Tips & Hints On How To Grow Coriander In The UK. It’s A Quick & Easy Crop To Grow Inside Or Outdoors. Here Are My Simple Tips.

Coriander, Coriandrum sativum, aka cilantro, Chinese parsley etc. is an annual herb. It is normally grown for its leaves, stems or dried seed, but all parts of the plant are edible including the roots and flowers. Cilantro is the common name in the USA and is a Spanish word. Here’s How To Grow Coriander in any language!

The taste is often described as being lemon/lime and tart. But some people say it tastes like soap. This soapy flavour is tied to a specific gene some of us carry which means that certain aldehydes are tasted by those people whilst non-carriers can’t taste the soapy flavour.


Coriander is a native to southern Europe, North Africa and South East Asia. It is widely used in Indian cooking as both a ground dried seed and fresh leaf. It’s also used in Thai and other cuisines to such an extent that it is now commonly sold as a both fresh picked leaves and live potted plants in UK supermarkets.

How To Grow Coriander From Seed

How To Grow Coriander From Seed

Coriander seed is one of the bigger seeds available to gardeners. And that makes it easier to sow without crowding. It has a hard fibrous seed coat and some people suggest it needs soaking in warm water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat before sowing. I’ve never had problems with germination so personally don’t see the point of this.

I sow direct in the soil outside, sowing it at a depth about equal to its diameter or slightly deeper.

Multisown coriander

However, I most usually sow in modules for transplanting, as this means the crop is in the ground for less time and I can get more crops in my biointensive garden per year.

When sowing in modules I always multi-sow anything from 5-8 seeds per small module. This gives me the option to transplant the module with all the seedlings in it OR removing the seedlings and transplanting them separately.

Coriander seedling

Many people worry that growing too many in a module will stunt the plant. It doesn’t provided you leave sufficient distance between the transplanted modules. Interestingly the pot grown plants available in supermarkets have a lot of seedling per pot and they grow fine .. though I find the flavour quite bland, but more on that below.

Coriander seedling and first true leaf

How To Grow Coriander Indoors

By indoors I mean how to grow coriander on the kitchen windowsill OR in a greenhouse.

Coriander is a forgiving plant. It prefers plenty of sunlight (remember ion comes from sunny warm countries), but will tolerate a bit of shade. So a sunny window that gets sun for several hours a day is ideal.

Seed can be sown in pots at a depth around the diameter of the seed or slightly deeper. Water and kept warm. Once germinated ensure it gets as much light as possible and keep the pot moist but not swimming with water.

The compost type isn’t crucial, though an open well drained compost is best. Soil can be used but can give slower growth due to not being so well drained. Less drainage means the plants tend to sit in a damper airless root environment and growth is slower.

In greenhouses I tend to put the coriander where it gets as much sunshine as possible. It thrives on warmth and sunlight. But it does grow much better when wet irrigated.

Growing Coriander Outdoors

Outdoors I sow in shallow drill. Pull out the drill and water it if the soil is very dry. Drop the seed in and pull a little soil back over the shallow drill. Walk away and be patient. Water if the weather gets very dry but if there is plenty of water below the seed they usually come through in a week or so, depending on temperature.

I haven’t mentioned seed spacing because that depends on how you are going to harvest your coriander. If you are going to harvest microgreens you can sow very thickly. If for leaf leave an inch or two between seeds. If harvesting for roots you want the plant to reach a decent size. So spring around 5-6 inches or even more will work.

For maximum yield I sow thickly, then harvest some microgreens followed by some leaves a few weeks later and eventually thin until I have larger plants for a root crop.

Growing Coriander In Pots or Containers

In the above section on growing indoors I covered the basics of growing in pots. Growing coriander in containers is the same but on a bigger scale. I often use 3-60 litre buckets for coriander and put them outside or inside depending on the season. In warmer weather it is a quick crop and can be quickly followed with another veg crop if you wish. Or you can harvest over a longer period.

How To Grow Coriander From Supermarket Bought Plants

Supermarkets would prefer you to pick the leaves and buy another one. But some people harvest carefully and keep the plant cropping for weeks or even months.

Other people plant the potted plants in larger containers or even outside and crop them for a good period.

Personally I find that as soon as I take the wrapper off the pot the plant starts to go backwards and soon dies. I’m rubbish as keeping them alive and much prefer to start new plants from seed.

The reason the plants tend to die is that they are rapidly grown in greenhouses at a high temperature to promote fast growth. This means they get more crops a year and make more profit. There’s nothing wrong with a business making a profit, my own business make money. But the crop needs a good flavour and fast crops tend to be bland.

How To Grow Coriander For Coriander Roots & Thai Dishes

The reason the roots are preferred by some chefs is that they are very flavoursome, can be frozen and that means always available. Being white they can also be used in white sauces or clear broths. The leaves and stems impart a green colour, but the root doesn’t.

How To Harvest Coriander Leaves

There are two ways to harvest coriander leaves. We can either cut them off at, or near, ground level. this will usually kill the plant as the growing tip is removed. Cutting above the growing point will set the plant back but it should recover.

The second method, more suited to small scale production such as in gardens or on allotments, is to remove a few leaves from the outside of each plant. The plant keeps growing with barely any discernable setback this way.

Growing Coriander In Winter

The great thing about coriander is that it survives a frost. I grow it in my greenhouse in very large containers in winter and it often freezes. But as soon as it warms up it keep growing and I can harvest leaves every week of the winter. Even when it has been frozen solid it bounces back and soon starts to grow again. In this respect it is a miracle crop .. but so is mizuna, mibuna, lettuce, kale and a lot of other winter salad and leaf crops!

How To Grow Coriander For Maximum Flavour

The coriander grown for supermarkets is never as flavoursome as what we can grow ourselves. The commercial growers supplying supermarkets get paid per pot so need to grow as many pots as they can from their greenhouses. The faster they grow the more crops they can grow each year.

The problem is if the coriander is grown too fast it has little flavour compared with slower grown crops. So I don’t rush my crops. They still grow reasonably fast but by being just a bit slower and not forcing things the crop has much more flavour.

Tag: How To Grow Coriander In The UK

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