Cilantro, or coriander as it’s sometimes known, is a herb that is frequently used in Asian and South American cuisines, but enjoyed worldwide.
With a vibrant and fresh flavor, cilantro is one of the most popular herbs to grow in the AeroGarden hydroponic gardens.
In this article, I describe how to grow and harvest your cilantro seeds, and some of the buying options available for the AeroGarden smart garden. You’ll be glad to know you can grow cilantro with tremendous success with any AeroGarden kits: Sprout, Harvest, Bounty, and AeroGarden Farm kits.
- Related Article: Best Things To Grow In An AeroGarden
1. Pick and Plant Cilantro Seeds – Seed Pod Kits
There are a variety of types of cilantro, which includes:
- California Long Standing
And many more.
The type used in the Aerogarden system is the common variety, sometimes known as Chinese Cilantro or Mexican Parsley.
AeroGarden does not supply specific cilantro seed pods and kits. However, there are a few ways to purchase and grow your own cilantro with the Aerogarden systems.
- Cilantro pods are included in the Medicinal Herb Selection that Aerogarden supplies.
- AeroGarden has a Custom Herb Seed Pod Kit where cilantro herbs seeds are offered as a choice. If you fancy a whole harvest of fresh cilantro leaves you can select it multiple times.
- Purchase Cilantro seeds separately and use the AeroGarden Grow Anything Kits to grow them.
Planting your Cilantro Seeds
If you purchased a Grow Anything Kit and seeds separately, the first thing you will need to do is place the seeds in the AeroGarden grow sponges. There is a hole at the top of the sponge for inserting them. It is recommended you place three seeds into each pod, as they are not all likely to germinate.
The rest of the instructions are the same for both Grow Anything kits and prepared kits. The details of these steps are listed below.
- Step 1 – Fill the AeroGarden container with water, cool tap water or distilled water, careful not to overfill with an excess of water past the ‘Fill to Here’ indicator.
- Step 2 – Place and press your seed pods into a slot in your unit. This may take a bit of pressure, if you are not using all slots, then space the plants out evenly. Place grow domes over each of the pods.
- Step 3 – Add plant nutrient mix, instructions for correct nutrients amounts are listed on the bottle. It is important not to overfeed the plants either, adding extra nutrients can lead to yellow or brown leaves.
With the growth of cilantro, patience is required. The germination of cilantro can take as long as four to five weeks on the long end. Although, normally cilantro her plants do germinate quicker than this.
See my growing and harvesting tips and tricks later in the article for some great tip to speed this process up.
2. Growing and Tending to Cilantro
In this section, I will talk you through the process of bringing your seedlings to fruition. Cilantro isn’t the easiest plant to grow, so care is required.
From seed to harvest, the process is made simple by the AeroGarden system. But as with all plants, careful tending and nurturing will go a long way to ensuring a successful harvest.
The seedlings should be kept inside their dome until they are touching the top of it. After this, the dome can be removed and the real growing process begins.
At this point, keep the grow lights as close to the plants as possible without touching them, and adjusting higher as the cilantro grows.
However, bear in mind that Cilantro is sensitive to temperatures and does best grown in temperatures between 45° F and 85° F, so if necessary, lift the lights if the temperature begins to climb.
Timeline for Cilantro Growth
I mentioned earlier that it can take some time for the seeds to germinate, so don’t despair it you haven’t seen any sign of germination in the first couple of weeks or so.
However, it’s also possible that the cilantro seeds will germinate sooner than this, look for signs from 7 – 10 days onwards.
Once germinated they usually take somewhere between 40 – 50 days before the leaves shows signs of cilantro ready to be harvested. So, depending on the germination time, your cilantro herb plants should be providing a supply of cilantro ready for harvesting between 50 and 80 days.
Environmental Conditions for Cilantro
I mentioned earlier about the temperature range that leads to success with cilantro. But there are a couple of other factors that you will need to monitor once your plants have put down their roots, specifically the pH level and salt content of the water (EC – Electrical Conductivity).
The ideal conditions for these plants is detailed below.
