Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an aromatic herb commonly used to flavor international dishes. This polarizing herb has a recognizable pungent aroma, and some people love its taste, while some find that it tastes like soap.
The coriander plant is native to many countries around the world and is widely cultivated in Europe and some areas in Asia and Africa. It’s a soft plant that can grow up to 50 meters and bears white or pink flowers. The dried fruits of this plant are known as coriander seeds, which can add a warm, spicy flavor to stews, curries, and sauces.
You may wonder if there’s a difference between coriander and cilantro. To set the record straight, cilantro and coriander are one and the same – they are two different terms for the exact same plant. Coriander is typically used when referring to the plant, while cilantro is the fresh coriander leaves added to dishes. Native English speakers in the UK prefer to use the term coriander, while people from the US usually use cilantro to refer to fresh coriander. In some places, it is referred to as Chinese parsley.
Benefits of Planting Coriander at your Home Garden
This herb is a great addition to your herb garden, for it can be useful for a lot of recipes. It also boasts various health benefits that you may want to easily get a hold of. Here are some compelling reasons why you should grow your own coriander plant at home:
1. Easy to Grow
Coriander is an incredibly easy plant to grow. Its seeds can be sown directly to the garden at any time after the last frost. It loves the sun, but it will thrive in the shade. You also don’t have to wait for a long time to harvest its leaves – it grows pretty quickly, giving off leaves ready for harvest after only a few weeks. It reseeds itself at the end of its life cycle.
However, remember that coriander is easy to bolt in the summer heat, and when it does, the leaves thin out, turn bitter, and are no longer edible. Don’t worry if it happens, though, for it will soon burst out an edible white flower and produce coriander seeds.
To have a continuous supply of coriander greens, plant them every few weeks all summer long if you live in the north. But if you live in the south, consider growing the herb in the spring and fall because the summer heat will affect the leaves’ growth and taste.
2. Has Lots of Culinary Uses
It’s a great convenience to have your own cilantro supply fresh from your garden. This herb can be added to different kinds of dishes and snacks.
All plants from the coriander plant are edible – the stems, the leaves, and the seeds. However, the leaves and seeds vary significantly in taste. The leaves are pungent and citrus-like, while some people find that it tastes like soap. Meanwhile, coriander seeds have an earthy flavor.
Coriander leaves, commonly known as cilantro, are best used for these culinary applications:
- Chopped and added to homemade guacamole, salsa, and pico de gallo
- Topped in soups or pasta dishes as a garnish
- Paired with chicken and fish
- Added to lentils, cold pasta salads, or Thai noodle dishes
- Mixed with other herbs in pesto
- Blended with garlic, lime, ginger, jalapeno, and coconut milk for a fresh-tasting sauce
- Mixed into salads and vegetable dishes
- Added to tacos, nachos, and quesadillas
- Mixed into smoothies for added health benefits
Meanwhile, coriander seeds can be used either as ground or whole form. Ground coriander is great for doughs and curry pastes, while whole coriander seeds are ideal for adding to meat rubs or on top of bread, pickling, or tossing to roasted vegetables. It can also be added to soups, especially those with carrots and lentils.
3. Rich in Antioxidants
Coriander is full of antioxidants that prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can help boost the immune system, prevent inflammation, and protect the nervous system. These compounds include quercetin, tocopherols, and terpinene.
4. Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms
The significant levels of dietary proteins and fiber in cilantro can help regulate blood sugar levels. A study concluded that due to the stimulating effect of coriander on the endocrine glands, the secretion of insulin might increase from the pancreas, which increases the insulin levels in the blood. This herb can help absorb sugar, which results in drops in the blood sugar level.
The seeds, extract, and oils of coriander can all help lower blood sugar. In fact, it’s powerful enough that people with low blood sugar must use it with caution.
Drinking a glass of coriander juice with some honey and lemon infusions can help control appetite, promote weight loss, and ease diabetic symptoms.
5. Good for the Heart
Some animal and test-tube studies show coriander’s ability to lower heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. The herb extract appears to act as a diuretic that can help the body flush excess sodium and water, which can help lower blood pressure.
