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Coriander (or cilantro) is kind of like Vegemite – you either love it or you hate it.

For those who love it, though, knowing how to grow coriander is a useful skill. Keeping your own edible herbs can save you a quick buck and ensure you’ve got some on hand whenever you’re cooking.

Growing coriander is tricky, though. Even small changes in the environment – especially heat – cause the plant to “bolt,” turning the leaves bitter. 

It’s best to grow coriander from seed (either in a pot or in the ground) with consistently moist soil and cool temperatures.

Coriander is a fickle plant – you can only harvest the leaves for a short time, and after coriander flowering, you can only use the seeds for cooking. But those who love that sharp, herby taste can take on the challenge!

What to Know Before Growing Coriander | How to Grow Coriander IndoorsHow to Grow Coriander Outdoors | Germinating Coriander Seeds Fast | How to Harvest Coriander | How to Store Coriander


About the Coriander Plant

The Coriandrum sativum plant is just as popular a herb as it is divisive. The leaves add a refreshing bite to many dishes, while the seeds are a key spice for foods such as curries.

Coriander is part of the Apiaceae family, so it’s a cousin to celery and parsley. It’s popular in Asian, Mexican, and South American dishes.

It has a long history as a medicinal herb and culinary spice. Supposedly, coriander is great for digestion and is a great antioxidant. It may have even been used as a food poisoning remedy.

The coriander plant is a fast-growing herb with multiple stems. Young plants feature stems with green leaves in a distinctive fan shape and feathery edges. Older stems will flop over as they’re quite weak.


Cilantro vs. Coriander

Coriander leaves, fresh green cilantro on wooden background

Yes – coriander and cilantro are the same plant. Here down under, the leaves are called coriander, and the seeds are coriander seeds.

In North and South America, and some parts of Asia, they refer to the leaves as “cilantro.” Then the seeds are coriander or coriander seeds.

“Cilantro” is a Spanish term, hence the term’s popularity across the American continents and parts of Asia. 

Some other countries have their own terms, though – for example, it’s “wansoy” in Tagalog (Philippines) and “dhaniya” in Hindi (India).

There’s a similar Chinese herb called Chinese celery or kinchay. It resembles cilantro leaves but doesn’t have the distinctive leaf curls. It also has a more citrusy taste.


Why Don’t I Like Coriander?

For some people, coriander adds an important flavour to salsa and salads. But for other people, coriander is a detestable plant that tastes like soap.

Reportedly, if you can’t stand the taste of coriander, it has to do with your genes – specifically in your smell and taste receptors. And these genes are more common where the plant isn’t endemic or commonly used.


What to Know Before Growing Your Coriander Plants

Coriander is a versatile herb, and having fresh leaves can make a lot of difference in cooking. 

If you’re planning on harvesting coriander leaves, ready your patience.


When to plant coriander in Australia

Coriander in the Garden

You can plant coriander year-round, but if you want tasty leaves, it’s best grown during spring or autumn.

Heat triggers flowering and could cause the plant to “bolt” – meaning the flavour will change and turn bitter. The cooler season of autumn will help.

For the best chance at coriander leaves, “stagger” your planting. Germinate a handful of seeds every few weeks beginning in May so you can have a continuous supply.

Once autumn is over, the next best time to grow coriander is in early spring, starting in September.


Can you plant coriander in the summer?

Yes – but you likely won’t have any usable leaves for cooking. You’ll get plenty of seeds, though, which you can either use for dishes or save for future plants!

During summer, the plant will produce tiny white or pale pink flowers that will turn into small fruit. Those fruits will quickly “set seed” (bolting).


Where to plant coriander

You can grow coriander both indoors and outdoors – just know that if you’re planting outdoors, it should be in a cool spot, out of the wind.

Coriander is best grown in garden beds or containers.


How long does coriander take to grow?

An elderly woman holds a bunch of healthy cilantro herb grown in her own garden in her hands

Coriander grows quickly – you’ll usually have plants ready to harvest in three to four weeks.

Check your local garden centres, though, as some may sell “slow-bolt” or “no-bolt” varieties that don’t flower as quickly. These can take up to six weeks to grow.


