In fact, cilantro, a delicious herb, serves as two well-known seasonings – its leaves are known as cilantro, while its seeds are referred to as coriander.
It is just as often used in medicine for everything from toothaches to cancer as it is eaten.
Growing your own ensures you with a steady supply of fresh and healthy cilantro.
Can you grow cilantro hydroponically? Hydroponic cilantro (coriander) is an easy-to-grow plant compared to other popular hydroponic crops like peppers and tomatoes. Like lettuce, cilantro doesn’t take up as much room, uptake as much food, or require as much space as other common hydroponic plants.
Read on below to learn all that you need to know about growing cilantro hydroponically.
Growing Cilantro Hydroponically: What You Need To Know
Cilantro isn’t an overly complicated plant to grow hydroponically. That said, as with any hydroponic crop, you will need a few basics before you get started.
What you need to get started:
- A hydroponic system of your choice
- Coriander seeds
- A source of clean, fresh water
- Liquid fertilizer or nutrients
- Growing medium
- Grow tray for seedlings
- Lights (if growing indoors)
- Control over the temperature/humidity (if growing indoors)
From seed to harvest, expect the process to take between one and a half to two months.
Following the guide below, you should be munching on your own hydroponic cilantro in just a few weeks!
- Best Cilantro Varieties To Grow Hydroponically: Calypso, Delfino, Slo Bolt, Santos, Costa Rica, Lemon, Leisure, and Moroccan
- Seed Germination Time: 7 to 10 days
- When To Transplant Into System: When 2 sets of leaves are showing
- Best Growing Medium: Rockwool or coco-coir
- Best Hydroponic System for Cilantro: Ebb and flow, DWC, NFT, drip, and aeroponics
- Ideal pH: 6.5
- Ideal Temperature: 45°F and 70°F
- Ideal EC/TDS: 1.5/800-1,000
- Lighting Requirements: 12 to 14 hours daily
- Nutrients Needed: High nitrogen and phosphorus
- Time Until First Harvest: 50 to 55 days
- Time To Maturity: 40 to 50 days
How To Germinate Cilantro Seeds for Hydroponics
- Choose fresh cilantro seeds from a reliable source. High-quality seeds have a better chance of germinating successfully.
- Place the seeds in a small container and cover them with room-temperature water. Allow them to soak for 12 to 24 hours. This can soften the seed coat and promote quicker germination.
- For hydroponic germination, you can use a growing medium such as Rockwool cubes (find bargain-priced cubes here), peat pellets, or coconut coir. These mediums provide support and moisture to the seeds.
- Create small holes or depressions in the germination medium using a pencil or your finger. Plant one or two pre-soaked cilantro seeds in each hole, then gently cover the seeds with a thin layer of the growing medium.
- Keep the germination medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. You can mist the seeds with a spray bottle or place the growing medium in a tray with a water reservoir to ensure a steady supply of moisture.
- Maintain a temperature of around 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C) to promote faster and more uniform germination. You can use a seedling heat mat to provide consistent warmth if needed.
- While light is not necessary for the germination process itself, providing gentle light can help seedlings grow stronger once they emerge. Once seeds have germinated, place them in an area with indirect light, or use fluorescent grow lights if germinating indoors.
- As the cilantro seedlings grow, keep an eye on their progress. Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves and are a few inches tall, you might need to thin them out if you planted multiple seeds in each hole. Choose the healthiest-looking seedling, and gently remove the others.
- Once your cilantro seedlings are around 2 to 3 inches tall and have several sets of leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into your hydroponic system. Follow the recommended spacing for your specific hydroponic setup.
Temperatures for Hydroponic Cilantro
Cilantro can withstand temperatures of as low as 10°F and as high as nearly 90°F, but the ideal temperature is between 50°F and 80°F.
Temperatures below 50°F may cause slower growth, and temperatures over 85°F may cause bolting, so temperatures should be kept between these extremes.
All things considered, cilantro does better in slightly cooler weather.
EC, TDS and pH Levels for Hydroponic Cilantro
Generally speaking, the EC level affects how well your cilantro will be able to uptake nutrients and water through its roots. The ideal EC level for cilantro is 1.5.
The TDS reading should be between 800 and 1,000, adjusting as needed. The right pH level needs to be between 6.0 and 6.8.
In this article, I explain all about EC, pH, and how to adjust them in your system.
Spacing Hydroponic Cilantro
Nine to 12 inches is the ideal spacing for hydroponic cilantro.
Spacing plants by these measurements allows enough room for fully developed cilantro once they begin to mature and take up more space.
Light Requirements for Hydroponic Cilantro
Cilantro plants require somewhere between 12 and 14 hours of indoor lighting per day.
Outside, they can do with less. LED lights are recommended for fast and steady growth of hydroponic cilantro.
Nutrients for Growing Cilantro Hydroponically
As far as nutrients go, a high nitrogen and phosphorus content is preferred by hydroponic cilantro plants.
Something along the lines of a well-balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer is perfect.
The nutrients need to be topped off regularly. Replacing the water and nutrients completely should be done at least every few weeks.
