Growing coriander successfully


Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing coriander. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, cucurbits, garlic, ginger & turmeric, mint, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

corianderCoriander, also known as cilantro, is one of the easiest and most delicious herbs to grow in abundance. It is an extremely versatile plant with the leaves, stems, roots and mature seeds all being flavoursome and aromatic. It suits many different cooking styles, from garnishing pumpkin soup or to use in an Asian style dish.

Coriander is an annual and, despite its delicate, feathery look, is best planted from mid to late Autumn through to early Spring. Depending on when you plant, it will reach full abundance in the cold of winter through to late Spring. Avoid planting in late Spring as, with the hotter weather, it will bolt and run to seed before it can be used.

Grown this way, your coriander plant should last from three to 6 months and reach up to 75cm tall. It can be cut several times and will re-grow. Normally I would cut the plant back by half to use when it has reached about 40 cm, and leave it to grow again, then repeat the process maybe twice more. Other people prefer to harvest the whole plant, as the stems and roots have the strongest flavour.

Eventually the plant will ‘run to seed’ that is, grow a thick stalk, flower and produce seed. The seed can be harvested and used as a condiment; however, wait until the seed has dried, rather than use the green, unripe seed.

Seed or seedling?

Coriander is easily grown from seed, with the seed taking around 2 weeks to sprout above the ground. It can be direct sown, about 6mm deep (watch for slugs and snails mowing it down before you see it) or started in punnets then transplanted in 4-5 weeks.

If you prefer to purchase seedlings, these can be successfully transplanted; however, try not to disturb the roots too much when doing so, as this can set the plant back.

Coriander is best grown in a clump, so the plants provide support for each other.

Aspect and soil

Grow in a sunny position over Autumn, Winter and early Spring. If grown in warm weather, it will need some shade.

Prepare the soil as for other types of herbs (i.e. friable, well drained and fertilised) or, if growing in a pot, use a good quality potting mix and liquid fertilise every month or so.


Leaves can be snipped off as required, normally when the plant has reached at least 15cm. Alternatively, harvest the whole plant, or grow the plant to full maturity and wait for the seed to form and dry. Growing lots of coriander will give you all these options!


Dried seed can be kept for many years. Store in a tightly closed container in a dark cupboard.

Leaves/stems, once picked, can be kept in a jar full of water for about a week. A plastic bag over the top will prolong their freshness. Alternatively, coriander can be stored in a plastic bag for around 2 weeks in the fridge.

Coriander leaves can be frozen in freezer bags, however may be mushy once thawed. There are numerous ways of freezer storage, including in ice cubes and separating and laying each leaf flat prior. For those interested, internet research gives informative pictorials and methods.

And finally …

Look out for ‘slow bolting’ coriander – a variety with less propensity to go to seed early.

  20 Responses to “Growing coriander successfully”

  1. I’m in Gauteng and I love coriander. I plant it every spring and did not know I can plant it in winter as well. I always pick up the seeds and wait to plant it. Now it’s winter and I already have seeds. I am planting them tomorrow itself. This advice is the best I have ever come across. Thank you so much.

  2. Thanks for your wonderful insights. This page is really helpful.

  3. Thank you for your tips and advice, Helen.
    I’m currently going to try planting some store-bought coriander versus seeds my previous plants produced. Have a great week/weekend ahead. Happy gardening.

  4. I am in Melbourne east. I need the advice for pot growing coriander for home use. Please help with your technical method .

  5. I am wondering if you have some specific info on growing coriander

    1. Do you know the variety/name name of the coriander that is slow bolt?
    2. As I don’t live in Melbourne, I wish to create an artificial grow room in Outback QLD . What is the temp variation min n max?
    3. Do they like more acidic or alkaline soil (our bore water is currently 8.5)?
    4. How many hours a day sunlight /light will they need? Grow lights off n on will be used.
    5. Does it prefer sandy soil or wet compost.. we have clay but can adapt either?

    Thank you in advance if you are able to answer specifically some of these questions. I really appreciated the article and especially the comment that it’s easy to grow, it gives us all hope. A wonderful article,


    • 1. It’s commonly known as ‘slow bolting coriander’ and the seed is readily available from seed suppliers under this name.

      2. Coriander prefers cooler conditions – it can go as low as –4 degrees C, and I’d try to keep the maximum under 20 degrees C, or it might go to seed.

      3. Coriander grows best in mildly acidic or mildly alkaline soil, ideally around 6.5 to 7.5 ph. You may find your bore water too alkaline.

      4. I’d recommend 4 – 5 hours of sunlight that isn’t too intense.

      5. Best in rich, well drained loam.

  6. Thanks for the advice! I wonder if we need to thin them though, because I put 3 seeds per hole in a seedling tray and most of them are growing now. Looking forward to hearing from you guys! 🙂

  7. I have always lightly pestle and mortared my seed before sewing. This splits the the two seeds within the capsule apart and means the seed is then in direct contact with moisture/ soil. You can do it with your fingers as an alternative.

  8. Hi Helen,
    Thanks for your growing tips. Do you recommend soaking seeds prior to direct sewing?

  9. Thanks Helen for your advice. I live in Maryborough (ex melb) and have attempted for the first time to grow coriander. Started off well and then …….. I will certainly being growing again in Autumn and protect it from the winter frosts!

  10. Me and many people I know have had a problem with coriander bolting to seed with practically no leaf. I am in Melbourne so I think I must try the summer shaded suggestion. I think perhaps growing in a pot may be a good idea. I love the leaf and it is an essential ingredient for a great Mexican SALSA (hot sauce).

    • Hi Gregory,

      Problems with coriander bolting is why many of us in Melbourne now grow it as a Winter crop.

    • Coriander bolts due to the length of nights, not due to shade / water issues necessarily, which is why we plant it once nights get longer again in autumn. Like some other plants, it’s just “programmed” that way.

  11. It’s a pity it’s not around for longer.

  12. I planted my coriander about 3 weeks ago and it’s already looking great growing in a pot in the kitchen.

  13. I will try this weekend itself. Same as previous comments, I also have been unsuccessful at getting healthy coriander plants. Hope this time it’ll work.

  14. This is very helpful. I’ve alway been unsuccessful in growing coriander. Reckon this will now change!

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