Heirloom Expert: What's the Secret to Growing Cilantro?

Does growing cilantro leave you frustrated? Doug Oster has some helpful advice to get the plant going in your garden.

Cilantro Bunch

Cilantro grows best in shady areas and cooler weather.

Photo by fotolia/olhaafanasieva

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What’s the secret to growing cilantro? It’s driving me nuts, every time I plant it I’ll get some greens for a week or two and then it goes right to seed. Help! — Gary from Arkansas

Gary, I feel your pain.

Cilantro must have cool weather to thrive. In my zone 6 garden, it can actually overwinter without protection when the season is mild.

It’s almost impossible to harvest the leaves at the same time tomatoes are ready to make salsa in climates where the summers are hot.

Use succession planting with cilantro, sowing seeds every few weeks. When temperatures are warm, scatter seeds under tomato plants and other plants that can provide some cool shade for the cilantro.

Cilantro grown under those conditions will be leggy, but should stand a little longer before bolting and going to seed.

Remember, though, cilantro seeds are actually coriander and can be used for many dishes in the kitchen. The seeds can also be saved when mature to plant another crop.


Doug is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Backyard Gardener (www.post-gazette.com/gardeningwithdoug) and co-host of The Organic Gardeners radio program on KDKA.