How To Harvest Cilantro in Hydroponics System
Hydroponic cilantro can be harvested around 50 to 55 days after planting from seeds.
If counting from germination time, the harvest time is anywhere from 40 to 48 days.
Harvest cilantro regularly by picking the leaves by hand or using scissors to trim back entire sections of the plant away from the stem.
Separate the leaves, and tie them into bunches with string after checking them for pests and dead parts.
Drying cilantro is as easy as hanging the bundles up in the air.
Check back in 1 to 2 weeks, and they should be fully dry and ready to be put into containers and used as cooking ingredients in the kitchen.
What About Coriander?
Harvesting coriander (seeds of cilantro) from cilantro plants grown hydroponically can be a rewarding process because you’re able to enjoy two different culinary elements from the same plant.
However, it’s important to note that cilantro plants will stop producing fresh leaves once they start focusing on flowering and seed production.
If you wish to continue harvesting cilantro leaves, you can practice successive planting by sowing new seeds every few weeks to ensure a continuous supply of fresh leaves.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to harvest coriander from your hydroponic cilantro plants:
- Allow Bolting: Cilantro plants need to go through the bolting phase, where they start producing flowers and eventually seeds. This is the phase when coriander seeds develop. Allow your cilantro plants to continue growing until you see the flower heads forming.
- Monitor Progress: Keep an eye on the flower heads as they mature. You’ll notice that they eventually turn brown and dry out. This indicates that the seeds are ripening and are ready for harvest.
- Harvest the Seeds: Once the flower heads have dried out, carefully cut or pluck them from the cilantro plant. Place a container or a bag underneath to catch any seeds that may fall during the process.
- Seed Removal: Gently crush the dried flower heads or rub them between your hands to release the coriander seeds. You can remove the seeds from the stems and chaff by gently tapping or shaking them over a clean surface.
- Cleaning the Seeds: To remove any remaining debris or chaff, you can winnow the seeds. This involves blowing gently on the seeds to let the lighter chaff blow away, leaving the heavier seeds behind.
- Storage: Once you’ve collected the coriander seeds, transfer them to an airtight container for storage. Store them in a cool, dark place to maintain their flavor and quality.
- Optional Roasting: Some people choose to roast coriander seeds to enhance the flavor and aroma of the seeds before using them. To do this, simply spread the seeds on a baking sheet, and roast them in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 250°F or 120°C) for about 5-10 minutes, until fragrant.
Best Hydroponic System for Growing Cilantro
Aeroponics and ebb and flow, however, are probably the most popular hydroponic growing systems for cilantro because they allow the plants so much space compared to other hydroponic methods and setups.
Best Cilantro Varieties for Hydroponic Growing
Depending on the exact type and taste of cilantro that you prefer, there are a number of varieties (in addition to those listed above) to consider for growing hydroponically.
- Indian Summer Cilantro – This version of cilantro looks more like parsley and takes more time to grow.
- Leaf Cilantro – Leaf cilantro is the most popular and widely used type of cilantro.
- Mexican Coriander – This cilantro variety is a slender Mexican version.
- Potluck Coriander – A harder-than-normal-to-grow variety of cilantro.
- Seed Coriander – This is simply bolting coriander grown for seeds.
- Vietnamese Cilantro – A southeastern Asian variety that grows even in high heat.
Cilantro Health Benefits
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is not only a flavorful herb used in cooking but also offers various potential health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits associated with cilantro:
- Nutrient Rich: Cilantro is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. These nutrients play important roles in supporting overall health, immune function, and bone health.
- Antioxidant Properties: Cilantro contains antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Antioxidants are associated with reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
- Digestive Aid: Cilantro has been traditionally used to aid digestion. It contains compounds that may help promote healthy digestion by increasing the production of digestive enzymes and supporting the proper functioning of the digestive tract.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Some compounds found in cilantro, such as quercetin and kaempferol, have anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may contribute to reducing inflammation in the body, which is associated with various chronic diseases.
- Cholesterol Management: There is some evidence to suggest that cilantro may help lower LDL cholesterol levels (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) due to its potential lipid-lowering effects. However, more research is needed to fully understand this benefit.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Cilantro may have a role in helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Certain compounds in cilantro may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, which can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of diabetes.
- Detoxification: Cilantro contains compounds that may aid in detoxifying heavy metals and other toxins from the body. This has led to its use in certain detox diets and therapies.
- Immune Support: The vitamin C content in cilantro, along with its antioxidants, can contribute to supporting the immune system by enhancing the body’s defense mechanisms against infections and illnesses.
- Skin Health: The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of cilantro may contribute to promoting healthy skin by preventing oxidative stress and reducing inflammation that can lead to skin issues.
Tips for Using Cilantro
Cilantro is a versatile and flavorful herb that can add a fresh and vibrant element to a wide range of dishes. However, cilantro’s flavor can be polarizing as some people perceive it as fresh and citrusy while others find it soapy or pungent.
Adjust the amount of cilantro you use according to your personal taste preferences. Additionally, if you have cilantro left over, you can preserve it by freezing it in ice cube trays with a bit of water or turning it into a flavorful herb butter.
