How to grow Coriander from seeds

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is one of the most popular and used herbs in the world. We grow coriander from seeds continuously throughout the season. Here in this article we will share our best tips and tricks.

The coriander leaves are sometimes confused for flat leaved parsley but the distinct smell and taste takes care of any risk for mixups.

Coriander is a fast growing annual plant and lends itself well to be planted continuously throughout the season.

We start planting seeds in pots already in February / March and then plant new batches every 2 to 3 weeks. If the leaves go yellow due to lack of light we use a LED grow light.

This allows us to have access to coriander pretty much throughout the year.

How to grow coriander

Coriander can be grown indoors in pots or directly in your herb garden.

The coriander seeds are resilient to cold. Still we always wait for a ground temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius before planting seeds in our herb garden.

Planting seeds directly in your herb garden is rather straightforward. When you plant seeds outdoors I recommend creating a line in the ground approximately 1 cm deep. Water the soil and then plant the seeds in the already wet soil and cover lightly with fresh soil. 

To avoid transplanting seedlings later on and if you have space you can already now leave about 20-25 cm between the seeds. 

Keep the soil moist but not wet. As always, use soil with a lighter structure to allow for good drainage. Avoid complete dry outs especially in the hot summer months as it stresses the plant to go into earlier blooming. 

Coriander is easier to grow during the should seasons and is prone to bolt during the hotter summer months. If your coriander plant starts to develop flowers simply remove them to make sure all energy goes into producing more new and tasty coriander leaves.

The coriander plant likes a light location but does not crave direct sunlight like the cherry tomato, beefsteak tomato or chili plant.

Grow coriander from seeds in pots

If you start growing your seeds indoors you will of course have a longer growing season and a much fuller harvest. 

And it is simple and low maintenance. 

1. Choose a pot

I prefer using plastic starter pots from recycled materials (7 centimeters or 3 inches) that I have had for years.

Plastic pots helps keep the soil moist and prevents drying out.

I have however also used peat pellets and pots made from porous materials but you will need to water more, especially on hot days.

2. Choose your soil

You can use regular potting soil when planting your seeds.

I prefer to use a mix of equal parts of cactus soil mix and regular potting soil when I plant coriander seeds in pots.

The cactus soil has a looser texture and helps me control the moisture as well as the level of nutrition.

Pay attention when you choose your potting soil. Often commercial soils compete to add the most nutrition, fertilizer or compost.

And there is of course a time and need for that as well.

But I have in the past had seeds “burn” from too much nutrition that damaged the new roots and prevented the seedlings from developing.

3. Fill pot with soil

Add stones or some other material to improve drainage in the bottom of the pot.

Now fill the pot with soil all the way up and water generously.

Let the water run through the soil to wet it without making it soaking wet.

Adding stones for drainage will help the soil find the right level of moisture if you simply leave the pot alone for a couple of minutes.

4. Plant your seeds

Planting coriander seeds in plastic pots
Large seeds make for easy separation when planting in pots.

Plant the coriander seeds about 1 cm deep.

I always plant a generous number of seeds and worry about transplanting the seedlings when they are large enough to handle.

Coriander has a reputation of being difficult to transplant due to its delicate taproot. I have however not had any problems as long as the your seedlings are handled with care.

But do take care to space out the seeds as each seed will form a plant. And it is difficult and risky to separate seedlings growing together tightly in a group.

Coriander seeds can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. I have compared using soaked seeds, crushed seeds with seeds straight out of the seed packet. And gently crushed seeds (1 seed into 2 or 3 parts) do germinate faster.

I did actually test 3 different ways to germinate coriander seeds in a different article. And it was conclusive that gently crushing the seeds would make the coriander seeds germinate faster. Soaked seeds came in second place whereas planting the seeds straight from the packet took the longest time to germinate and sprout first leaves. 

Needless to say, if you have the space, you can of course plant one seed per pot already at the beginning.

The coriander plant needs about 20-25 cm of growing space to develop properly.

5. Keep moist

Now we wait and our only job is to make sure that we keep the soil moist but never soaking.

We also need to avoid complete dryouts to avoid stresseing the plant into blooming earlier.

6. Transplant to bigger posts

First we get seed leaves or cotyledons and then true leaves start forming
True leaves forming on coriander seedling

If you plant one seed per pot you can skip this step.

But as I always plant a generous number of seeds I need to transplant the seedlings to bigger pots as they start developing.

My rule of thumb is to transplant the seedlings when they are about 5 cm tall.

I try moving a seedling and if it turns out to be too brittle to move I wait a bit longer. And since I plant a generous number of seeds I can afford to lose a few seedlings in the process.

At this stage I transplant 3-5  seedlings into a 20 cm pot. 

7. Transplant the developed seedling

When the seedlings have developed to about 10-15 cm it is time to transplant them to their final growing place.

I allow for 20-25 cm between the seedling or simply plant one seedling per 20 cm pot.

If you plant rows of coriander seedlings you should space the rows about 30 cm apart.

8. Harvest after 6-8 weeks

You can harvest coriander leaf by leaf or simply cut the entire plant after about 6-8 weeks. 

Coriander plant growing back 1 week after after harvest
Coriander growing back. Photo taken 1 week after harvest.

A fully matured coriander plant reaches approximately 70 cm.

I grow coriander in several medium sized pots measuring about 15 centimetres (6 inches) in diameter.

When I harvest the plant I cut the entire plant leaving the stems about 3 centimetres (1 inch). I keep the pot in the same location and continue to care for it as before. And the plant will always grow back and provide more wonderful leaves to harvest.

By using several medium sized pots I always have fresh coriander when needed.

9. Use fresh coriander or preserve for future use

Fresh coriander is among other things used in dishes from Mexico and Southeast Asia.

The coriander leaves can also be preserved in the freezer for later use. The herb does not dry well as it tends to lose a lot of its flavor.

Harvest coriander seeds for planting

Preparing for next year’s planting season actually starts with planting seeds and then allowing the seedling to develop into a full plant undisturbed.

When we do not harvest any leaves the coriander plant will form flowers earlier. 

When we see seeds  forming we wait for the seeds to change from a green to a light yellowish tone of colour.

When about half the seeds have turned color we cut the stems and bunch them together with string.

Then put the bunch of coriander stems in the paperbag with and tie the opening of the paperbag around the stems.

Now hang the paperbag with the stems in a dry spot and let the seeds fall into the bag as they dry. 

Fresh green coriander seeds do not smell pleasantly but the smell disappears as the seeds dry. 

When the seeds are dry we simply store them in a dry and dark place until it is time to plant coriander seeds again.

Coriander seeds are edible and have a stronger flavor with nutty character.

Meet the author: Mattias is an experienced gardener spending most of his free time on his knees among herbs, plants, and garden vegetables. For the past two years, he has been sharing gardening projects and how-to tutorials on the NordicLavender website and YouTube channel.