold crop. Therefore in hot zones it should be direct somn as soon as possible and harvested before they bolt. Then you can plant another round like in august.

But the starter's problem is not bolting : His/her problem seeme to get it going.

I thing you should not fuss about spacing seeds in this case. I plant thaem in clumps.(same with parsley). The when they are almost harvestable , I woul thin them.

attached is a photo of my cilantros(right side) and fenugreek (left half). They are stil very young(about 2" tall). But you can see how closely are spaced. they don't mind that. Thsi is not something that will last for ever, bear fruits etc.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:34AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

This picture was supposed to be embeded in the above post. ...always have problem wuth GW hanging

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:41AM
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Living in the Houston area the best Cilantro I have ever grown came from the Hong Kong grocery store. They sell it as a spice that came in a large plastic bag. I ended up with a row 10 plus feet long. I planted them in the fall and harvested them in the spring. I know they treat many of the seeds so they will not sprout but I just had to try them that one time. If I knew what I know now about that wonderful seasoning I would have frozen a lot for later use as it is easy to save just frozen in a zip-lock bag for months at a time.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 3:12PM
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