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Transplanting Cilantro – Most Common Issues and Solutions

Transplanting Cilantro – Most Common Issues and Solutions

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Paul Brown

Cilantro is a popular herb commonly used as an aromatic ingredient in various Asian, Latin, or Mediterranean dishes. However, its popularity is pretty interesting in that some people have a relatively strong dislike of its smell, which other people find appealing. Cilantro loves the outdoors as it enjoys bright sunlight in spring or autumn, but how can you transplant it?

When transplanting cilantro, the most common issues include wilting and plant death. The most common solutions include the right nutrients within the soil, the right amount of water, and 4-6 hours of morning sunlight. Then you need to protect them from the hot afternoon sun, or they will die.

Cilantro is highly sensitive to an increase in temperature and becomes inedible with bitter-tasting leaves when exposed to high temperatures, mainly in summer. Therefore, you must be careful when transplanting them. If you want to learn more about transplanting cilantro, including the most common issues and solutions, stick around.

Can You Transplant Cilantro? 

The demand for cilantro is pretty high in many cuisines, such as Mexican, Mediterranean, Chinese, Indian, and Thai. As a result, chefs specializing in these kinds of cuisines tend to raise their cilantro in pots or gardens to ensure a steady supply.

You can transplant cilantro, but It’s rather challenging because of the plant’s extensive tap root system. To do so, you need to have the right kind of soil, enough plot space, and good timing as the plant is sensitive to changes in temperature.

To ensure that your cilantro does not die shortly after transplanting, check out some helpful tips below.

Use the Right Kind of Soil

Cilantro prefers well-drained loamy or sandy soil (source). It can also thrive in many other soil types as long as there is a controlled level of nutrients and moisture. You should also add fertilizer twice in a season so that the soil can provide the nutrients needed for vulnerable plants.

Provide Enough Pot Space

When transplanting cilantro seedlings into your plot, allot 8”-10” (20-25 cm) between seedlings. This much space is necessary for the plant to have enough room for its foliage to grow. After all, most people harvest the leaves for their dishes. 

You must also provide enough space for its taproot to grow downward, so the soil must be at least 10” (25 cm) deep.

Pay Attention to the Temperature

Cilantro grows quickly, but the leaves don’t stay useful for a long time. 

A seedling ready for transplanting produces foliage, which is ready for harvest after only three weeks. However, when temperatures rise beyond 85℉ (29℃), the plant’s leaves become bitter and inedible.

When Can You Transplant Cilantro? 

Cilantro prefers cool weather and tends to die in a hot climate. As a result, they bolt in summer to ensure a new generation of plants when the temperature cools down. Bolting in agriculture refers to a plant’s mechanism that enables it to produce flowers and spread its seed, which results in inedible leaves.

The best time to transplant cilantro is in spring or autumn. Ideally, it’s best to do it in early February and early September when the temperature is between 50-85℉ (10-26℃). It takes 3-4 weeks for the cilantro leaves to be ready for harvest and the harvest period lasts for only another 3-4 weeks. 

If you need a steady supply of cilantro for home kitchen or restaurant use, you need to grow a new batch of cilantro seedlings every week.

For instance, if you plant a seed in a small pot and it starts to germinate well, you can transplant it into a bigger pot or a more spacious plot in the garden. As you harvest the leaves, a new batch starts to grow, and the cycle continues. 

In hot summer months, however, it’ll be impossible to prevent the plant from bolting. 

As a result, many chefs and home cooks harvest and use the plants’ seeds, also known as coriander, in summer because they can be used in many dishes when dried.

How Well Does Cilantro Transplant? 

Cilantro is pretty easy to grow but might be quite tricky to transplant. That’s why most people plant them in a fixed location from seeds until they start flowering and produce new seeds. This cycle is more natural and less troublesome.

Cilantro transplants decently, as they may grow as well as those that were planted on a fixed spot from seeds. You just have to make sure that all the conditions are met, such as soil with good drainage, a cool climate, and a sufficient water supply. 

It’s also a good idea to transplant cilantro if you have limited space and containers. 

You can grow them in batches, but the seeds in the smaller pots need careful monitoring and plenty of time in the shade. Meanwhile, you can transplant the hardy seedlings into a wider space under the filtered morning sun and with little supervision. 

Snip the stems and collect the leaves frequently so that you may harvest more leaves for a longer time and somehow delay bolting.

How To Transplant Cilantro 

Transplanting cilantro is challenging for beginners, but it can become pretty natural and even easy once you get the hang of it. That’s why many restaurants serve signature dishes using cilantro almost all year round.

Let’s go over the steps you need to take to ensure healthy cilantro.

1. Grow Your Seeds Until They Are Sturdy Enough To Transplant

You’ll need to grow cilantro seeds in small pots in the nursery until they germinate and become sturdy enough to be transferred into bigger pots or out into garden soil. 

You’ll want to check if the plant has established a sound root system and grown enough foliage.

Ideally, coriander seeds need slightly acidic potting soil with a pH level of 6.5, so you might want to add organic compost while in the nursery. Once you transplant the seedling into your garden, it’ll thrive in your regular and well-draining garden soil. 

