Coriander is a sparsely branched hardy annual used as a dried herb in curries, chutneys, or sprinkled on cakes, bread, milk puddings and cream cheeses.
Both the seeds and the leaves of the plant can be used, and offer two distinct flavours.
The seeds have a slight lemony flavour,and they are often ground and used as a spice.
The slightly bitter leaves can be chopped up and added to dishes as a garnish.
Plants generally grow to around 500-600mm (18”-24”) high with a 250-300mm (10”-12”) spread.
Tiny pale purple flowers are borne in loose, clustered heads during June and July.
The flower heads attract beneficial insects into the garden.
Stressed plants have a tendancy to flower and produce seeds prematurely.
This is fine if you are growing the plant for its seeds, but not if you are growing it for its leaves.
Removing premature flowers will encourage plants to focus their energy on growing new leaves.
Coriander does not take kindly to transplanting, so it is better to sow seeds directly into light fertile, well-drained soil.
They like a sunny spot although they will tolerate some shade for short periods of the day.
Seedlings should be thinned out to 150-200mm (6”-8”) apart, when large enough to handle.
Seeds may take up to three weeks to germinate.
Coriander does well in containers and can be grown on a sunny windowsill or patio.
Select a deep container to cater for the plants long tap root.
Scatter seeds on the surface of the compost and cover with soil, watering well.
Care for the plants as you would if they were in the ground.
You may be required to water them more often, as pots can dry out quite quickly.
Sow the seeds in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 10°- 12°C (50°- 54°F).
Transplanted plants are prone to premature flowering and seeding.
Successional monthly sowings can help to alleviate this problem.
Prick out seedlings into 70mm (3”) pots of potting compost and grow on in a cold-frame until planting out time.
Plant out in a sunny spot 150-200mm (6”-8”) apart.
Water plants regularly throughout the season to ensure they never dry out.
Feeding is not normally required if the soil has been well prepared before sowing.
Harvest the leaves by picking or cutting off individual leaves from the stem.
Both the leaves and the stalks can be used so snip the whole stems off if necessary.
If seeds are required, wait until the flowers have died off before harvesting.
Cut the stems and place the heads of the coriander in a paper bag, with the stems sticking out.
Tie the stems and the neck of the bag together in a bunch and hang upside down in a cool, dry place.
After a few weeks, shake the bag to dislodge the seeds, remove the stems and save the seeds in the paper bag until required.