Cilantro – a healthy and aromatic herb to add to your kitchen garden. Simple, refreshing, beautiful, tasty and with a very pleasing odor!
Coriander, (cilantro in Spanish translation) botanically known as Coriandrum sativum, in the family Apiaceae contains 3700 species including the carrots, celery, and parsley. It is also called by other names like Cilantro, Dhaniya and Chinese parsley.
Cilantro is indigenous to Mediterranean countries and today countries like Romania, Morocco, and Egypt fulfill the commercial supply.
What do you think cilantro is categorized as? A herb or a spice?
Well, actually both.
If we make use of the leaves and stem it is a herb and if we use only seeds we can call it a spice.
Cilantro is mostly used for seasoning purpose (Ex. Flavouring and garnishing of curries and soups). Any Indian dish will feel incomplete without the addition of this herb. It adds life to the dish not only by taste, also with its high aroma and bright green color.
Constituents of cilantro:
A wonderful source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, and iron. In addition, leaves are rich in Vitamin-C, Vitamin-K, and protein. It also contains trace amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine (Vit-B1), niacin (Vit-B3) and carotene.
- Consumption of cilantro lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body and increases the good cholesterol level (HDL)
- Enhances the liver function and bowels movement
- Coriander is good diabetic patients as it stimulates the insulin production and regulates the blood sugar level
- Helps in curing the skin related problems
- It has got essential oils like linalool, geraniol, camphor, and acids like linoleic acid, ascorbic acid, palmitic acid, umbelliferone and in fruit, it contains fatty acids.
A soft, bright green, shining plant, generally grows to a height of 25-50 cm or even 90 cm (2-3 ft), when grown with complete care. Leaves are in various shapes and lobed at the base.
We can see beautiful white or pale pink flowers grows like bunch called as ‘Umbels’, further develop seeds, which are globular in shape and are called as ‘Schizocarp’.
How to grow them?
Cilantro is grown with seeds. They can be grown in beds or pots and take well to soil-less growing and advanced techniques like hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. They grow well in autumn, winter and spring season with full sunlight, they can also be grown in summer with partial shade.
- Grow Medium: use a medium with good draining capabilities to drain out excess water. If using cocopeat, mix it 40% with gravel or clay pellets to ensure good drainage.
- Seeds: use fresh, quality seeds, as old seeds may not germinate. (Note: whole seeds will not germinate well, so the seeds are split into halves before sowing for good germination)
- pH: 6-7, almost neutral pH. Check for soil and water pH before use
- Spacing: If you want, go for spacing of 20×15 cm or place them 1cm deep randomly and cover with the soil/media.
- Watering: it is important to keep them moist always, but do not over water. Never dry out the plants as it leads to faster bolting of plants.
- Fertilizers: it needs nitrogenous fertilizers which are high in Nitrogen content and low in Phosphorus. CG Greens can be a good nutrient for growing Cilantro.
- Pest and disease: Pests like aphids and leafhoppers can be seen. Go for neem oil sprays to control them. A fungal disease may be noticed if plants are over watered.
- When and how to harvest: Plants will be ready to harvest by 30-40 days after sowing. You can harvest the whole plant once or can cut and use only leaves from the base of the plant. Best flavor comes from the younger leaves. Snip off the flowers as and when you notice so that plant will give you some more green leaves.
Coriander seed oil:
Coriander seed oil is highly aromatic and acts as a carminative (relieving flatulence). Oil cures all tummy related troubles and acts as an appetizer, the digestive stimulant in stomach and intestine.
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Sushma completed her B. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Hiriyur and M. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Bengaluru. She is an avid gardener with expertise across soil based and soilless gardening techniques using substrates.