Coriander is a versatile herb popular in Asian cooking including curries, Chinese and Thai dishes. Both the seeds and the leaves of the plant can be used, and offer two distinct flavours. The seeds have a slight lemony flavour; they are often ground and used as a spice. The leaves (also known as cilantro) have a slightly bitter taste and can be chopped up and added to dishes and breads or used as a garnish.
How to Grow Coriander
Coriander enjoys a sunny position but appreciates a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Coriander has a tendency to run to seed if stressed; this is where it flowers prematurely and develops seeds instead of growing lush foliage. This is fine if you are growing the plant for its seeds, but not if you are growing it for its leaves.
Coriander is best grown from seed directly into the soil. This is because it is quite a sensitive plant; transplanting young plants can shock them and cause them to bolt (run to seed). Prepare the soil thoroughly by digging it over, removing any weeds and incorporating organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or compost. Rake the soil so it’s level and sow seeds 4cm apart in drills 1cm deep.
If you are growing coriander for its seeds, grow the plants in full sun. This will cause them to develop seeds quicker as the hot stressful conditions will trigger flower production.
Caring for Coriander
Germination of coriander takes up to 3 weeks. Thin young plants to 20cm apart to allow them to grow to their full size. Water them in dry periods and ensure the soil never dries out. If flowers develop remove them immediately – this ensures the plants focus their energy on growing new leaves. Re-sow coriander every three weeks to ensure you have a continual supply during the summer. It is not normally necessary to feed coriander if the soil is well nourished. However, if the plants appear to be suffering give them a liquid organic feed to perk them up.
Growing Coriander in Containers
Coriander does well in containers and can be grown on a sunny windowsill or balcony. The container must be quite deep as coriander has a long taproot. Scatter seeds on the surface of the compost and cover with soil, watering well. Care for the plants as you would if they were in the ground; you may need to water them more often as pots dry quickly.
Harvest the leaves when the plant is big and robust enough to cope. Pluck or cut each leaf off the stem or snip whole stems if necessary. Both the leaves and the stalks can be used.
If you are growing coriander for its seeds, wait until the flowers have died off before harvesting. Cut the stems and place the heads of the coriander in a paper bag, with the stems slicking out. Tie the stems and the bag together in a bunch and hang upside down in a cool, dry place. Wait for three weeks and then shake the bag. The dry seeds will fall out from the flowers and be ready in the bottom of the bag. Keep them in a dry place and re-sow the following spring.
Coriander is a tasty herb to grow, both for its leaves and seeds. If you re-sow seeds every three weeks you can have lush coriander leaves throughout the summer to add to salads and Asian dishes.
Once you've successfully grown this fragrant herb, get some recipe inspirations from our feature Cooking With Coriander on this site.
Can you grow coriander in winter in a tub indoors?
We've never managed to make one last through winter. Coriander is an annual and dies off each year - once all the leaves have been removed. Give it a try and let us know how you get on. Make sure it gets light and don't overwater it.
HerbExpert - 28-Oct-16 @ 12:53 PM
Can you grow coriander in winter in a tub indoors?
Mya - 27-Oct-16 @ 8:24 AM
Linda - Your Question:
My coriander was growing well and I had lots off of it. It then grew very long stems and I used the leaves and froze them but it is now going brown and is not growing nay more leaves. There does not appear to have any seeds to harvest. I used coriander a lot. What should I do?
It sounds like it's died...unfortunately you may have to go out and by a new plant/seeds.
HerbExpert - 5-Jul-16 @ 11:07 AM
My coriander was growing well and I had lots off of it.It then grew very long stems and I used the leaves and froze them but it is now going brown and is not growing nay more leaves.There does not appear to have any seeds to harvest.I used coriander a lot.What should I do?
Linda - 4-Jul-16 @ 9:39 AM
@gp. Yes follow the procedure for drying the seeds then replant later in a few weeks (although it would be better to wait until next spring), you should then have new coriander plants in late June/early July. Keep them well trimmed and watered etc to prevent them going to seed too. If you want to try and recover the leaves of the plant you already have.it may be possible if it's only just begun to flower. Cut it right back then wait and see! (It's worked for us this year already).
