People that have successful indoor cilantro do just two things right: watering and fertilizing. Do wrong one of these (in excess or defect), and your cilantro will die. Here, I will provide all the suggestions from mine and other gardener experience plus some pro tips on how to maximize your cilantro harvest with the right watering and fertilizer. Ready to grow fresh cilantro again?
Hence, what are those 9 tips for long-lasting cilantro? The 9 tips for growing healthy and long-lasting cilantro are:
- Let the soil dry between watering
- Do not water with the same frequency
- Do not trust your eyes when watering
- Identify the right amount of water
- Avoid flooded saucers
- Avoid fertilizing seedlings
- Avoid fertilizing fresh potting soil
- Choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer
- Do not avoid synthetic fertilizer
Knowing those tips is essential. But do you know how? Having this information will teach you lots about your herb and give you all the knowledge to make the right decision in the future if any problem arises. Hence, let’s dive in!
Cilantro requires moist soil. The soil should be wet but not waterlogged. But what does this really mean in practice? Here are the tips from expert gardeners that managed to gather for you.
Indeed, mistake number 1 of many beginner gardeners is to overwater their herb. Waiting for the soil to dry is a perfect approach. However, do not wait too long. Do not let days or weeks without water after the soil dried out. The first time you need to check daily, then, once you know your herb, you need way fewer checks.
Do not trust those people that might tell you, water your cilantro twice a week, and you would be fine. No, your herb would probably not be okay.
Plants undergo different periods during their lifespan. From seedling to flowering, the cilantro might go through different seasons. The amount of light, the growth stage in which they are, and the ambient temperature all affect the rate of growth and, consequently, the water (and nutrients) your cilantro needs.
So, watering cilantro in summer and winter with the same frequency is a mistake. In colder seasons, the water will stay longer on the soil (limited evaporation), and, with the limited number of sunlight hours, the plant growth is also reduced. As a consequence, in winter, the cilantro will require way less water than it would be in any warmer period.
To understand whether it is time to water, do not trust your eyes. Indeed, they will only be able to scan the soil surface and identify if the surface is dry or not. However, the surface gets drier way quicker, making you believe that the herbs need watering while the soil at the root level is still moist enough.
Hence, you can use the so-called finger-test in which you stick your finger or a toothpick into the soil to check the moisture. If the soil sticks to your finger and feels moist, then your plant is going to be okay. On the other hand, if the soil feels dry and does not stick to your finger, it is time to be replaced.
If you do not want to check the moisture level manually, you can always buy a cheap three-way meter like the one discussed in this detailed guide.
What is the right amount of water for your cilantro? It does not exist.
Here the catch
There is not a unique and universal valid answer. Indeed, environmental conditions (humidity, temperature, sunlight hours), cilantro condition (stage of growth), and container features (material, size, and even number of drainage holes) all affect the amount of water the cilantro might need.
For cilantro, a good rule of thumb is to gently water over the soil surface uniformly until the first droplets come out from the drainage holes. After that, you should stop, otherwise, you risk overwatering the herb.
Having the saucer filled with water makes the bottom of the soil always wet. This is not beneficial for the plant transpiration and, more importantly, for the longest roots that are close to the bottom as they will end up always wet. Such a condition for the development and spread of nasty bacterias responsible for root rotting.
I guided you through the most crucial suggestion on watering. But what about fertilizing. Well, the good news is that if you are fertilizing your cilantro, chances are that you are doing it too much. Let’s dive into the details.
Here the catch
Many believe that seedlings are weak and need nutrients. So here the abundance of fertilizer. This cannot be farther from the truth.
Indeed, seeds are a reservoir of nutrients, and everything else the plants need to sprout. So avoid fertilizing the seedlings for around 1-2 weeks until the first pair of true leaves appear. At this moment, you need to transplant your cilantro into a larger pot with a good quality potting mix.
If you add fertilizer on your seedlings, the risk is to over-fertilize, bringing your cilantro to certain death for an excess of nutrients (very likely of nitrogen given that many fertilizers are more abundant in this nutrient as discussed in this fertilizing guide for herbs).
However, after the first leaves appear and you transplant your herb into a large container is time to fertilize, right? Not so fast!
You just transplanted your small cilantro in a large pot with some just bought potting mix. Time to fertilizer, right? Probably not for at least 6 months.
Indeed, good quality potting mix (and please, the few extra dollars are worth it as they will save you time in the long term) contains also fertilizer that the herb on it can use for around half a year.
If you are using an old potting mix, it is totally fine. However, you might now need to add fertilizer.
In which quantity, how often and which type? Here the final tip of the day
From tip 7, you know now that case in which you need to fertilize your cilantro. But what fertilizer (there are dozens) in which amount, how often?
The fertilizer I do recommend is a one with a stronger nitrogen component as this one from Amazon with a 24-8-6 N-P-K ratio. If you prefer more natural alternatives, a liquid fish emulsion can be used at half a dose every two weeks. Use it at the same frequency indicated from the package (in general, once or twice a week) but only half dose (using half of the amount of fertilizer for the same amount of water). Indeed, exceeding with fertilizer is quite easy, especially for potent as this one.
How many times you might have heard or read around that fertilizer are chemicals, and your plants will die if you use them! Wrong!
Indeed, as also stated by 30+ years expert gardener, plants that develop many green leaves (like most of the edible herbs) need frequent nitrogen-rich fertilizer. This is essential for their leaves development, in both quantity and quality terms. Following the indication of the packaging is OK. If you want to be super sure to avoid overfertilization, the half is a safe choice.
The so-called synthetic fertilizer (those obtained in a lab) are just “shortcut” that provide the same nutrients that mother nature encapsulates in the so-called natural fertilizer (like fish emulsion, blood meal). Moreover, natural and synthetic fertilizer is broken down by the plant before absorption producing the same essential chemicals (indistinguishable by the plant).
Now that you know the 9 tips that will guarantee a long life to your cilantro, the question is: how long will it last?
Cilantro is an annual herb that, as discussed in the perennial vs. annual guide, will last a season (or even less). That’s why, when friends ask me which herbs to grow, I always guide them to easier ones.
Cilantro, as annual requires you to remove the old plant once dies, and start from seeds again repeating the cycle.
It is not a big deal at all, of course. However, I do retain that a beginner gardener should focus more on easier herbs (like perennials, someone mentioned rosemary?) with less “maintenance,” and that can give easy quick wins.
Moreover, cilantro is a quite sensitive temperature herb. Different from others, it needs a cool place. Any warm environment (spring-summer) will cause it to bolt very quickly and die. Cilantro in a warm room can last as little as 3 weeks, even with perfect watering and fertilizer!
Are You Compromising your Cilantro Growth?
To grow Cilantro, as well as any other edible herb, you need a quality potting soil.
A potting soil that is airy, fluffy to allow air circulation and excellent drainage. At the same time, it should have good quality fertilizer in it and, more importantly, it should be pest free!
Here you can find my best pick and never got disappointed.
Are cilantro and coriander the same? No, coriander is the name given to a herb, while cilantro is the corresponding leaves and stems.
What are the benefits of eating coriander? Coriander is classified as antioxidant-rich food. It has proven to help in stabilizing blood sugar and improve the overall circulatory system health if introduced in the diet. Indeed, only 100g of coriander provides 1.5 times the needed daily intake of Vitamin A and almost 4 times the daily intake of Vitamin K.
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