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Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a popular herb that is widely used in many cuisines around the world. The plant belongs to the parsley family and is grown for its aromatic leaves and seeds, which are both edible. The fresh leaves of cilantro have a strong, citrusy flavor that is often used in Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine, among others. The seeds are used as a spice in many dishes and are commonly found in pickling recipes.
Botanical name: Coriandrum sativum
Plant morphology: Cilantro is an annual herb that grows up to 50 cm tall. It has a slender, branched stem and thin, delicate leaves that are lacy and fern-like in appearance. The leaves are usually green in color, but can sometimes be tinged with red or purple. The plant produces small, white or pinkish flowers that bloom in umbels, followed by round, dry fruits that are the coriander seeds.
Soil and climatic requirements: Cilantro grows best in well-drained, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. It prefers full sun to partial shade and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from cool spring weather to hot summer temperatures. However, it tends to bolt (go to seed) quickly in hot weather, so it is best to grow it in the cooler months.
Planting type: Direct sowing or transplanting
Spacing: Spacing for cilantro plants should be around 6 inches apart.
Germination period: 7-21 days
Hours of sunlight required: Cilantro prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.
Watering: Cilantro prefers consistently moist soil, so it is important to water it regularly, especially during hot, dry weather.
Harvesting: Cilantro leaves can be harvested as soon as the plant has at least 6 leaves, and continue to harvest regularly to keep the plant producing. The leaves are best used fresh, as they lose flavor quickly when dried. The seeds can be harvested once they have turned brown and are fully dry, usually around 3-4 months after planting.
Problems of cilantro cultivation: Cilantro is relatively easy to grow and does not have many serious pests or diseases. However, it is susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases if the soil is too moist, and can be attacked by aphids and spider mites.