Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Cilantro is a popular spice in West Texas since it is widely used in Mexican food. People either love it (my husband and me) or they can’t stand it (my daughter). Most people who don’t like it say that it tastes like soap to them.
September will be time for the second planting of cilantro this year. Since it is a cool-season crop that does best in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees, your first planting should have been in February for April harvest. The September planting will be ready to begin harvesting in November. Weekly succession planting will ensure you have a continuing crop.
There are three varieties of this plant: Long Standing, Leisure and Slo Bolt. The fresh green leaves are used in many dishes, including Mexican and Thai food, and are a great addition to salads, soups and salsa. When the plants bolt the seeds are referred to as coriander which has a flavor similar to an orange. Coriander adds flavor to cooked fruit, pastries and pickling spice.
Cilantro needs a well-drained fertile loam soil. Plant the seeds ¼ to ½” deep, two inches apart in rows that are 15 inches apart. It is critical that it be kept moist during germination until the plants are established. You can reduce watering once established.
Harvesting can begin about 45 days after seeding. To harvest locate the main stem and cut the stem just above other growth on the plant. This will stimulate the plant to continue producing.
Cilantro should be fertilized twice during its growing season. Apply ½ teaspoon of 34-0-0 or 21-0-0 per square foot.
Once temperatures exceed 85 degrees the plant will bolt and produce coriander seeds which can be harvested and stored for cooking or replanting in February.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.