If you’re short on open gardening space, or you prefer the more precise control of moving your plants when you need to, then container gardening of cilantro is easy. You can decide just how many plants you want to maintain; you can even plant a few containers a few weeks apart to have a steady supply of cilantro for all your cooking needs.
Cilantro can flourish in containers. And depending on where you live, your plant can spend much of its time outside, as long as it’s frost-free, has some shade, and it gets everything else it needs.
The secret to successfully growing cilantro in containers is to have good light, a comfortable temperature, healthy soil, and consistent water. Hit all those targets and your container-grown cilantro plant will be just fine!
The Right Sunlight for Cilantro
Cilantro needs six to eight hours of sunlight each day to flourish. The cilantro herb prefers diffuse sun and some shade during the hottest part of the day. Locate cilantro containers in a place where they will get some shade naturally, or move them to a shady spot when the sun beats down. If your cilantro plants are indoors, place them in a sunny window with filtered light or some shade. Cilantro prefers cool temperatures and will go to seed quickly when temperatures rise above 75 degrees F. Many gardeners plant multiple crops of cilantro from spring to fall to extend the season.
Watering Your Container Cilantro Plants
Keep your cilantro plant’s soil moist, but not soggy. Water every few days as needed while your seedlings are getting established, but don’t allow water to pool around your plants. As the plants grow, check the soil’s moisture level periodically. You can use something as basic as a pencil or your finger to poke down into the soil to see where the moisture is. If the first inch of soil is dry or if the leaves start to look droopy, give your cilantro a drink. Cilantro does not like humidity, which is why it grows best in the spring and fall. If your region has low humidity, your cilantro might be fine through the summer so long as the temperatures don’t get too high. But if your environment is especially humid in the summer, plan for spring and fall planting.
The Right Soil for Your Container Cilantro
Cilantro thrives on loamy, well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH between 6.2 and 6.8. When planting cilantro in the garden, prepare your soil with organic matter such as manure or compost. Cilantro does not need much fertilizer, but you can add a little liquid fertilizer when your seedlings are about 2 inches high.
Make sure your soil is clean, weed-free, and nutrient-rich. Don’t reuse last season’s soil. It will be much better for your cilantro if you start with fresh gardening soil—there’s even soil formulated especially for container gardening. And make sure your containers have good drainage; soggy soil can lead to root rot, which can spell disaster for your cilantro plants.
Have you grown cilantro in containers? Do you put them outside for part of the year, or grow them indoors year-round? Please tell us about your successes and challenges growing cilantro in containers.