Despite being a rather small and unremarkable-looking plant, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is one of the most polarizing herbs I know. This is because of a genetic mutation that occurs in humans, causing the compounds of the plant to taste soapy (yuk!). My mother has this mutation, and it results in her asking every waiter who has ever served her “does this dish have cilantro?” so she can avoid it at all costs. I, on the other hand, love the stuff!
Whether you love it or hate it, if you are trying to grow cilantro in your garden, you need to know how to take care of it. Water is one of the most essential things you can provide a plant, and knowing how often water your cilantro plant will ensure you can keep it happy and healthy.
Although watering frequency might seem straightforward and easy, it can actually be a fairly tricky aspect of plant care to nail down. By following the guidelines below, you will be able to find the “sweet spot” between too much and too little water, allowing your cilantro plants to thrive!
How Often to Water Cilantro Outdoors
Cilantro is a herb that prefers cool, moist conditions. Although it will grow fast in full sun, it will be prone to bolting (going to seed) much sooner and will require more frequent watering. An ideal spot for your plant is in light shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day, with enough water to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Gauging how often to water your cilantro plant can be tricky, especially when the soil, temperature, and sun exposure of your plant are unique to your growing location. As a general rule of thumb, cilantro plants outdoors should be watered every 2-3 days in warm, dry conditions, and every 4-5 days in cooler, or more humid weather. The best way to test if your plant needs water is to insert your finger into the soil about 1-2 inches. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your plant.
You also want to make sure to always water your plant (no matter where it is planted) at the base, rather than letting the leaves get soaked.
How Often to Water Cilantro in a Pot
Cilantro grown outdoors in a pot is a great way to control how much sun your plant gets. During the peak heat of the day, it is easy to relocate your potted cilantro to a shady part of your yard, protecting it from the sun.
Growing your cilantro in a pot also helps you easily estimate how much water is available to the plant. Take note of how heavy the pot is just after a thorough watering, and again a couple of days later. Your potted plant will likely require more watering than those in the ground since the soil is above ground level and exposed to higher temperatures and more direct sunlight. Aim to water your plant every 2 days or so, using your fingers to test the soil dryness or lifting the pot to estimate how much water remains in the soil for your plant.
You may think that taking care of cilantro indoors is easier than outside, but growing plants inside comes with its own realm of complexities. If your plant is overwatered, it will be prone to issues like root rot and other diseases, while underwatering will cause your cilantro to wilt and slowly dry up.
Just like when growing outside, how often you should water your cilantro plant is specific to the conditions where you grow it, including the temperature and humidity in your home, the size of the pot, where your plant is placed, and how much sun it gets. For example, if your plant is in a smaller pot, directly in a sunny window where temperatures are higher, you will need to water your plant quite frequently. Alternatively, if your cilantro is in a larger pot (which has more potting soil to hold water for longer after watering) in a cooler area and doesn’t get as much direct sun, you can likely water less often.
In general, water your indoor potted cilantro every 3-4 days, checking frequently for the moisture content of your plant by poking into the top of the soil with your finger. After watering, allow the water to fully drain from the bottom of the pot to avoid issues like root rot, caused by letting the roots sit in standing water for extended periods.
Taking Care of Cilantro Seeds and Seedlings
Knowing how often to water freshly planted cilantro seeds can mean the difference between successful germination and a soggy, soil mess. Cilantro seeds typically take 7-10 days to germinate, so it is important to keep conditions optimal during this time to ensure your seeds sprout.
You will want to keep the seeds consistently moist until this happens, so checking your seeds daily is essential. To play it safe, you might consider watering the seeds daily with just a little water. This is a good option, but ensure that your seeds don’t sit in water. The soil should absorb the water quickly each time, if it pools on top of the soil, your plants are overwatered.
Alternatively, you can place your seeds in a humid environment to help them sprout. This might be an indoor greenhouse or terrarium, or as easy as placing the pots inside an open plastic bag to trap moisture. Be sure to check the bag regularly for issues like mold or mildew that can harm your plants.
Once your seeds sprout, you will want to make sure you water the cilantro seedlings the appropriate amount. Seedlings don’t need to be kept consistently moist, like seeds, so you can begin to reduce the amount of watering as soon as they start to grow leaves. If you are watering your cilantro seedlings every day, start by switching to every other day, and then eventually every 3 days, as long as the soil in the pots stays moist between waterings. Check the soil moisture with your fingers and allow extra water to drain away properly to avoid any issues with your new plants.
In conclusion, watering cilantro properly is a crucial aspect of successful cilantro and other growing herbs. The key is to find the right balance, checking for moisture regularly and adjusting accordingly. By following these tips, you will be able to enjoy the flavourful leaves of your plant as it produces a bountiful harvest.
Let’s read into detail what seeds to start in January.