If you like the aromatic flavour of salsa served in Mexican restaurants, you’ll like cilantro. The leaves have an instantly recognizable fragrance that fills a room when you cut them. Sometimes called Chinese parsley, its distinctive aroma and flavour is also part of Caribbean and Asian foods, lending flavour to salsas, curries, salads, chutneys, herb butters, and meat marinades.
Light requirements Full sun to part shade.
Planting Space 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil requirements Plants thrive in rich, moist but well-drained soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Work organic matter into soil before planting to add fertility and improve moisture retention. In containers, use premium quality potting soil.
Water requirements Keep soil consistently moist. Apply mulch to keep soil cool. The combination of cool and moist soil postpones flowering and helps plants produce leafy growth longer.
Frost-fighting plan Cilantro prefers cool weather. Established plants withstand a few hard frosts in autumn. However, use a frost blanket to protect newly planted seedlings from frosts.
Growing tip Tuck cilantro where it can self-sow. Volunteers can pop up in fall from spring plantings or in spring from fall plantings.
Harvesting Pick leaves early in the growing season when plants are short, and again when leafy stems stretch as plants mature. Snip individual leaves or leafy stems close to the ground. Never harvest more than one-third of the plant.
Storage Cut cilantro stems and place in water like a fresh bouquet. Remove any leaves below the water line, and slip a plastic bag over leaves. Place the jar in the refrigerator. Change the water regularly. Stems will last at least 3 weeks. You can also wrap stems in a barely damp paper towel and tuck into a loosely closed plastic bag or container. Store in the refrigerator and use within 7 to 10 days.