When transplanting, you don’t need to remove the potting soil around the roots of the seedling. Instead, you must dig deep and wide enough, up to 10” by 8” (25 cm by 20 cm), into the soil and place the seedling into the hole along with its potting soil. 

You may then cover it up with your garden soil. That way, you can ensure that you are not destroying the young plant’s root system.

Here’s a video tutorial showing one way to transplant cilantro: 

How to Transplant Cilantro : The Chef's Garden

2. Give Your Plants Bright Morning Sunlight

Coriander seeds in small pots need to be grown indoors with sporadic sunlight. 

This setup can help reduce moisture loss and encourage the seeds to germinate. After around two weeks, when the seedling grows some leaves and reaches about 2”-3” (5-8 cm) in height, it is ready to be replanted.

Transplanting the seedling into a larger pot is highly recommended as you can quickly transfer the pot indoors when outdoor conditions become too hot or too rainy. 

These conditions can be very bad for your plant, and they may even stunt its growth.

However, if you decide to transplant it in the garden, ensure that your transplanted cilantro seedling gets partial shade, which means exposure to 4-6 hours of bright morning sunlight and protection from the intense afternoon sun. 

An east-facing garden is ideal for transplanted cilantro because it can receive sufficient morning sunlight and shade from the burning afternoon sun. You may also place your cilantro seedlings underneath a canopy of hanging vegetables as long as they can receive bright, filtered sunlight all day.

3. Apply Fertilizer or Nutrients To the Soil

Cilantro seedlings need nitrogen-rich fertilizers for healthier and bushier foliage. 

However, plants in well-draining pots with similarly well-draining soil tend to lose nutrients quickly through regular watering. That’s why it’s best to apply fertilizer once every other week.

You may want to apply other fertilizers, such as 1-2 tsp (4.93 – 9.86 ml) of Epsom salt per gallon (3.79 L) of water (source). 

Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, which are essential for plant growth. Some studies showed that spraying the solution directly onto the leaves once a month can produce healthier leaves. 

4. Water the Seedlings Only When Necessary

Cilantro seedlings ready for transplanting do not require much water in spring and autumn when temperatures are between 50 and 70℉ (10-21℃). Soggy soil can cause root rot in your cilantro, so to ensure that you can harvest healthy foliage from your plant, be careful when watering it. 

Also, water the plant only when necessary. 

You can keep the soil moist and damp by using a spray bottle instead of pouring water directly into it. Soil with good drainage can help prevent water from accumulating around the roots. However, it can also have difficulty with nutrient retention.

Therefore, using a watering can with gentle water flow or a spray bottle helps you control the amount of water the soil receives and reduce the risk of flushing away essential nutrients present in the ground.

Cilantro Can Wilt After Transplant

As discussed, cilantro is not exactly fond of being transplanted as they are usually planted directly into a deep pot or the ground from seeds. Therefore, gardeners pay much attention to details when transplanting the herb.

As long as you follow the steps to transplant cilantro, chances are you’ll have a healthy, happy plant. However, if it starts wilting a few days or weeks later, something must have gone amiss. 

Let’s look at some possible reasons.

The Soil Didn’t Have Enough Nutrients

For the cilantro’s root and foliage to continue growing, there must be enough nitrogen, phosphates, and potassium in the soil. In addition, there must also be sufficient amounts of sulfur and magnesium.

Often, the nutrients are washed away by rain or excessive watering, so the plants cannot access them easily. Also, the roots are sometimes not long enough to reach these nutrients in your garden soil. 

That’s why it’s important to supply enough nutrients directly into the soil surrounding your transplanted cilantro or use organic compost naturally rich in essential minerals. Some people also spray Epsom salt solution directly on the leaves for faster absorption.

There Wasn’t Enough Moisture

When you transplant the cilantro into an outdoor garden, you must ensure that it can get enough moisture from the soil and that its roots have access to water. 

A lack of water in the soil can cause the leaves to wilt.

To preserve sufficient moisture for the plant, you can put mulch above the garden soil. This method also reduces the need to frequently water the plant and lowers the soil temperature, thus protecting your cilantro from wilting and delaying bolting.

There Was Too Much Water

Wilted leaves can be a sign of root rot, which occurs when there is too much water around the roots underneath the soil. That’s why you must use sandy or loamy soil with pretty good drainage. 

Root rot can also infect the soil as fungi and other diseases may thrive in the decayed roots and spread to nearby plants. 

As such, you may need to transplant the other cilantro seedlings into an uninfected plot.

The Weather Was Too Hot

Too much heat can cause the soil to lose moisture more quickly through vapor, disabling the plant from getting the moisture it needs. Also, plants lose more water during transpiration than they can absorb through their roots. 

It can cause the leaves to wilt and the plant to eventually die.

During hot weather with temperatures over 80℉ (26.67℃), increase the watering frequency instead of increasing the amount of water you feed your plant. It can ensure that there is only enough water for the roots to absorb and not for fungi and pests to feed on.

Final Thoughts

There are mixed opinions about the use of cilantro and coriander seeds in various cuisines, but there’s no doubt that they are pretty popular ingredients in several ethnic dishes. If you’re a huge fan of the herb and crave dishes that use it during summer or winter, it’s best to grow your cilantro indoors for a steady supply all year round

The steps discussed in this article may seem troublesome, but they’re pretty doable and definitely worth it!

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