Intro: Cilantro, also called coriander, is a strong herb used fresh or dried for culinary purposes, especially in Asian and Mexican cuisines. Cilantro's seeds (actually the plant’s tiny fruits) can be found in spice jars under the name coriander, while its fresh leaves are often referred to as cilantro (in the United States only – other English-speaking countries call the fresh leaves as coriander, as well). Cilantro grows to 20 inches tall and has tiny white flower clusters at the ends of stalks. Cilantro can be difficult to grow in kitchen gardens, especially in hotter areas. The trick is to plant cilantro in the balcony garden in the spring or fall when the weather is cooler.
Scientific Name: Coriandrum sativum
Plant Type: Annual herb
Light: Full sun
Zone: Keep cilantro in cooler weather. If temperatures rise over 75 degrees, the cilantro will "bolt," meaning it will go to seed. Give it shade or bring it into an indoor garden on warm days to prevent bolting.
Fertilizer: Add a low-nitrogen water-soluble once a week or a slow-release fertilizer when first planted.
Propagation: Grow cilantro from seed. Harvest the cilantro plant's seeds by cutting off the flowers after the seeds have begun to turn brown. Just like when harvesting parsley seeds, put the cilantro plant's flower heads in a paper bag and shake the seeds free. Store seeds in a cool, dry place until needed for planting. To prepare the seeds for planting, crush the seed’s husk (each husk will have two seeds inside). Soak the seeds for one to two days, and then allow them to dry. Then the seeds are ready to plant about 0.25 inches deep (they will germinate in one to three weeks). Because cilantro doesn’t transplant well, sow seeds directly into the balcony garden. If you leave the cilantro in its plant container after it goes to seed, it will often reseed itself, and you won’t have to do anything. Because cilantro is such a short-lived plant (often only living three to six weeks before going to seed), you may want to plant a few new cilantro plants several weeks apart in order to get a longer harvesting time.
Misc. Info: You can harvest the cilantro leaves about three times before it starts going to seed. Young leaves are best, but wait until it has grown at least 6 inches all and harvest the outer leaves. To keep cilantro leaves fresh for several days, place them in a jar of water (just as you would place flowers in a vase) and put them in the fridge. All parts of this container plant, even the roots, are edible.