Experiment with cilantro in different dishes to discover how its unique flavor profile complements a wide range of cuisines and ingredients. Here are some culinary tips for using cilantro effectively:
- Before using cilantro, wash the leaves and stems thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Gently pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Cilantro is often used fresh to retain its bright flavor and aroma. It’s best added toward the end of cooking or as a garnish to preserve its delicate taste. However, some cuisines also use cilantro in cooked dishes, where its flavor can mellow and integrate with other ingredients.
- Both the leaves and stems of cilantro are edible and flavorful. The stems have a slightly milder flavor compared to the leaves. Chop the stems finely and use them in dishes where you want a subtler cilantro presence, such as sauces or soups.
- Sprinkle chopped cilantro leaves over finished dishes just before serving. The fresh green color and distinct aroma will enhance the overall presentation and flavor of the dish.
- Cilantro is a key ingredient in many salsas, chutneys, and dips. It adds a zesty kick to tomato-based salsas, guacamole, and yogurt-based sauces.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves to salads for an extra burst of flavor and color. It pairs well with a variety of salad ingredients, including greens, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
- Cilantro is a staple in Asian and Mexican cuisines. It’s commonly used in dishes like Thai curries, Vietnamese pho, Mexican salsas, and Indian chutneys.
- Stir fresh cilantro into soups, stews, and broths just before serving. Its refreshing flavor can balance the richness of the dish.
- Blend cilantro with other herbs, garlic, olive oil, and citrus juice to create flavorful marinades for meats, seafood, or vegetables. You can also use cilantro-based dressings to elevate salads.
- Cilantro can provide a burst of flavor to rice dishes, quinoa, and couscous. Simply mix chopped cilantro into the cooked grains for added taste and color.
- Make a cilantro-based pesto by blending cilantro leaves, nuts (such as pine nuts or almonds), garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use the pesto as a pasta sauce, spread, or dip.
- Add a few sprigs of cilantro to water for a refreshing and lightly flavored drink. This is especially popular in some cultures for its potential detoxifying properties.
Can You Grow Hydroponic Cilantro in a Mason Jar?
Cilantro is easily grown in hydroponic mason jars due to their non-woody nature and low space requirements.
Not only are jars with cilantro easy as pie to grow, but they also look really great on the windowsill. That said, keep in mind that a simple glass of water won’t be sufficient for long, and you’ll have to provide nutrients to keep the plant growing.
Can You Grow Cilantro in Just Water?
Growing cilantro in just plain water without any added nutrients or a hydroponic setup is more challenging and less likely to result in sustained growth.
While some plants can be propagated in water alone, cilantro is not well-suited for this method due to its nutrient requirements.
Cilantro is a fast-growing herb that demands a variety of essential nutrients to thrive, and these nutrients are typically found in soil or a well-balanced hydroponic nutrient solution.
When placed in just plain water, cilantro plants will likely exhaust their nutrient reserves quickly and won’t receive the necessary elements for sustained growth.
How Fast Does Cilantro Grow?
The growth rate of cilantro can vary based on several factors including environmental conditions, care, and cultivation methods. Generally, cilantro is known for its relatively fast growth compared to some other herbs.
Cilantro seeds typically germinate within 7-10 days under optimal conditions. Germination can be faster if the seeds are soaked before planting.
After germination, cilantro plants begin to produce their first set of true leaves within a few weeks. These leaves are usually ready for harvest in about 3 to 4 weeks from planting, depending on factors like temperature and light.
How Tall Does Cilantro Grow?
During its vegetative phase, when cilantro is primarily focused on leaf production, the plant usually reaches a height of around 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters). This is the stage at which you can begin harvesting the leaves for culinary use.
As cilantro transitions to its reproductive phase, it starts to produce flowers and seeds, a process known as bolting.
At this stage, the plant’s growth rate may slow down, and it can reach a height of 18 to 30 inches (45 to 75 centimeters) or more, depending on environmental conditions and the specific variety.
Is Cilantro Cut and Come Again?
Yes, cilantro is considered ideal for “cut and come again harvesting.” This term indicates that you can harvest cilantro leaves multiple times from the same plant over its growing period.
When you harvest cilantro leaves, the plant will continue to produce new leaves, allowing you to enjoy fresh cilantro for an extended period.
When cilantro seedlings reach a reasonable size with several sets of leaves, you can start harvesting by snipping off the outer leaves. Be sure to leave some leaves on the plant so it can continue to photosynthesize and grow.
As the cilantro plant grows, you can continue to harvest leaves from the outer parts of the plant. This encourages the plant to branch out and produce new leaves from the center.
Regular harvesting can help delay the bolting process, where the plant starts to produce flowers and seeds. If cilantro bolts, the leaves can become less flavorful.
By harvesting frequently, you can extend the vegetative growth phase and maximize your cilantro harvest.
A Final Word About How To Grow Cilantro Hydroponically
Cilantro is a fun and easy crop to grow in your garden, and growing cilantro using hydroponics is just as easy. It grows rather fast, and it’s tasty and good for your health!
What reason could you possibly have to not start growing cilantro hydroponically (or at least planning to) today?