HerbExpert - 12-May-15 @ 11:36 AM
I have had the misfortune of growing what was originally a thriving plant, unfortunately the coriander has flowered, I realise I can collect the seeds as above but should I start again for this season please.
gp - 6-May-15 @ 9:54 AM
I planted mine yesterday n am greatful that now I'ave a clue..
Franc - 10-Aug-14 @ 1:00 PM
I had great success with a refill packet of coriander seed from the supermarket spice section. Here's how: Soaked about 20 seeds in water for an hour. Make a series of 1cm deep 'trenches' across the top of a large earth-filled garden container. Drop the seeds into the 'trench, one by one, spacing them about 1cm apart. Close thetrenches' and press the soil firmly down. Lightly spray with water to dampen the surface. Keep damp with a regular light spray.
My seeds started to sprout after about 10 days. The first two leaves are not true coriander leaves - they just get the plant going. Shortly after the true coriander leaves appear. Keep an eye out for snails - a great pest.
Red - 7-Jun-13 @ 9:43 PM
i planted coriander seeds in soil - after i thought nothing was happening (it had been two weeks) i saw something shoot up. needless to say iwas excited, but now tht the "very delicate-looking" plant has grown about 4 inches - it looks nothing like coriander! what have i done??the stem is thin and the blade is long
mariam - 24-May-12 @ 11:30 PM
I'm growing corriander in a popagatoron the kitchen windowsill and 10 out of 11 have emerged after almost 2 weeks!... BRILLIANT!!!
murph - 7-Apr-12 @ 10:14 AM
@DrAT - try growing some more and see if the same happens. Follow the packet instructions closely. If the same happens, perhaps you have been sold some poor quality seeds?
HerbExpert - 28-Sep-11 @ 10:17 AM
I have some healthy looking, 3 week old coriander. The plants are tall, with 2 long stalks to a seed, and just 2 leaves to each stalk. They look nothing like I expected. Should I wait, or start again?
DrAT - 25-Sep-11 @ 11:19 AM
Five times I've tried to grow coriander (including reputed "so to bolt" coriander), each time in a pot. Five times they have bolted to seed. In the sun, in the shade, it doesn't matter. I have given up in absolute frustration.
jceaser - 19-Jul-11 @ 2:43 AM
Hi I live in UAE(hot country!). I planted coriander seeds and after a couple of weeks I got these beautiful very small coriander leaves. But suddenly, before my plant could mature into big plant, it dried out and looks like it's totally dead now. Am not sure why it happened? I kept it at a place where it gets morning sunlight and not the harsh afternnoon sun.
Anu - 30-Apr-11 @ 2:15 PM
Hi Emma be patient, my corriander is only just comming through now and it's been a week, I planted the seeds about a centimeter deep and put them on sunny window ledge in the kitchen. Hope that helps, it is the first time I've grown them so really chuffed that something's actually growing.
Natalie - 4-Apr-11 @ 10:10 AM
My coriander leaves keep curling and dying. Why is this, they're on a window sill that isn't draughty and well watered.
Mel - 17-Mar-11 @ 8:16 PM
Well with planting seeds you have to wait, and there is not much you can do to speed it up. Did you know March is the month for sowing coriander ? Quite lucky there then. Chin up, and watch your seedlings grow don't give up :)
Charlie - 13-Mar-11 @ 10:46 AM
Thank you Charlie. But, I don't think I can wait. I just want those shoots to well shoot up so badly :(
Emma - 13-Mar-11 @ 10:44 AM
Be patient. I remember the first time I planted seeds, they too were coriander, I was devastated when no shoots appearedfor weeks. But, they slowly emerged and grew and grew. This is a fictional story however the moral remains the same. Be patient and you will rewarded.
Charlie - 13-Mar-11 @ 10:43 AM
I am 12 years old and this is the first time I have grew anything. Yesterday, I planted chillies, coriander and strawberry seeds in the hope that they would grow. I am quite impatient and after 2 days no signs of growing have occurred. I guess I'll have to wait a little longer than that. However, I'm not sure I grew them correctly, I did follow the instructions but I am slightly doubtful. Any tips or suggestions about how I can grow them would be much appreciated. Thanks.