What coriander variety should I grow?

See what your local supermarket or garden centre has in stock. Slow-bolt types are best since they are less likely or take longer to set seed, meaning they have a longer “leafy period.”

Some varieties to try are Calypso, a British-bred cultivar; and Leafy Leisure, a vigorous cultivar producing masses of leaves.


How to Grow Coriander Indoors

Coriander variety Calypso growing indoors in a terracotta coloured plastic bowl

Growing coriander indoors is a balancing act. 

You’ll need to limit the “stress” the plant experiences, and control conditions such as temperature and moisture.


Conditions for growing coriander indoors

Place your coriander plants where they get bright, indirect sunlight – about 5 to 6 hours a day. A grow light will also work fine.

Keep them out of the wind and away from drafts.

Coriander does not like too little or too much humidity. If the weather is cool and dry, though, you can lightly mist the plants or set the pots on a tray with rocks and water.


How to grow coriander from seeds indoors

coriander seeds

The best way to grow coriander is from seed – this way, you don’t disturb the delicate tap root.

Choose a pot that’s at least 30cm deep to accommodate the roots. For width, you can opt for anywhere between 15-45cm. Make sure it has drainage holes.

Use a premium potting mix, ideally one for edible plants. A blend of vermiculite and compost works well.

Sow seeds a few centimetres apart and about 3 times deeper than the size of the seed. Then water regularly – but avoid soaking the potting mix.

Place the pot where it gets indirect sunlight. You can cover the pot with some plastic wrap to trap moisture.

As the seedlings begin to grow, thin out your plants to keep only the most robust seedlings.

Check soil moisture to make sure the pot isn’t drying out. Stick a finger in up to the first knuckle – if the soil is dry, it’s time to water.

After about 3-4 weeks, your Coriandrum sativum leaves should be ready for harvest.

You can also choose to transfer the whole plant outdoors once it’s matured, but only during spring or autumn. The temperature should be between 16º-26ºC.


How to grow coriander in water indoors

You can also grow coriander in a hydroponic (meaning water) setup at home. You’ll need a good amount of organic seeds.

Start by getting a colander (preferably plastic) and a bowl that’s slightly bigger. Line the colander with one or two paper towels.

Scatter the coriander seeds inside the colander, then cover them with another moist paper towel.

Fill half the other bowl with water, then set the colander (with the seeds) inside. Place the setup where it gets about 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight a day, in a warm area.

Change the water regularly – about once a week (or earlier, if you see it’s getting cloudy). The seeds should start to germinate in a few days.

Note that this may not be as successful as growing the plant in soil or potting mix. Coriander doesn’t like getting waterlogged, so it’s important that the seeds aren’t submerged – just moistened.


Seedlings of cilantro on the windowsill in a container.


Coriander Outdoor Growing Conditions

Most people choose to grow coriander indoors since it’s easier to control the temperature and growing conditions. 

However, you can also choose to grow your plants outdoors.



How much sun does coriander need? In temperate to moderate regions, you can grow coriander where it gets full sun for about 6 hours. For tropical and subtropical climates, it’s best grown in light shade.

Note that direct sunlight may cause your plants to set seed or produce seed heads quicker!



Coriander likes moist soil, but doesn’t like to be soaked. The plant has deep roots, so it’s susceptible to root rot in poor-draining soil or overwatering.

When the top centimetre or so of soil is dry, it’s time to water.



gardening, Coriander seedlings

Your coriander plants can tolerate most soils except clay, which retains too much moisture. You’ll need well-drained soil whether you’re growing outdoors or in a premium potting mix.

If possible, go with soil that’s very slightly acidic – about 6.2 to 6.8 on the pH scale.



Coriander prefers warm temperate and temperate conditions, especially in the warm seasons. It will tolerate only minimal frost.

However, you can grow coriander in tropical and subtropical climates during cooler seasons (like spring or autumn).

Ideal temperatures for coriander plants range from 16º-26ºC if you want a regular supply of leaves. Any higher and you should bring your plants indoors or you’ll only have usable seeds.


