Cilantro is a notoriously difficult plant to grow. If you also get a pot not suitable for it, chances are that you might not get the best out of it.
A recommended pot size for a single cilantro plant regularly harvested is around 8 inches in diameter and 6 inches in depth. Width is important for leaf growth, and depth is important for the long taproot that cilantro has. The planter can be either plastic or clay, despite plastic being preferred for such herb.
For more specifics in the right pot to pick, keep reading. We will also cover pot material and placement.
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The best size for a pot for growing cilantro indoors would be 8 inches (20cm) in diameter at least 6 inches (15cm) deep. Cilantro has a long and sensitive taproot system that does not transplant well. Here is a good quality planter on Amazon of a suitable size for a cilantro plant.
Cilantro should not be transplanted. It should sprout and mature in the same planter.
Gardening is not a precise science and, of course, some of you might debate these numbers. I managed to grow healthy cilantro plants in smaller pots, but, for higher hields, this looks the best compromise especially for indoor applications.
Cilantro prefers a moist environment, so having a decent volume of soil from which the roots can extract the water over time is a good plus. A too-small pot can dry quickly. However, moisture does not mean waterlogged. Every herb I deal with (except the strong mint) will easily die in case of overwatering.
Keeping in line with the humid environment, cilantro can grow better (with less watering from your side) in a plastic container. Plastic, different from clay, is not porous and holds water keeping the soil moist. Hence, if you like watering, reduce it to once a week (or less in cooler weather). A good rule of thumb is just to taste the soil with your finger. If it looks moist at the touch (dig the finger in it a bit), then no need to water it.
Cilantro requires a very well-draining pot; there should be no lots of water left in the saucer (yes, you need one) beneath the pot. Remember, do no use heavy and compact soil (such as peat moss).
Placing a rock at the bottom of the pot where you grow your cilantro is unnecessary for its care. The idea that rocks can increase drainage is incorrect. Rocks at the bottom of your planter can harm the plant.
When you water your cilantro plant, be sure to not wet the leaves. Cilantro may be notorious for its moisture needs, but it is also commonly attacked by mildew. To avoid your cilantro catching a disease, don’t water the leaves.
Here a few tips that might help you to take care of your cilantro. They are all planter related. Enjoy!
Place your cilantro in a slightly shady spot. Full-sun will lead your cilantro to flower and seed, which will halt the production of leaves. This is called bolting— a natural phenomenon, but something that you want to delay if you want a reach harvest.
Indeed, while cilantro can grow in anything from partial to full sun, it thrives best with full sun half the day and shades the other half (not including night hours). A place that has full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon is the perfect spot for your cilantro planter.
Rotation can help your cilantro growing straighter and stronger but it is not crucial. Plants grow toward the sun, after all. Hence, if you do not rotate your cilantro stems will bend in one direction. Despite not being a massive issue, this might create a quite moist environment (all the leaves amassed in a tinny area or again the glass of a windowsill). This is an ideal environment for the development of fungi. Growth will not be stunted by sunlight coming only on one side, as long as the plant is getting enough sunlight.
The planter should be wider than it is deep, but never shallower than 10 inches. As a rough rule of thumbs, if you like numbers, the width to depth ratio should be 3:2. This can get confusing because the ideal cilantro planter is wide, it’s just also deep.
The dimensions of the planter as outlined earlier in this article strongly recommend a deep planter. Wide and shallow planters will restrict the deep taproot cilantro has, limiting its upward growth.
Here something that I found debating with some friends of mine regarding ideal plant growth. We need to be clear here. Gardening is not an exact science like physics or math. Plants are extremely well adaptable. Believe me or not I found a lavender plant growing in a crack in front of my girlfriend’s house a few weeks ago. Lavender on a crack, more or less like a generic weed.
The measured I gave above (the 8 inches for a single plant) are those that, to me, guarantee the highest yield.
However, suppose that you have three cilantro plants from the grocery store (that super tiny plastic pot). Perhaps you bought them for just a few pennies because they were close to the “expire date”. What if you have only 1 planter of 8 inches (or 10, does not make much difference). Should you threw away the other two cilantro because I recommended one pot per plant! Of course not!
You can plant three small cilantro in the same 8 inches pot and enjoy three healthy plants. Of course, they might not get as many leaves as you might have with one pot. Of course, they might need more frequent watering, as there is triple the amount of roots in the same volume. You might also need to harvest them more often to promote growth. No problem.
The lady on the video below, a gardener that I respect, goes on talking about how you can place three cilantro in a single 8-inch pot. No problem, however, she also lives in a very sunny area with ideal growing conditions. So cilantro in that case does not mind much.
However, you can still grow good and healthy cilantro in a slightly smaller planter. What you should not tolerate is planters without drainage holes. Every herb needs a planter with drainage holes.
Can you use a 5-gallon bucket for cilantro?
Many of you may have large containers hanging around in the garage unused or ready to be thrown away. Think about those old paint containers that you might have after renovating your garage.
Yes, you can give a second life to large containers using cilantro planters. First, after removing any chemical leftover (paint or whatever they container) drill some holes at the bottom. Do not skip this step. You do not need a drill, a screwdriver can be enough. In this last case however be careful, you might risk cracking the bottom of the planter. For a 5-gallon I usually drill one hole at the center and 4 at the side.
For such a large container, I would go heavy and plant a dozen seeds. Do not place a single plant, it might be too big for a single coriander plant.
These buckets are ideal if you have free space on the patio, definitely not indoors given their size and their, not very homey, look.
Having the right size pot is important, but not the only key to growing cilantro. Here the main takeaways you should remember
- A 3 to 2 width to depth ratio is the ideal size for a cilantro pot.
- This is ideal, any planter that is 8 inches can happily fit one or 2 cilantro plants easily.
- Do not transplant a cilantro plant, grow it until maturity in the same planter
- Plastic is lighter, less brittle, and more moisture-retaining than clay. It should be your first choice. Here a good planter on amazon
For more on growing cilantro, read our article, Nine-Easy Tips for Long-Lasting Cilantro. It will keep your herb flowering and healthy for as long as possible— fewer trips to the plant nursery for younger cilantro.
Can cilantro grow in water only? Cilantro, like many other plants and herbs, needs nutrients and gas exchange, both of them happen mainly through its roost. Hence, until such an exchange is guaranteed, any medium, including water, is suitable. In this case, nutrients and gases might need to be externally provided to guarantee the long-term development of the herb (aquaponic for more).
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