Coriander leaves (known as Dhaniya, Kothimbir, Kotimear in Hindi) are a popular herb across the world and have a wide variety of uses in cooking. Uses of coriander leaves include the preparation of chutneys, garnishing dishes, coriander water, etc. There are many health benefits of coriander and hence it is a part of every other day-to-day typical Indian dish. It is an annual plant. Coriander leaves are also known as Chinese Parsley ( in the US and Canada), Cilantro, Dizzycorn, Japanese Parsley, etc. Its scientific name is Coriandrum Sativum. The leaves of the plant are called Cilantro in many parts of the world while the seeds are called Coriander.
There are many medicinal uses of coriander leaves. They can be used to prepare coriander water. Benefits of coriander water include a boost in immunity, excellent digestive health, weight loss, detoxification of the body, etc.
Coriander powder is used as part of every other Indian dish as a spice and its benefits include improved heart health, improvement in diabetes, etc. Coriander leaves are also added in the preparation of tea which has added health benefits.
In recent times, the use of artificial colors has become a common norm among vegetable vendors to give the cilantro leaves, a fresh green look. It is very difficult to identify adulterated food. But there is a way out! You can start growing coriander leaves in your own home without much hassle. Read this article to know all about growing coriander leaves at home.
How to Grow Coriander leaves
Uses of coriander leaf are many. Coriander is grown both for its leaves and its seeds. To grow coriander, all you need is the following:
- A wide pot ( you can even use the lid of an old bucket with a drainage hole at the bottom)- approx 20-25 cm deep.
- Gardening soil (should be fertile)- should not contain lumps of soil or stones.
- Coriander seeds (you need not buy treated seed from the store. You can use the seeds you buy as a spice in day-to-day cooking)- soak the seeds in water for 24-48 hours and allow them to dry. This will increase the germination rate of the seeds. You can also sow them directly without soaking in water but the germination rate will be lower.
Method of Planting Seeds
Step 1: Take the pot and make two drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This is to ensure proper drainage of the soil. In the absence of drainage, the roots of the plant will rot.
Step 2: Take 30-40 coriander seeds, wrap them in a thin cloth, and apply some pressure so that the seeds split into two halves. Do not apply too much pressure so as to completely crush the seeds. You do not want to make coriander powder!
Step 3: Fill the pot with gardening soil. Soil should have a good mixture of organic content in it. You can use cow dung manure as an organic fertilizer.
Step 4: Dig the top of the soil by about ½ inch. Spread the coriander seeds evenly on the soil bed.
Step 5: Cover the seeds with ½ inch layer of soil. Do not bury the seeds too deep inside the pot as they will start decaying and eventually rot.
Step 6: Gently water the soil taking care of the water pressure does not expose the seeds to the air.
Step 7: Once the seeds germinate and plants grow in length by about 5-6 inches, pinch back the young coriander plants by about ½ -1 inch to stimulate bushier plant growth.
Keep the soil moist until you see the seeds start germinating. Seeds should germinate in about 7-14 days. Sometimes they may take up to 3 weeks to germinate.
Tip: Sow 5-6 seeds approximately 20 cm apart for best growth. Also, this herb does not like transplantation. Hence, sow them directly into the pot from which you wish to harvest. Once the seedlings start growing, allow 8-10 inches between the plants by removing the weaker plants and keeping only the strong plants for fuller growth. You can use the smaller tender plants for cooking and garnishing.
Green coriander prefers warm and dry conditions to grow. The ideal season to sow the seeds is Spring (March in India) or Fall (September- November). The plant is fully ripe in about 90 days’ time and you can harvest the seeds once ripen.
Coriander leaves prefer sunny areas but they do not like extreme heat. The leaves of the coriander plants tend to be bitter in taste when grown in a very hot climate. Keep them in an area that protects them from hot afternoon sun especially if you live in hot climates like that of Northern India.
Coriander also cannot tolerate frost and will eventually die in frosty conditions.
Coriander leaves prefer slightly acidic soil. A soil pH in the range of 6-7 is ideal for its growth. The soil should be well-drained and fertilized. You can use compost prepared at home (at least 3-4 months old) or cow dung manure to add nutrients to the soil. You should use nitrogen-rich fertilizers for the best growth of these herbs. Do not over-fertilize the soil as it may burn your plants.
Coriander can grow up to 45-50 cm in length. Its flowers are white/light pink in color and grow in umbels. They will quickly develop seeds in hot climates.
There are many types of coriander plants. It is majorly classified into 2 types: leafy variety which is grown for its leaves and seed variety which is grown for harvesting seeds. The leafy variety holds the leaves for a longer time than the seed variety. However, both varieties will eventually produce the seeds
Tip: Once a plant starts producing seeds, it will divert its entire energy towards producing seeds and will reduce leaf production. Hence a good time to harvest leafy plants is before the plant starts seed production. If you see the development of flowers on the plant, remove them immediately to get a fuller harvest of leaves.
Health Benefits of Coriander Leaves
- Helps in lowering blood sugar
- It is rich in anti-oxidants which improves the immune system
- It is good for heart health and brain functions
- It improves digestion- helps in diarrhea
- Helps fighting many infections
- Good for your skin
- It has anti-cancer potential
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Helps in regulating blood pressure
How To Harvest
Cut the individual leaves and stems right from the base in order for the rest of the plant to grow in a healthy manner. You can harvest once the plant reaches a height of 6-7 inches. Harvest between half or two-thirds of the plant at once. Once harvested, the plant will grow again for 2-3 more cycles.
You should keep the soil moist until the plants establish themselves. Once they are established, they will need less water. They need around 1 inch of water per week.
Water the plants gently as coriander leaves are tender and will get damaged if watered with pressure.
How To Store Coriander Leaves
Trim the bottom of the stems and place them in a container filled with water. Regularly change the water to avoid rotting of the stems. Alternately, you can wrap the coriander leaves with stems intact in a newspaper and store in the refrigerator. This will keep the leaves green for a longer time.
Pests and Diseases
Coriander is normally an insect repellent. However, it can develop a few diseases:
- Leaf spot – Small yellow spots
- Powdery mildew –A white powdery substance
- Fungal attacks
Once the foliage becomes thick and bushy, harvest the coriander leaves to provide proper air circulation around the plant. Also, do not overwater or underwater the plant. This will prevent leaf spot disease, mildew, and fungal attacks to some extent.
Use neem oil spray (mixed with 1-2 drops of soap) as an organic pesticide/insecticide every 15-20 days on the plant. Spray evenly over and under the coriander leaves to prevent pests and insects.
You can add mulch at the top of the soil to prevent weeds.
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