- Temperature – 45° F – 85° F
- pH Range – 6.5 – 6.7
- EC – 1.6 – 1.8 uS/cm (microsiemens per centimeter)
If your location is particularly hot, especially during the Summer, don’t be afraid to add colder water to the water tank from time to time. Ensure the air pump is working to circulate the water to all the plants’ roots.
Nutrition for Cilantro Growth
To ensure healthy plants stick to the feeding chart that is printed on each nutrient bottle. Liquid nutrients should be added as per these instructions when planting your seeds, and then subsequently topped up every two weeks.
For best results, AeroGarden recommends that you never add more or less than the recommended dosage. Cold tap water can be used when topping up the tank, but many users have reported better results using distilled water.
This side of the cilantro care is actually quite hassle-free. Once the leaves start to mature you can trim a few as a partial harvest. But otherwise, the cilantro plants can be left to grow without much interference.
If you happen to see that cilantro closer to the base is smaller and not growing as fast, pruning cilantro from the top can help the light reach the baby cilantro near the bottom. Once pruned, use the fresh cilantro in cooking right away.
3. Harvesting Cilantro
Harvesting Cilantro couldn’t be simpler and if done correctly, the plant will continuously supply yield for some time.
When harvesting, look for new growths that occur between the main stem and side stems. If you’re careful and leave these to continue growing when you harvest the larger leaves, the plants will continue to provide fresh herbs for some time.
Don’t harvest more than one-third of the plant at any one time. If you do happen to harvest too much and have excess cilantro, put the petioles in water and then in the refrigerator. This will help preserve the freshness and taste of cilantro.
After harvesting, be sure to check the light and water level, and adjust as needed.
Growing and Harvesting Cilantro Tips and Tricks
As I noted earlier, temperature is critical when it comes to Cilantro. For successful harvests try to keep the temperature within the prescribed range and the pH and salt levels at the numbers I quoted.
If germination is proving to be difficult, one trick is to cover the whole growing sponge with a coin to block out light, and leave it there until you see some roots. If you have no other herbs or plants growing at the same time, then you could leave the lights off altogether during the germination phase. Some users have also reported greater success by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hrs prior to planting.
If you are buying separate seeds, then one brand that many people have had success with is Burpee. These seem to be particularly suited to hydroponic growth.
Finally, as long as the temperature isn’t affected too much, keep the lights within a few inches of the plants. Be sure to continue trimming taller plants to ensure a more even spread of light over the course of the grow.
Cilantro Health Benefits
Fresh cilantro with dishes provides many health benefits. Like many greens, they’re rich in antioxidants to give your immune system a boost to fight against inflammation. It can also help with the gut and digestion.
Whether you grow cilantro in hydroponics or you eat potted cilantro, they all provide benefits to your health.
Replant AeroGarden Cilantro
Like all AeroGarden plants, you can replant into pots with soil if you want. Many soil gardeners will continue to say that soil is better than hydroponics, but I still like my hydro cilantro.
Follow these steps for proper transplanting and replanting.
Step 1 – Prepare the Soil Pots
Prep where the hydro cilantro will be transported to. Get some soil, preferably pre-fertilized soil for the transplants to have a good nutrient mix to start.
Use containers or pots with holes, so excess water won’t stay inside the pot and can drain.
Step 2 – Pull the Cilantro Out of the AeroGarden
Carefully pull the cilantro seed pods out of the smart garden’s grow deck.
Carefully remove the cilantro and roots from the grow basket. Resist the urge to cut the grow basket, because you can use it again for DIY seed pods in the future.
Step 3 – Plant into the Soil Pots
Place the cilantro into the soil and cover it roots with additional soil as needed.
Don’t fill the pot with soil to the pot’s brim, because you still need room when you’re watering the plants.
That’s all there is to transplanting to soil.
AeroGarden Cilantro Final Thoughts
Growing cilantro with your AeroGarden Harvest isn’t as easy as some other herbs, but with a bit of prudence and some gentle care along the way, this is can be a harvest that is well worth the effort.
What you are rewarded with is a fragrant, versatile, and fresh herb for all kinds of dishes. Hydroponic cilantro will keep providing for as long as seven weeks.
If you like your Asian and South American foods, then this is worth that little extra bit of effort.
For more guides on growing and harvesting AeroGarden plants, check out these articles: