By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you love the fresh flavor of cilantro in your salsa? What about as a garnish? We are huge fans of cilantro around my house. If you love cilantro, as well, you should consider growing it indoors.
This way you could enjoy the plant’s flavors year-round. If you’re interested, you’re in the right place because I’m going to walk you through each step of the growing process.
If you’d like to grow cilantro inside your home, here’s what you need to know.
What You Might Need to Grow Cilantro Indoors
Cilantro is an easy herb to grow inside your home. It doesn’t need much to create an adequate grow space. As with most indoor plants, you must make sure you choose a planter and soil that’s well-draining. The plant needs a flat surface to sit on while growing as well.
The biggest thing cilantro needs is light. If you can’t provide its lighting needs naturally, invest in a grow light or LED lighting system.
However, keep in mind, if you don’t purchase a light that’s stand-alone you must have a way to hang the lighting above the plant. I purchased a wire pantry rack for growing plants indoors. This provides a level growing space for the containers and a way to hang lighting above the plants.
However, if you don’t wish to make such an investment, you can hang a shelf over a table or any other flat surface. Hang the light from beneath the shelf, and it should provide what the plant needs. Be sure the shelf isn’t too far away from the plant.
If you have these few items situated when you’re ready to grow cilantro, you should be starting your plant on the right foot.
Growing Conditions for Cilantro Indoors
I love growing herbs because they’re easy. They’re a great place to start for those new to gardening, but they’re also a nice break for the experienced gardener.
Regardless of the category you fall under, cilantro could be a great herb for you. The reason being is it’s low maintenance and doesn’t require many accommodations to create an ideal growing space. The main things this herb needs is a well-draining planter, soil which drains adequately, and proper lighting.
Cilantro doesn’t need a large growing container. The main thing is that the container drains quickly, to avoid wet roots. The container should also be filled with quality, well-draining soil. This will help feed the plant and avoid wet roots. It’s also good if the soil is slightly loamy as this helps with drainage, too.
Finally, cilantro needs light. It prefers five hours of full sun per day. If you don’t have an area around your home, which receives this much direct sunlight, you can use a grow light or LED lighting to supplement. Keep in mind, for every hour of natural sunlight you supplement, the plant needs two hours beneath the light.
Be sure to place the light about six inches above the plant. If the plant begins to look leggy, you’ll know to move the light closer. If the plant begins looking stressed or scorched, move the light further away from the plant.
By providing these three necessities, your cilantro plants should have an ideal growing location inside your home.
How to Plant Cilantro Indoors
Cilantro can be purchased or started from seed. It takes such a short period of time to grow the herb from seed, I would recommend this method.
However, if you’re new to gardening and want to take the simplest route, purchasing a seedling from a local nursery would be your simplest option.
If transplanting a purchased seedling, fill a well-draining container with quality soil. Dig a hole in the soil that’s large enough to support the seedling’s root system. Place the seedling in the hole. Once it’s sitting snugly, fill the hole with soil. Press firmly around the base of the plant to ensure no air reaches the roots after planting.
Growing cilantro from seed is an economical method to producing this herb, and it’s extremely simple. Fill your chosen planter with well-draining soil. Dig a small trench in the container that’s no more than ¼ inch deep. Sprinkle the seeds in the trench and cover them with soil.
The soil should stay moist during the germination period. It’s wise to spray the soil with a bottle of water to avoid oversaturating.
Germination can take anywhere from one to two weeks. You should keep the seeds where the temperatures are between 55- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit, and wrap the tray in plastic wrap to create a makeshift greenhouse until the seeds have sprouted.
Once the seeds have sprouted and are approximately two inches tall, pick the strongest seedling. Most containers will only hold one cilantro plant. So you’ll choose the strongest of your seedlings and cut the other plants off at soil level using scissors. This will avoid damaging the root system of the plant you’re keeping.
If you’d like to enjoy cilantro year-round, it’s a good idea to succession plant the seeds two times per month. Cilantro has a shorter lifespan than some other herbs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep the harvest going by planting more seeds on an on-going basis.
Caring for Cilantro Indoors
Cilantro is a low-maintenance herb. It needs water, fertilizer, and pruning to thrive. When watering your cilantro plant it’s a good idea to use the deep watering method. This style of watering helps the plant receive the water it needs without overdoing it. Place the planter in your kitchen sink and spray the soil with water until it’s running out of the bottom of the container.
Allow the plant to drain fully before putting it back in its growing location. Don’t add any more water without testing the soil. When you can stick your finger in the soil, and it’s dry to the first knuckle, it’s time to add more water. Until then, skip watering your plant.
Cilantro does like being fertilized. You should use an all-purpose fertilizer that has been diluted by 50%. Apply the fertilizer two times per month.
Finally, prune the ends of the cilantro plant on a regular basis. This will encourage the plant to become fully instead of lanky.
If you provide this minimal amount of care to your cilantro plant, it should do well in your indoor herb garden.
Pests and Diseases Which Could Harm Cilantro Indoors
When growing herbs indoors, you’re able to minimize some of the threats that they’d face when growing outdoors. In this case, cilantro only has one pest and one disease which might still impact the herb when growing indoors.
The disease which could impact cilantro is damping off. This is a fungal disease. This occurs during the plant’s seedling state. When you’re growing cilantro from seed, it’s vital that you follow a few important steps.
First, make sure you plant in a container and soil that’s well-draining. It’s also wise to sprinkle cinnamon over the soil because it has natural anti-fungal properties.
The next thing you must do is ensure that cilantro receives the necessary light once the seeds have sprouted. This will help warm the soil which alleviates part of the environment that fungus likes to grow in.
Finally, don’t overwater your seedlings. Cilantro prefers cooler temperatures. When you mix extreme amounts of moisture with cooler temperatures, you create an ideal breeding ground for disease.
Unfortunately, once damping off occurs, you can’t correct it. You must start the process over. By following the few suggestions above, you should be able to avoid this issue.
The only pest which might bother cilantro, while growing indoors, is an aphid. They suck the sap from the foliage of the plant which causes it to become discolored and could kill your herb. Therefore, at the first sign of aphids, it’s best to spray your plant with soapy water and also treat it with an insecticide to avoid further issues.
Stay alert to these two problems, and you stand a greater chance at helping your cilantro plant thrive while growing indoors.
How to Harvest Cilantro Indoors
A cilantro plant only lasts approximately two months. You can trim it back to about a half-inch with each harvest, and the herb will regrow. However, this process doesn’t prolong its life span like it does for other common herbs. So harvest approximately a quarter of the plant each week, once it has passed the seedling stage.
This herb can be used fresh in salsas, as a garnish, or to season a variety of dishes. You can also dry it for later use. Be sure to store the dried herbs in an airtight container to avoid any moisture spoiling your harvest.
Cilantro is an amazing plant to have around. My husband loves it so much, he’ll graze on the plant every time he passes by it.
If you enjoy the flavor of cilantro, too, you should consider adding it to your indoor gardening space. It could brighten up your kitchen in appearance and flavor.