Beloved for its role in Mexican cooking, annual cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is used in many other cuisines around the world. Its fresh, green leaves wilt easily and are typically refrigerated soon after cutting. One of the best ways to keep cilantro fresh in the fridge is to put it in a jar of water, where it will stay hydrated instead of flopping over and losing its crispness. Although this may look like a rooting technique, it is not.
Cilantro or Coriander
An Old World herb that first appeared in America in the 17th century, cilantro long has been used as an herb and a spice. Cilantro and coriander often are confused, but both seasonings come from the same plant. Cilantro most often refers to the leaves of the plant when they are harvested fresh and used immediately in cooking, while coriander refers to the dried seeds that are ground into a powder. Coriander has a strong flavor and less is needed in cooking, while fresh cilantro leaves are mild and aromatic.
You won't have any luck growing cilantro from cuttings whether or not they have been kept in the refrigerator beforehand. Although many herbs can be propagated from cuttings, they are woody perennials. Because cilantro is an annual and does not form woody stems before it goes to seed and dies, it can never provide cuttings that can develop roots and propagate the plant.
Cilantro Propagation Techniques
Cilantro is hard to propagate by any means other than planting seeds. Because it has a long and sensitive taproot, divisions are impossible. As a member of the Apiaceae family, cilantro is related to carrots (Daucus carota var. sativus), which -- like cilantro -- are annuals and grow in all parts of the United States. Cilantro is grown by planting seeds outdoors after the last frost or indoors six weeks before the last predicted frost date.
Culture and Use
Cilantro prefers full sun and well-drained soil and does not take kindly to movement after you plant it. From seed, it is ready for harvest after 40 to 90 days, depending on how large you want the plant to be before you cut it. Its leaves have good flavor and can be cut for fresh use at any point after the plant reaches 4 inches tall but harvest the leaves before hot weather arrives; when the plant bolts and starts to produce flowers, its taste becomes bitter. If you want to harvest seeds for use as ground coriander or to plant the following year, you will need to wait close to 4 months.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Coriandrum Sativum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Daucus Carota Var. Sativus
- BBC Gardening Guides: Propagate Herbs
- Washington State University Clark County Extension: Cilantro
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst: Cilantro
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Herb Culture and Use
- Photo Credit PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images