Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) divides the spirits: While it is an indispensable kitchen herb for many, it is avoided by others. This is due to its unique bitter-sweet aroma, often compared to the smell of bugs and caused by aldehydes found in soaps. In fact, part of the name, namely “Koris”, means bug in German and comes from Greek. This is why coriander is also called bugweed or bugdill. Further names are among other things “Asian parsley” or “vertigo”.
Coriander belongs to the family of umbellifers (Apiaceae). The herb originates from the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, where it was already used 2,000 years ago – coriander seeds were already found in the tomb of Tutankhamun (1325 BC). Coriander is also a popular ingredient in Asian and Arabic cuisine. Both the leaves of the kitchen herb serve as a seasoning and its spherical seeds.
The annual, herbaceous plant forms a thin spindle root from which a 30 to 70 centimeter high, grooved stem grows. The whole plant smells somewhat unpleasant when fresh.
Two leaf forms develop on the branched branches of the coriander: The basal leaves are single to double pinnate and rounded in shape, while the upper leaves, with their pointed pinnate sections, are multiple pinnate and sharper in taste.
From June to July, flat, white to pink umbels appear at the stem ends. Then coriander is a magnet for hoverflies and other beneficial insects. If you let it bloom, coriander can grow up to one meter high.
Between August and September, the spherical, grooved coriander fruits, up to five millimetres in size and greenish-yellow to brown in colour, develop. They contain essential oil and therefore have a strong aromatic aroma – slightly reminiscent of orange peels.
Coriander thrives in a sunny, warm and sheltered location. Leaf coriander, on the other hand, prefers a semi-shady to shady place in the bed. In crop rotation, make sure to grow coriander in the same place only every four years. The seasoning herb is suitable for mixed cultures, suitable neighbours are lettuce and cabbage types. With its typical scent, coriander attracts beneficial insects, but at the same time it also dispels pests such as cabbage louse and cabbage white butterfly. Because the herb thrives well in wind-protected places, it can also be planted between higher vegetables. Coriander as well as leaf coriander are suitable for pot culture. On sunny, hot balconies and terraces you should shade the leaf coriander.
As a weak eater, coriander grows best on permeable, calcareous and loose soils.
Coriander is sown directly outdoors. Before sowing it is important to loosen the soil well. However, the bed should not be freshly fertilized, as this increases the susceptibility of coriander to aphids and fungal diseases. The seeds are sown from April to June in rows of 20 to 30 centimeters apart and lightly covered with soil. After germination, the young plants are separated to 15 centimeters. Alternatively, you can sow under glass at about 18 degrees Celsius as early as the end of February and then isolate the young plants as well. Light frosts don’t bother the herb. Leaf coriander can even be sown as early as March.
In the growing phase, regular watering is important to prevent premature shooting. A loosened soil and the removal of weeds promote the growth of the coriander. After the seed harvest you can remove the plants and dig around the bed.
Harvesting and conservation
Four to six weeks after sowing, coriander is ready for harvesting. The seeds should be harvested shortly before they are fully ripe, otherwise they will detach easily from the cone and fall out on the bed. Ideally, the seeds should be harvested early in the morning, when the dew is on the seed stalls, so that the seeds do not roll away so quickly. Hang the stems up to dry, then shake out the ripe grains and keep the seeds in tightly closed containers protected from light. In a mortar, the crushed grains give biscuits an orange note and season fish or vegetable stock as well as sauces, marinades and homemade liqueurs. Coriander is also an important ingredient in many curry blends and you can pick the coriander leaves according to your needs. Be careful to harvest only the lower leaves so that the plant sprouts again. The leaves are freshly processed and season salads, oriental fish, lamb and bean dishes as well as stews with their aroma. The seasoning herb is also an integral part of many recipes in Indian cuisine. The often soapy aroma, however, is not everyone’s cup of tea.
The leaves and seeds stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. The essential oil has a fungicidal and antibacterial effect. Crushed coriander seeds can be brewed with fennel and caraway seeds and drunk as tea to combat flatulence.
There are several related species and varieties, some bred for leaf quality, others for fruit quality (“leaf and spice coriander”). The leaves of the leaf coriander resemble those of the flat-leaved parsley, with which it is also related. A popular leaf coriander variety that grows up to 50 centimeters high and forms many delicately aromatic leaves is ‘Santo’. Other well-known leaf coriander are ‘Cilantro’ and ‘Leisure’. Because ‘Cilantro’ does not flower so quickly, its tasty leaves can be harvested over a longer period of time. Leisure’ thrives well in pots, produces enough leaves and forms seeds late. The spice coriander variety ‘Thüringer’ thrives best in the Central European climate. Morrocan’ is grown only for the production of seeds.
Coriander is propagated by sowing. Coriander also likes to sow itself in the bed.
Diseases and pests
Powdery mildew, which can occur in warm, humid weather, leads to a whitish coating on the leaves. As a precaution you should keep a sufficient distance between the plants and always water in the morning or at noon. Biological agents based on lecithin or vegetable broths from field horsetail also help.
Coriander in the our store-Shop
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.