Cilantro is not as easy on the palate (for some) as it is to grow. But if you wish to grow your own cilantro indoors, here are two ways you can do so.
Growing cilantro in hydroponics
The first method is hydroponics. Some cilantro plants are easier to grow in hydroponics like Calypso while others are more suited outdoors. However, in general, any type of cilantro should work in your hydroponic system.
To get started, you can choose to germinate cilantro seeds (at least five days before germination; keep them at a temperature of about 75 degrees), clone them hydroponically, or buy them from the store (often available and easily transported to hydroponics).
Following that, you need to get settled on a hydroponic system of choice. Almost any system is fine but one that offers accessibility for maintenance and picking is ideal.
Now we’re getting into the details.
The recommended temperature for hydroponic cilantro is between 45 and 70 degrees. Investing in a system with manual temperature controls would prove useful.
In terms of spacing needs, sowing them about nine to 12 inches apart should give your cilantro sufficient space for growth sideways for maximal production.
Your lighting options are wide; including HID, fluorescent, and LED grow lights. But a fluorescent grow light, left on for at least 12 hours daily, has the most productive outcome for cilantro growth. Furthermore, given that you only need the leaves of cilantro, it is unnecessary to get various grow lights for other stages of growth.
pH levels in any hydroponics are crucial for nutrients maintenance. The ideal pH level for hydroponics cilantro is 6.5. You can also add nutrients by purchasing supplements containing large amounts of nitrogen for a high quantity harvest. But if you’re concerned about taste, you should opt for a normal hydroponics nutrient mixture.
Harvesting hydroponics cilantro
After your cilantro is about five inches tall, you can harvest them by trimming the leaves off. Not only can this be done several times, but pruning it will also escalate growth rates.
After harvesting, you can either keep the cilantro in a bowl of water or in your fridge to preserve them.
Growing cilantro in soil
Similar to hydroponics, a cooler temperature and humid environment that is brightly lit will result in heavy vegetation. You should avoid stressing your cilantro out if you want to end up with leaves instead of flowers and seeds.
Planting cilantro indoors will benefit growers living in hot climates as you need to keep your cilantro growing at about 73 degrees. If you’re worried about lighting, there are plenty of indoor growing lights out there that you can go for. The grow light you choose should preferably be easy to implement and suitable for cilantro. That said, hang the lights high enough so that they don’t burn the leaves when they do grow out.
Before planting, note that you should sow your seeds into flats and keep them there from start to end as it will likely bloom if you were to transport it later. You know that your cilantro is about to flower when its leaves grow into a different shape.
Now you can start prepping by making some drainage holes on the base of the flat and rest it on another water-proof tray. This is an important step as watering it regularly is non-negotiable for this growing technique. Thereafter, get your medium mix of choice and fill up the flat. Feel free to add other supplements as well.
Although the spacing for soil-grown cilantro is not as generous as that in hydroponics, you should still ensure your seeds are reasonably spaced from each other for enough room to grow laterally. After sowing the seeds, don’t cover them with too much of your potting mixture otherwise they can’t grow out.
Invest in a propagator lid as it can keep the growing environment moist and ideal for germination. As the plant sprouts, you can slightly open the vents. Once they reach an inch in height, feel free to remove the lid. As a note of caution, leave about five inches between your grow light and the top of the propagator lid to prevent overheating.
It is also key to set your grow light to turn on for 18 hours daily. Growers who want to go the extra mile can also invest in a growing tent (which also prevents bug infestation) fitted with a thermometer and a cooling fan.
Harvesting soil-grown cilantro
Once you see some seedlings appear, water them regularly but in small doses for the first week. Keep the soil moist at all times unless you want root temperatures to rise and your cilantro seeds to bolt and grow flowers instead. If you don’t trust yourself to be disciplined enough to water them appropriately, you can always get an automatic watering system, although that will cost you some extra money you can otherwise save.
Thereafter, you should be irrigating your cilantro with about one-third of a gallon of water daily. As a rule of thumb, there should be about 20% of the water being drained. Also, be even in your application of the water so as to not miss out on any corners.
Some growers make the mistake of over-fertilizing their cilantro, thinking that more is better. Yes, you might have a lush, healthy-looking bush of cilantro by the time you harvest them. But the taste will be compromised. So your homegrown herb that is meant to zest up your favorite food ends up lacking in flavor. Basically, the moral of the story is to use fertilizer moderately.
After one month of planting those seeds, you should already have a flush of cilantro leaves. They will be relatively pale by now as nutrients would have been taken in quickly. If they lack taste, a little patience and extra soil mixture ought to do the trick. About 15 days later, the cilantro leaves are set to be harvested. It might not look as green as you would like at the end but the taste will be promising. That I can assure you!
If you want non-stop yielding of cilantro, you can start the whole process again right from the flat after three weeks. But really, it’s up to how much cilantro you eat.
Cilantro is a pretty hardy plant suitable for both soil and water medium for growth. As you can see, the requisites of growing cilantro in both ways are pretty similar. Depending on the resources available to you, your budget, and your preference, you can choose the technique you want to grow your cilantro by. Of course, growing them indoors is just an option. If you wish to grow them outside, you will need to conduct some further research. Whatever it is, good luck with your cultivation!