What’s more, most people find that eating pungent herbs and spices like cilantro helps them reduce their salt intake, which can help improve heart health.
Coriander seeds contain essential acids such as palmitic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, and ascorbic acid, which can effectively reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
6. It Can Aid in Stomach Problems and Promote Gut Health
Coriander may help ease unpleasant digestive symptoms like bloating and discomfort usually associated with irritable bowel syndrome. The coriander extract is used as an appetite stimulant in traditional Iranian medicine. The borneol and linalool components in coriander can aid in digestion, proper liver functioning, and bonding of the bowels. A study also found that it can help relieve diarrhea caused by microbes and fungus.
7. It May Protect Brain Health
A lot of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, are associated with inflammation. And since coriander contains anti-inflammatory properties, this herb can help prevent nerve-cell damage and improve memory. Coriander may also help manage anxiety.
8. Help Alleviate Skin Disorders
Coriander contains antioxidants that may help protect your skin from aging and sun damage. Coriander also has antiseptic, antifungal, detoxifying, and antioxidant properties that can be ideal for clearing up eczema, fungal infections, and other skin disorders. Coriander oil has also been used for skin applications for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Also, the compounds cineole and linoleic acid in coriander both possess anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties that may help reduce swelling caused by rheumatism and arthritis.
9. Can Fight Infections
The antimicrobial compounds in coriander can help fight certain infections and food-borne illnesses. According to a study, the compound dodecanal may fight bacteria like Salmonella and can be as twice as powerful as an antibiotic compared to the leading treatment for salmonella-based illnesses. Another study also found that coriander seeds can fight the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections.
10. Might Promote a Healthy Vision
Coriander comes with profuse amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and the carotenoid class of antioxidants that can help improve eyesight. The antioxidant and mineral content of coriander also supports the prevention of vision disorders, macular degeneration, and reduction of stress and strain in the eyes.
Tips to Grow Coriander at Home
- Coriander plants cannot withstand a lot of heat. It thrives in temperatures ranging from 62.6° to 80.6° Fahrenheit.
- Coriander sprouts do not do well with transplantation from seed trays to the pot. So, if you are starting to grow coriander at home, remember to sow it directly in pots instead of seed trays.
- The ideal pH of the soil for coriander plants is between 6.2 and 6.8.
- The soil should be well-drained for the plant.
- Coriander plants should be kept in full sun.
- You have to sow the coriander seeds with a distance of about 6 inches in between.
- Bury the seeds about half an inch deep in the prepared potting soil.
- Once you have buried the seeds, cover with a thick layer of fine mulch and water the plant thoroughly.
- Coriander plants need more water during dry weather as there is a danger of over-watering them in humid weather.
- Ensure your plant has a good drainage system to maintain root health and avoid rotting.
- Germination of the coriander seeds happens in about two to three weeks after potting.
- It is crucial to keep trimming the overgrown plants to have enough place for the leaves to grow.
- You must regularly cut off the soft stems and rotate the plant.
Caring for Your Coriander Plant
- Like spinach or lettuce plants, the coriander plant also loves cool weather. It can withstand partially hot weather but not harsh summers.
- To avoid bolting of the plant, sow it directly in the pots.
- Regular watering of the coriander plant is the secret to its long life.
- Mulching the soil is also crucial for keeping the soil cool.
- If you want a steady supply of coriander, plant numerous patches of plants every other or two days during the growing season.
- You can harvest the coriander when the plant reaches about six inches in height.
Fresh Herbs Are the Best
Growing herbs at home are the best for your food and health. The crunchiness of the fresh herbs topped in various dishes is unmatched. Once you become used to growing herbs at home, you will not like going back to the store-bought ones. These herbs are healthy, always at hand’s reach, and in large amounts. You can just cut off from fresh from the plant, wash, and use accordingly. They go well for garnishing meat or whipping up a healthy salad.
Along with growing coriander at home, you can also grow mint in your kitchen gardener. For more information, check out our blog on Why You Should Grow Mint in Your Kitchen Garden.