How to Grow Culantro

(Cómo Sembrar el Culantro)

28 Comments

Culantro is a tropical perennial herb that is native to Mexico, Central and South America.  The Taíno Indians also cultivated the culantro in Puerto Rico.  The leaf is green with long jagged edges (spiny).  The culantro has a strong aromatic scent.   We also refer to the culantro by the term “recao” in Puerto Rico.

The culantro is an integral part of the Puerto Rican cookery.  Once the culantro is added to the dish you are preparing, a pleasant aromatic scent is immediately released by the culantro.  This fragrant spice herb is what gives our cuisine its unique flavor and aroma.

Every summer I grow my own culantro in long planters and place them on my deck away from direct sunlight.  Every morning I spray a fine mist on my plants to keep the soil moist.  They will start growing after 3 months but the wait is worth it.  I never thought that I would be able to grow culantro in the Midwest due to the fact that the temperature can vary drastically even during the summer months.

Where Do You Purchase the Seeds?

For this illustration, I purchased the Viablekitchen seeds online.  They contain 10,000 plus seeds in each package.

I also purchased another brand online directly from Puerto Rico:  Gonzalez Agrogardens.  Chose the brand of your preference but just make sure that words Culantro and/or Recao are written on the envelopes.

The seeds are tiny round dark brown specks similar to the appearance of poppy seeds.   

Let’s Discuss the Flower Box and Potting Soil!

The flower box that I normally use to plant the culantro seeds is 8″ (Width) x 29″ (Length) x 6½” (Depth).

For this illustration, I purchased Schultz Moisture Plus Potting Mix.   However, you can purchase the brand of your preference.

We Are Ready to Plant the Seeds!

Fill the flower box with the potting mix.  Spread the seeds evenly on top of soil, starting at the top of the flower box all the way to the bottom.  

NOTE:  One packet of seeds should cover at least 5 flower boxes.

Fill a spray bottle with water.  Spray a fine mist on top of the potting soil and seeds, starting from the top of the flower box all the way to the bottom.  Repeat this process until the potting soil is moist not soaking wet.  

Follow Up Instructions!

Never cover the seeds with soil.  The seeds need to be exposed on top of the soil.  Place the flower box in a shady area away from direct sun.  Every morning spray a cool mist on the potting soil to maintain the soil moist for 3 to 4 months.  Therefore, you never pour water onto the potting soil.  The outdoor temperature should be between 80°F to 85°F.  It takes approximately 14 to 28 days for the seeds to germinate.  Once the seeds start to germinate, you will need to patiently wait another 3 months to be able to harvest the culantro.

Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Grow Culantro!

Category: Gardening

28 Comments. Leave new

  • Can I grow this in my closet? I live in an apartment building so I do not have access to a yard.

    Reply
    • Hi Rosa, If your closet has no windows, I believe it would be difficult to grow culantro (but not impossible) because culantro requires sunlight (but not direct sunlight) and an optimal temperature of 80°F for the seeds to germinate. I keep my culantro plant near a kitchen window with a warming pad under the planter and sunlight lamp on top in an open space during the cold winter months in the Midwest. I do not recommend this technique in a non-ventilated environment like your closet. Other individuals plant their seeds in a regular planter and keep the planter indoors on a stand in the living room. I would suggest for you to go to your nearby nursery center and ask for recommendations!

      Reply
    • Hi Aida thank you for your great video. Question for you, I started germination on 10/11/23 covered with saran wrap in a plastic food container (to retain moisture and act as a “greenhouse”). As of today 10/27/23 they are about 1/2 an inch tall. I have been misting when needed. When can I remove the plastic wrap? Now?

      Reply
      • Hola Jessica, What a great idea covering the food container with saran wrap to retain moisture. The hard part of growing culantro is to get the seeds to germinate. Since you have accomplished that and they are already 1/2 inch tall, you can remove the saran wrap. Make sure you keep the plant from direct sunlight and keep it moist by misting it when needed. I don’t know if the culantro that you are growing is kept indoors or outdoors but make sure you have the right temperature as well.

        Reply
  • I purchased my recao plant on line. First I placed it on my kitchen window but it started to flower; so after cutting the stalks, I moved it to my living room where it gets light but no sun. It stopped flowering but it is getting brown at the point of the leaves. Some advice?

