Cilantro microgreens are my favorite microgreens to eat. Their flavor adds so much freshness to food and can be used as a topping or as an ingredient.
For some reason, many references suggest that cilantro is moderate to difficult to grow. We don't find that to be the case.
Ok, they're not the fastest growing microgreen, but that in itself doesn't make them difficult to grow. We believe the disconnect comes from the passing down misinformation on how to start the seeds.
As you'll see below, cilantro microgreens are easy to grow when you follow a few basic steps and eliminate one that most growers recommend.
This article will outline the steps to follow and those to leave out, as well as discuss the nutritional value of cilantro microgreens.
Growing Cilantro Microgreens
Before we get into the nutritional value of cilantro microgreens, let me outline the few basic steps you'll need to grow them.
If you're more interested in the nutritional information, click this link to skip down to that section.
How to Grow Cilantro Microgreens
Cilantro microgreens are relatively easy to grow but are not the fastest to reach harvest.
The seeds take time to germinate and mature but are well worth the wait. It may take over 20 days before you can harvest the microgreens.
However, cilantro will grow for a long time in the tray and can be harvest over a long period.
The flavor is remarkable, even better than the mature herb, and can be added to more than Mexican cuisines.
Cilantro seeds are unique looking, but a bit fragile as they seem hollow inside and can be easily crushed with rough handling.
It takes between 3- to 6-days for cilantro seeds to germinate depending on the soil temperature.
Cilantro germinates better with cooler temperatures, so using a heat mat isn't necessary. Soaking the seed appears to shorten the germination length, and might also equalize the rate.
However, in the long run, seed that hasn't been soaked does as well as soaked seed. Click this link to see a test we did with soaked and non-soaked cilantro seed.
Note: Some of the images below are of the beta Home Microgreens Trays (opaque trays & red lids). The black trays and opaque lids are the new Home Microgreens Trays. Both are similar-sized, but the later use much less soil and are therefore more economical.
Ten Easy Steps
Below is a list of the ten steps to growing cilantro microgreens. For a more detailed explanation, and to see a video of each step, take a look at Growing Microgreens for the First Time.
Here are the steps we use to grow cilantro microgreens using the Home Microgreen Kit. If you don't have the kit, the photos will show you what you need to grow microgreens. You can click images to expand their size.
Add a premium potting mix to the planting tray. A planting tray needs small holes in the bottom so water can be drawn up from below instead of top watering once the greens have germinated.
The soil should be firmly compacted and level just below the top of the tray. Read this article on why we believe soil is better than seed grow mats.
Use a spray bottle to wet the soil surface with un-chlorinated water. Allow the water to soak into the soil, then respray the surface. If you see depressions or high spots on the soil, use your fingers to level the surface.
Add your cilantro seed to a shaker bottle. A shaker bottle will allow you to spread the seeds more evenly. There are between 2,100 to 2,400 cilantro seeds in an ounce. That's around 80 seeds per gram.
For cilantro, you want about 7 or 8 seeds per square inch. That doesn't sound like many seeds for microgreens, but remember, cilantro is a slower growing microgreen and it isn't harvested until the first true leaves are well formed. So the plants need a bit more space than many microgreens.
If your planting tray surface is 37.5 square-inches you'd add 3.5-grams of cilantro seeds to your shaker bottle. Below is a photo of 3.5-grams cilantro microgreen seeds, or about 3/4 of a tablespoon.
Step 3b (optional)
If you read the article (linked above) Growing Cilantro From Seed – to Soak or Not to Soak the Seed, then you know that pre-soaking the seed may increase the germination rate.
Soaking the seeds for 8- to 24-hours before planting is okay if you want to go through the hassle. The seeds will sprout faster and more consistently, but in the end, it's a wash.
We think it's a wasted step, takes more planning, time, and it's not as easy to spread the seeds once they've been soaked.
Here at Home Microgreens we skip this step and still have beautiful trays of cilantro microgreens.
Now that the soil surface is prepared and the cilantro seeds are in the shaker bottle, it's time to sow them (using the non-soak method).
Start sprinkling seeds onto the soil working in concentric circles around the planting tray. It can be helpful to hold your spare hand around the tray, so seeds don't bounce out of the tray.
Spread the seeds as evenly as possible across the surface. You may need to unscrew the top off the sprinkler bottle to get the last few seeds out of the bottle.
Once all the seeds are out of the bottle, use your finger to spread out clumps of seeds to areas with fewer seeds.
Be careful with how much pressure you put on the cilantro seeds, they will crack if you're not careful.
If you decided to soak your seeds, strain and rinse the seeds with non-chlorinated water and dump them onto the soil surface.
Using your fingers, spread out the clumped seeds as best as you can.
Don't worry if the seeds aren't perfectly spaced. The seeds will grow, and the plants will spread out to fill the voids.
As you can see, there's not much of a difference between the tray with dry seeds and those that are pre-soaked except that the soaked seeds are darker from absorbing more water even though the dry seeds have been sprayed after planting.
Now it's time to prepare the cilantro seeds to germinate. Use the spray bottle again and wet the seeds. Go easy, so the seeds don't fly off the tray. The water will also help settle the seeds into the soil.
Place the planting tray inside the watering tray. A watering tray is one that doesn't have holes and will hold water. Use a similar size tray, like in the Home Microgreen Kit, or you can use a larger tray.
Place a cover on the seeds (don't seal the tray tight), if the cover is transparent or opaque, use a tea towel or cut a piece of cardboard to fit the cover to keep light off the seeds.
Most microgreens can be left on the soil surface, but they need to be covered to keep light off them while they germinate. Cilantro microgreens seeds are no exception.
