Cilantro leaves have the best flavor when used fresh.

How to Germinate Cilantro

by Jenny Harrington

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) rewards the patient gardener with flavorful foliage and edible seeds, called coriander. Although the seeds are slow to germinate, the plant grows quickly and the first leaves are ready for harvest in as little 30 days. The seeds take about three months to develop. Cilantro grows during frost-free but cool weather, making it suitable as a spring or fall crop. The roots don't tolerate transplanting well, but you can still germinate the seeds indoors by taking the proper precautions.

Fill 2-inch-diameter peat pots with a moist, sterile potting mixture. Peat pots decompose in the garden bed after transplanting so you don't have to remove the pot and disturb the cilantro roots when you plant it outdoors.

Sow two cilantro seeds 1/2 inch deep in each pot. Mist the soil surface with water to moisten and settle it after sowing.

Set the pots in a drainage tray. Slide the tray of pots into a plastic bag, and seal it closed so it can retain the soil moisture during germination.

Place the tray in a location where temperatures are between 55 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure best germination. The seeds may take up to 21 days to germinate. Water the soil only if it dries out inside the bag before germination.

Remove the bag once the cilantro sprouts. Move the plants so they receive six hours or more of daily sun and maintain the cool temperatures. Water the plants when the soil surface dries.

Items you will need

  • Peat pots
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Drainage tray
  • Plastic bag


  • Transplant the cilantro to the garden when the plants are 4 to 6 weeks old and after frost danger has passed. Bury the peat pots in the bed so the rim is just beneath the soil surface, and space the plants 2 inches apart for leaf production or 8 inches apart for seed production.
  • You can sow the seeds directly in the garden about three weeks after the last spring frost, but the seeds germinate more quickly when sown indoors where you can manage temperature and moisture.

About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images