    Reply
    • Hi Gladys, If the soil is too wet, the leaves will turn brown. I only mist the soil every morning with a spray water bottle after checking the soil for wetness even when the leaves are long. You bought the plant online so it will need some sunlight especially if the leaves are approximately 2 inches long. Cutting the stalk where the flower and seeds are located, will allow the recao leaves to grow more but will not cause the leaves to turn brown. No direct sun should be on the soil when the initial seeds are planted on top of soil until the leaves are approximately 2 inches long (approximately 70 days) and depending on the indoor and outdoor temperature. Once the leaves are 2 inches long, it will need some sunlight.

      Reply
  • Barbara Evans
    April 11, 2022 11:24 am

    I am so impressed with you!!! You explain everything so clearly. I like to cook and I am adventurous. Years ago some folk from Puerto Rico brought me stuffed plantains. They were so good! I’m going to give them a try. I’m also going to grow herbs used in your food. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Hi Barbara, Thank you for your lovely comment. Many individuals have expressed how much they appreciate the detail explanation for both my food blogging website and YouTube videos. I feel a cooking video and/or food blogging post should have sufficient information so that anyone will be able to prepare the recipe or grow the vegetation whether you are Latin or Non-Latin. Enjoy your week.

      Reply
  • Raquel Hebbert
    July 9, 2022 8:06 pm

    Ty Aida bcz I had no idea about planting the cilantro mill gracias Aida

    Reply
  • Do you think it will do good under grow lights? I have a plant I grew this summer from home PR.?

    Reply
  • I need to transport cut Culantro to bring to someone on a plane. How do I keep the leaves from wilting? It’s an 8 hr trip.

    Reply
    • Hi Esther, I usually place the culantro leaves in a plastic bag with enough water to keep the culantro leaves moist. They usually keep fresh for one week in the refrigerator. Hopefully, they will do the same in the plane.

      Reply
  • Should the culantro planters be kept out of the rain?

    Reply
    • Hi Richard, The culantro can be kept outdoors whether it rains or not as long as it is not pouring rain with strong winds when you initially place the culantro outdoors. I usually check the weather the week of planting the culantro outdoors to make sure it is a hot day and little to no rain in the forecast. This will help the seeds to take root before it is exposed to a lot of rain.

      Reply
  • Marek Busiakiewicz
    April 18, 2023 3:46 pm

    I woułd lile to grow culantro in pots.
    What substrate I need to give.
    Marek ( Poland/ Europę/

    Reply
  • Hey Aida, we’re already reaching the 80s here in Cleveland. What the lowest temp recao can be kept outside? The 60s?

    Reply
    • Hi Rey, The temperatures can vary in the Midwest even during the summer months. The lowest temperature during the summer months (June through August) in Indiana is between 59°F to 64°F and the plants have survived.

      Reply
  • Isn’t using 10,000 seeds for a container that is only 8-inches by 29-seeds WAAAAY too much? I would have thought that that even 50 seeds would be more than enough. Just wondering.
    Also, if the ideal germination temperature is 80-to-85°F, is that the ideal growing temperature too?
    Thirdly, would growing this in a closet with an open door be okay? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hola J.J.B, You are correct and that is why I only spread enough seeds to cover the top of the soil for each container. Therefore, I do not use all 10,000 seeds for one container. If you listen closely to the video when I am done spreading the seeds on top of the soil, you can hear the remaining seeds reentering inside the envelope. However, I do state on my food blogging website to spread all the seeds from the envelope and that is incorrect. I will definitely make the necessary correction on that statement on my food blog website. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Yes, culantro is an herb that needs 80°F to 85°F to germinate and grow. Since culantro prefers warm, moist and shady conditions, I don’t believe they will do well in a closet but you can also experiment with using that method.

      Reply
  • Hi I am from Poland ( Europe).
    How to make good soil for Culantro ?
    I would like to grow it in pots during our short
    summer.
    Marek

    Reply
    • Hola Marek, Regarding good soil, I only purchase organic soil at the gardening center. I would recommend to use a growing light (indoor) for the culantro since you have a short summer.

      Reply
  • After harvest the cilantro can this be cut.. after cutting the harvest will it grow more?

    Reply
    • Hola Rosa, We normally cut off the leaves needed to use in our cooking from the plant. However, each culantro plant has a flower stalk and head. The flower head is initially green with cluster of seeds. When they turn brown, the seeds are mature and can be spread on top of soil to grow more culantro. Many individuals store the seeds for next year’s planting. You can grow culantro from cuttings as well. There are many instructions online on the two popular methods of growing culantro: seeds and cuttings.

      Reply

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