We have even used soil to cover up the seeds. The additional soil didn't appear to have any benefit with germination or removing the seed husk from the cilantro seedlings.
This is another recommended step by some growers. Since we saw no significant benefit, we don't cover the seeds with soil. Only a plastic cover and towel to blackout the seeds while they germinate.
You can place a weight on top, so the cover doesn't come off. Don't worry, the growing plants are strong and will lift the cover as well as the weight as they grow.
Unlike many microgreens, we don't place cilantro microgreen trays directly on a heat mat. They like cooler temperatures and germinate better around 65- to 70 degrees.
Sometimes we set the cilantro tray high up on a stack if we are planting more than cilantro on any particular day.
Don't do anything for 2- to 3-days. Just let the seeds germinate and grow. The cover will retain enough moisture for the seeds to sprout.
On day 2 you can look at the seeds, and make sure they is plenty of moisture on the soil surface. A spritz of water won't hurt at this point. You may see that some of the seeds have begun to germinate.
After spraying the seeds replace the cover and wait until the 4th day to recheck them.
You'll see that germination has taken place (mostly) and the cilantro seedlings are growing. However, some of the seeds probably haven't germinated, and it might take 6- or 7-days until all that will grow have started.
At this point, you have a decision to make. If the germination rate looks good and the seedlings are a bit further along than the ones in the image below, you can remove the lid and allow the young plants to receive light.
If they're smaller (like those below - see caption), or if the germination is low, check the soil surface to see if it is dry. If so, use the spray bottle and wet the surface again and place the cover back over the tray.
Let the seeds germinate for another day or two before checking on them again.
Now that the cilantro microgreens have germinated and started to root and grow it's time to get them in some light. There's a lot of discussion about what type of light is best for microgreens.
I think it's best to give them as much light as possible.
After all, light is where the plants get their energy to grow. Whether it be sunlight, cheap LED lighting, or a special grow light, give them as much as you can. Don't fret over it, just do the best you can with what you have.
Here's a link to an inexpensive LED shop light.
If the plants look white or yellowish, don't worry, once they receive light they will turn dark green. If the soil surface looks dry, use the spray bottle to wet the surface. But this will be the last time you use the spray bottle.
Let the cilantro microgreens grow and give them water from the bottom. Here's where the watering tray comes into play. Memorize how the weight of the dry tray feels. Judging the weight this way is how you'll know when to water again.
Add water to the watering tray, a quarter of an inch works at first. Set the planting tray in the water and allow it to absorb the water from below.
Watering from the bottom keeps the leaves and stems dry, eliminating the possibility of damping off disease and stopping soil from splashing up on the plants.
The first time you water you may have to add more water because the majority of the soil in the tray is dry. Afterward, you won't need to add as much water.
Every other day check the weight of the tray to see if it needs water. The need will depend on the humidity and amount of air moving across the tray.
Cilantro Microgreens Growth Stages
Below are some photos of cilantro microgreens as they grow. You can compare your growth to these to see how well you're doing. Any problems, use the contact page and reach out to me for suggestions.
Click any photo in this article to expand its size for better viewing.
After 23- to 32-days the cilantro microgreens will be ready to harvest. Once the first true leaves have formed over the majority of the tray, you can start to use them.
Harvest cilantro after the first true leaves form, not during the cotyledon stage.
To harvest, tip the tray about 45-degrees over a cutting board or a large plate and using stainless steel scissors, or a very sharp knife cut the microgreens just above the soil surface.
Try not to disturb the soil. If some soil does spill, it's okay, use your hands to fluff the cut microgreens the soil particles will fall to the board or plate where you can wipe it off.
It's always recommended to wash microgreens before you use them (I don't if they are dry and clean) to be sure no bacteria is on the microgreens.
Cut only what you're going to use that day. Replace the growing tray under the light and let them grow so more.
If you can't use all of your cilantro microgreens before they grow too tall and leggy, cut them and place them in a zip-lock bag with several small slits cut in the bag. Don't wash the microgreens at this point.
You want them dry, as they will stay fresher longer. Squeeze the air out of the bag and store the microgreens in the refrigerator crisper.
That's all there is to growing cilantro microgreens. They take a bit of time but really aren't very hard to grow.
If you have any questions feel free to use the comment section below the article to ask. I'll get right back to you.
Cilantro Microgreen Nutrition & Flavor
According to studies, cilantro microgreens have high levels of Vitamin K, in fact, similar concentration of vitamin K as baby spinach. Cilantro is also a good source of Vitamin C, just slightly lower in concentration than an orange.
Cilantro microgreens contain very high levels of beta carotene (three times more than the mature leaves), which are important for organ function and protecting cells from damage.
They also contain lutein that helps prevent eye degeneration and cataracts.
The concentration of Vitamin E in cilantro microgreens is over six times the amount in a serving of sunflower seeds.
You can download a chart presenting the vitamins and minerals for the most commonly grown microgreens by clicking the button below.
For more in-depth nutritional information about cilantro microgreens and sprouts, you can see a chart published by Heal with Food.
Cilantro Microgreen Flavor and How to Use Them
Cilantro microgreens add fresh flavor to your foods. Cilantro is used in many cuisines such as Latin American and Asian dishes.
They're delicious added to scrambled eggs, in salsas and guacamole, on top of tacos, in stir fry and dips.
We've used them in meatloaf and meatballs and on top of pizza.
Interested in Growing Cilantro Microgreens?
If you'd like to try growing your own at home use the buttons below to take a look at a cilantro microgreen kit or if you have the supplies cilantro microgreen seeds.
Have a Question?
If you have any questions about the information in this post or microgreens in general please leave a comment below or reach out to me using the Ask a Question page.
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