How to Grow Coriander Seeds Outdoors

If you’re growing coriander outdoors, your best bet is in a vegetable plot or container bed. Opt for airy and well-drained soil, ideally mixed with perlite.

When planting in autumn, choose a spot under full sun. But if planting from late spring to summer, choose a spot in light shade.

Sow seeds thinly – about 6-10mm deep and 20cm apart. Water the bed well and maintain consistent soil moisture without waterlogging.

The seeds should start to germinate in 7-20 days. Thin out young plants to about 25-30cm apart.

Take note that outdoors, coriander plants are vulnerable to slugs and snails. You can “shield” your coriander by planting other plants around it that are taller to provide natural pest and sun protection.

Some great companion plants for coriander include basil, tomatoes, potatoes, and leafy greens.

Speak with a gardening professional about the best setup for coriander in your garden beds or containers!

Cilantro, parsley, dill and lettuce in seedbed. Vegetable garden.


How to Germinate Coriander Seeds Fast

You can’t grow coriander in 3 days, but you can germinate the seeds quickly.

Soak the seeds overnight to soften the outer cover. In the morning, toss out any seeds that float – those aren’t viable.

Spread the soaked seeds over some paper towels, then cover them with another layer. Lightly mist the paper towels with water.

Place the seeds in a plastic bag or box in a dark and warm location – ideally above 15ºC.

The seeds should start to sprout in 2-3 days, after which you can plant them in a pot or the ground.


Can You Grow Coriander from Cuttings?

It’s possible, but has a lower success rate. Coriander or cilantro does not like too much moisture, so the cuttings might not propagate.

Prune off some coriander stems (either from your own plant or a bunch from the store). Trim them to about 7-8cm long and remove any lower leaves.

Fill a small glass or jar with water. Place the stems in water, and set the container somewhere it gets bright, indirect light.

Wait for the roots to reach about 3cm (about 2 weeks) before transferring them to a pot.


How to Harvest Coriander

An elderly woman cuts and harvests coriander plants grown in a greenhouse.

You’ll have a very short window for harvesting coriander leaves before the plants set seed.

You can start picking your coriander after about 3-4 weeks – when the leaves are bright green and stems are between 10-15cm tall.

To pick coriander leaves, snip off the whole stem at the base using clean scissors. Harvest the outermost stems first, leaving the younger ones to develop.

Do not harvest more than 30% of the plant at a time. The stems will begin to regrow over the next few days.

After 45 days, your coriander plants will begin flowering, then set seed. Once you see the plant beginning to wilt, uproot it and remove the seed heads.

Tie the seed heads in a paper bag, and hang it upside down to dry them out. After a few weeks, you can shake the seeds out. Use them for cooking, or wait a week or two then plant then again.


How to Store Coriander

Keep coriander leaves in a resealable bag placed in your fruit and veggie fridge drawer. They should last you about 2 weeks.

For coriander seeds, store them in an airtight container. You can use them whole or crushed into powder.

At the end of the growing season, chop a large bunch of leaves and mince them finely. Place them in a resealable bag in the freezer – you can use them for curries or stews.


Tips for Growing Coriander

While your young plants are growing, periodically pinch the stems by a few centimetres. This will encourage fuller plants and a longer harvest.

Stagger your planting by sowing seeds every few weeks. This ensures you have a constant supply so long as the weather is good.

Coriander is very sensitive to temperature. Be mindful if the weather is getting warmer (27ºC and up) – you’ll want to harvest before your plants bolt.

Try to avoid repotting or transplanting your coriander seedlings (or at least, only do it once). The tap root is delicate and can cause bolting or rot with even slight disruptions.

Instead, it’s best to sow seeds directly into the pot or the ground.

Coriander doesn’t really need fertiliser, but you can use a seaweed-based one if needed. This type is best since it’s low in potassium, which can cause early flowering.

Be patient and understanding of your coriander plants. Even if you know how to grow coriander, things like the weather are out of your control.

Growing Coriandrum sativum isn’t exactly trouble-free, but if you love that refreshing taste, the effort is worth it!

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.