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Cilantro is a flavorful herb used in many types of cuisine including Indian, Thai, and Mexican. But did you know that you can also grow it right in your kitchen? In this post, we’ll explain how to grow cilantro indoors. We’ve searched the internet for the best advice, so you can rest assured that these tips and tricks will help you grow the healthiest pot of cilantro indoors.
To grow a great cilantro plant, follow these steps:
- Plant seeds or seedlings at least 3 to 4 inches apart in a pot with sufficient drainage.
- Place the plant in a spot that gets 4 to 5 hours of sun each day.
- Water the cilantro until water runs through the drainage holes (only water when the soil is dry to the touch).
- Fertilize your cilantro every other week with a 20-20-20 fertilizer.
- To harvest, pinch or snip off the top part of the plant to encourage bushier growth.
We’ll explain each of these steps in more detail in the rest of this article, and we'll also answer many of the most frequently asked questions about growing cilantro indoors. So let’s get started!
Choose the Right Container
Cilantro grows best in containers that have plenty of aeration to provide extra moisture and air to the roots of the plant. For this reason, terra-cotta pots are the best choice - the porous quality of clay makes them super breathable, and since they don’t let in light, they also won’t promote the growth of algae. Just be sure to select a pot that isn’t glazed, as glazing makes it non-porous.
Best Pots/Containers for Growing Cilantro
Unlike some plants, cilantro has specific needs when it comes to the type of container in which it grows best. Similar to its requirements for soil, it needs a pot that provides plenty of airflow. Here are a few great options:
1. 5 Inch Terra Cotta Pots with Drainage and Saucer
These basic terra-cotta pots are the perfect size for planting cilantro. Plus, since they come in a six-pack, you can stagger the planting times of your plants and always have fresh cilantro to harvest!
2. Wall Tinaja Flower Pot by Cactus Canyon Ceramics
For a completely different look, try planting your cilantro in this hanging pot! Since it’s made from unglazed terra cotta, it makes the perfect home for your herbs.
3. Small Terra-Cotta Pots With Saucer
Plant With Care
Plant cilantro seeds or seedlings 3” to 4” apart from one another, and if you’re planting seeds, bury them 1/4” in the ground. If you’d like to be able to consistently harvest cilantro from your plants, try planting the seeds two to three weeks apart.
Best Soil for Growing Cilantro
Cilantro grows best in light, well-drained soil with plenty of perlite or sand to allow for airflow. It should also have plenty of nutrients - you can get these through adding fertilizer or using potting soil that has fertilizer already added.
We’ve selected a few types of potting soil that would be the perfect choice for growing your next pot of cilantro:
1. Organic Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix
Even though this potting soil is intended for succulents and cacti, its quick-draining qualities make it a perfect choice for cilantro as well. Plus, since it's organic, there’s no need to worry about unnecessary chemicals ending up in your food.
2. Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
The famous Miracle-Gro potting soil is a great choice for cilantro since it contains the necessary nutrients in its plant food blend.
If you’re starting seeds indoors, you’ll also probably want to use grow lights. These strong lights help maintain the warmth and light that young seeds need to thrive. Although grow lights are indispensable for starting seeds, they’re also a good idea for cilantro at any age during the winter.
Although our article Grow Lights for Your Vertical Garden: A Complete Guide focuses on vertical gardens, it has lots of useful general information about grow lights. Check it out!
Although cilantro thrives on moisture, it’s more important to water your plant thoroughly rather than frequently. Too much water could lead to root rot, algae, or other problems. To avoid this, wait until the soil is dry to the touch and then water until it runs through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot.
Since your cilantro will eventually be consumed by you, it’s important to make sure that it has sufficient nutrients in the soil and fertilizer. Plus, these nutrients will also help it grow stronger and simply be healthier.
If you’re able, use potting soil that is specifically for plants grown for human consumption. If you can’t find any you can also use potting soil that contains fertilizer. You can also add fertilizer to the soil periodically - diluted fish emulsion is a good choice, and so is any 20-20-20 fertilizer. Add some every two weeks using the guidelines suggested by your particular fertilizer, but make sure to add the right amount for the container.
Loamy compost is another great addition to a pot of cilantro. Check out our article 11 Best Loam-Based Compost Mixes for some great product suggestions.
Harvest your cilantro by pinching or clipping off the newest growth at the end of the branches - you can remove up to 1/3 of the plant. Not only will this give you the freshest cilantro to enjoy, but it also helps encourage bushy growth by preventing the plant from becoming tall and spindly in search of the sun.
Keep in mind that cilantro is an annual that typically grows for only 8 to 10 weeks, which is why staggering the age of your plants is important to ensure you always have something to harvest.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Cilantro Indoors?
After a germination of 55 to 68 days, it takes one to two weeks after planting for seeds to turn into seedlings. After that, it typically takes 45 days for the cilantro to be fully mature and ready for harvest.
Will Cilantro Grow Back After Cutting?
Unlike many other herbs, cilantro can only be harvested once or twice. You can harvest it multiple times by pinching off the tips of its stalks, but if you choose to cut it all off, it grows back only once. There is actually no guarantee that it will grow back, and the growth is almost always weaker than the first time.
How Often Should You Harvest Cilantro?
If your cilantro plant is healthy and thriving, you can harvest about once per week. However, if your plant is growing especially quickly, you can harvest even more frequently than that. It’s actually important to harvest fairly frequently since it prevents the plant from “shooting” or becoming too tall and weak.
Can You Freeze Cilantro?
If you harvest more cilantro than you can use immediately, just toss it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. Or, you can chop it up and put it in ice cube trays with a little bit of water. Cilantro lasts about 6 months in the freezer.