How to Grow Cilantro…And Stop It From BOLTING!
Cilantro is one of those plants that we love to grow and eat in summer, but doesn’t really do that well in summer. Today, I’m going to show you exactly how to have incredible success with your cilantro. I have cilantro in every single stage of its growth, legitimately from seed to seedling, to fresh, ready to use, to bolted, to even producing new seeds.
How do you prevent the bolting of cilantro? How do you make sure that if it does bolt, you still know exactly what to do with it, and there is a lot you can do with it. So cultivate that like button and I will prevent your cilantro bolting by 20 days.
Let’s talk first about some quick basics on cilantro, also known as coriander. So it’s really popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, really popular in Mexican cuisine, all sorts of different culinary uses. And it’s commonly referred to as both cilantro and coriander here in America, we typically will call cilantro the leaves and coriander the seeds, the dried seeds that you can grind up and use as spices.
Of course, you can also plant them and germinate them and grow cilantro or coriander. Some places it’s just called coriander as a blanket statement.
So that’s just a little factoid to know. Another thing to know is some people really hate the taste of cilantro or coriander. They think it tastes like soap. If that’s you, it’s actually really not your fault. That’s a genetic thing. So you can’t really do much about it unfortunately. However, you can still grow it for someone in your family that does like cilantro. For cilantro varieties there’s a couple that I really like the first one is going to be Calypso. And then you also have Slow Bolt. I’ll give you a really quick hit on what cilantro seeds look like because they are one of the weirder looking seeds that you’ll ever see. It sort of looks like a little miniature lemon or pumpkin or melon or something like that. And they’re very lightweight.
I have some young seedlings that have already been germinated, but what I’m going to do is do the direct sowing method that I like to use. This is definitely one of those plants that I would prefer to direct sow because they don’t take super well to a transplant, I’m going to go pretty aggressive on my spacing. I’m going to harvest this aggressively as well. So I don’t need to get too crazy on my spacing, but the reason why is because cilantro, it’s got kind of a sensitive taproot and it doesn’t want to be disturbed too much, much in the same way you wouldn’t typically transplant I don’t know, carrots or beets or radishes.
Not that you can’t, you definitely can, but I would say in general, it’s a better idea not to. And that’s really all there is to it. I put two in per hole, the Slow Bolt variety. We’re going to cover that up and water it in.
And that’s really all there is to it as far as germinating, cilantro can take a little bit of time to germinate. And I do know that it likes to have evenly moist soil, kind of the similar approach to maybe a carrot. So I just sow my cilantro in about a week, 7 to 10 days.
If you’re harvesting it for its fresh leaves, you just come through clip them. And then the final stage or close to the final stage when it bolts. Growing conditions wise. The interesting thing about cilantro, I don’t know why it is, but we like to use it in summer dishes like salsas and stuff like that, but it really doesn’t grow that well in summer.
Generally it’s going to bolt. If temperatures get consistently above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or receives a ton of light and heat throughout the day, that’s its natural response.
You can’t do too too much to prevent that, but there are a lot of things you can do to mitigate and work around that. The first of course, being just growing it in the seasons that it performs well. So spring, fall, those shoulder seasons into summer and leaving summer, it can work really, really well in.
You can also just plant it in an area that does get a bit of partial sun, even if it is in the summer.
I think if you were really optimizing the placement of this, you would give it protection during the mid-afternoon. So maybe from 12 to 3 or so, that’s going to be where the heat will spike the most. So you can keep the temperatures down just a little bit by shading it out in the afternoon.
Let’s talk about some other strategies to avoid bolting or at least slow it down. There’s a lot of different ways that you can do this. So it is the number one problem with cilantro, but there’s a lot that you can do.
So here’s one thing you can do it’s very easy. If you see a flowering stem start to come up, go all the way down to the base. And just snip that off. You can use this in stocks and stews and stuff. If you want, you can throw it in the compost.
Doesn’t really matter. The whole point is to just get it off as soon as possible.
Once it starts to bolt, it really just kind of wants to bolt. So this will stop it for, I don’t know, a week or so. One thing you can do for your cilantro to prevent bolting besides taking off all the flowering tips is to never even let it get to that point in the first place by harvesting it.
Prevent the flower stalks from even forming, get a nice continual harvest.
Now we have to talk about why it’s not even that bad if your cilantro does bolt. Pollinators need a little pad to land on. Hover flies will come. Bees will come. All sorts of things. You’ll see ladybug larva spawning. It’s really good for that.
Remember at the beginning, when I told you that it’s known as cilantro and coriander. Well, that second word is one of the reasons why allowing it to bolt isn’t such a big deal.
Coriander, I would say a little bit more fragrant. The cilantro has that sort of peppery sort of spicy thing that’s going on. This is a little bit more floral and fragrant. It’s a great garnish. It’s a great little thing to add in to a salad, to a soup, to preserves.
You can pickle it. You can do all sorts of stuff with it and you can also just let the cilantro completely bolt out. You can let it flower. You can let it produce coriander, let the coriander dry, and then use that as a ground spice, use that as a pickled spice or just use it to start more cilantro next year. So it’s really not a huge deal to let it bolt.
Of course you have all the strategies you need if you just want to eat the leaves. A lot of versatility in this plant, even though I know a lot of you struggle with it.
So hopefully this has been a helpful guide. Like I said, a lot of strategies to prevent the bolting, but a lot of just interesting things you can do with cilantro in general and ways to grow it, no matter where you live.