Mexican Coriander, also known as Culantro or sawtooth herb, is a versatile and flavorful herb that is commonly used in Latin American and Asian cuisines. Often people confuse it with cilantro. It provides a unique and robust taste that is often preferred over its cousin, cilantro. If you’re interested in growing and caring for Mexican coriander in your garden, this article will provide you with the necessary steps to ensure successful cultivation.
Mexican Coriander (Eryngium foetidum) is a herbaceous plant native to South America and the Caribbean. It has long, serrated leaves and a pungent aroma. The leaves grow in a rosette-like formation and can reach up to six inches in length. Unlike cilantro, culantro’s leaves are more robust and can withstand heat and longer cooking times, making it a preferred choice in many cuisines. Its flavour is often described as combining cilantro, parsley, and a hint of citrus.
|Mexican Coriander, Culantro
|Up to 12 inches tall
|Partial shade to full sun
|Slightly acidic to neutral
|White to pale green
|USDA zones 10-11
Table of Contents
Growing Mexican Coriander
When it comes to growing Mexican coriander, it is relatively easy to cultivate. It’s best to start with seeds, which can be obtained from a reputable seed supplier or through online. To cultivate culantro at home, select a location that receives partial shade, as Mexican coriander prefers protection from direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
If you’re growing Coriander in a container, choose a spot that receives adequate sunlight and has good air circulation. A balcony, patio, or sunny windowsill can serve as an ideal location for container gardening.
Planting Mexican coriander
- Start by obtaining high-quality Mexican coriander seeds from a reliable source.
- Choose a location that receives partial shade as Mexican coriander prefers to be protected from direct sunlight.
- Prepare the soil by adding organic matter like compost to improve fertility and drainage.
- Sow the seeds directly into the soil, spacing them about 6-8 inches apart.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water gently.
- Keep the soil consistently moist during the germination period, which usually takes around 1-2 weeks.
- Once the seedlings have grown to a height of 2-3 inches, thin them out by removing the weaker ones, allowing adequate space for the remaining plants to grow.
Mexican coriander can be grown from seeds or seedlings, depending on your preference and availability. If starting from seeds, sow them directly into the prepared soil or container. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil’s surface and lightly press them into the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
Culantro (Mexican coriander) plant care
This herbaceous plant adds a unique flavour and taste to various dishes. Proper plant care is essential to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest of this flavorful herb. Choose a spot with well-draining soil and a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C). If you prefer growing it indoors, place the plant near a south-facing window to ensure it receives adequate light.
Before planting, prepare the soil by removing weeds and incorporating organic matter such as compost. Incorporating perlite or vermiculite can also help enhance drainage and prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.
If you’re growing Mexican coriander in a container, use a high-quality potting mix designed for herbs and vegetables. Ensure that the container has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to escape freely.
Watering and Fertilizing
Mexican coriander prefers consistently moist soil, so it’s important to water it regularly, especially during dry periods or hot weather. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
Choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for herbs or vegetables. Avoid overfertilizing, as excessive nitrogen can result in lush foliage at the expense of flavour. A balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal for promoting overall plant health and productivity.
Regular pruning helps maintain the shape and vigour of Mexican coriander plants and encourages continuous growth and production of fresh leaves. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to remove any yellowing or damaged leaves. Prune the plants selectively to thin out overcrowded areas and promote better air circulation, which can help reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Common pests and plant diseases can threaten the health of Mexican plants, requiring vigilant management. Aphids and spider mites are common pests that can distort leaves and sap plant vitality. Leaf miners also pose a threat by digging holes through leaves.
For fungal diseases, pruning infected foliage, improving air circulation, and applying fungicidal treatments are necessary. Copper or sulfur-based fungicides are common choices.
Adopting proactive measures ensures Mexican plants remain healthy and productive throughout the growing season. With attentive care and sustainable practices, Mexican coriander growers can mitigate the impact of pests and diseases, safeguarding their crops and ensuring a bountiful harvest.
How to Grow Culantro Indoors
- Select a pot with drainage holes that are at least 8-12 inches deep to accommodate the deep roots of culantro (Mexican coriander).
- Fill the container with a high-quality potting mix that provides good drainage.
- Place the container in a spot that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight per day, such as a south-facing window or balcony.
- Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, by watering the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
- Ensure good air circulation around the plant to prevent fungal diseases and promote healthy growth.
- Feed the culantro plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
- Harvest culantro leaves as needed once the plant reaches a mature size, taking care not to remove more than one-third of the foliage at a time.
- Rotate the container occasionally to ensure even sunlight exposure and prevent the plant from leaning towards the light source.
How to Propagate Culantro
How to grow culantro from seed
- Culantro seeds can be easily propagated.
- Sow seeds directly into well-prepared soil or containers.
- Ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged during the germination process (1-2 weeks).
- Thin seedlings to allow proper spacing once they have emerged and developed strong roots.
- Protect from harsh sunlight and maintain consistent moisture levels to support healthy seedling growth.
- Transplant seedlings into the garden or larger containers once they have established strong roots and developed several sets of true leaves.
How to grow culantro from cuttings
- Take cuttings from healthy, mature plants, ensuring they have at least 3-4 inches of stem.
- Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to take the cuttings, making sure to remove any flowers or flower buds.
- Remove the lower leaves from the cutting, leaving only a few leaves at the top.
- Place the cutting in a container of water or well-drained soil.
- Keep the cutting consistently moist until roots develop, which typically takes several weeks.
- Once roots have formed, transplant the cutting into the garden or larger containers.
culantro vs cilantro
Culantro and cilantro are two distinct herbs often confused due to their similar names and appearances, yet they offer different flavours and culinary uses. Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) boasts long, serrated leaves and a robust, pungent flavour similar to cilantro. It is a staple in Caribbean, Latin American, and Southeast Asian cuisines, lending depth to dishes like sofrito and curry.
On the other hand, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) features delicate, fan-shaped leaves and a lighter, citrusy flavour with hints of parsley and lemon. It is commonly used in fresh salsas, salads, and garnishes, adding a refreshing zing to Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Mexican coriander is a delicate herb and may not survive in areas with frost or extremely cold temperatures. If you live in a cold climate, consider growing it as an annual or bring potted plants indoors during winter.
Ensure the plants receive adequate sunlight and water during winter, and maintain a temperature between 60-70°F (15-21°C). Consider using artificial grow lights if natural sunlight is limited.
Mexican coriander (Culantro) Recipes
To experience the full flavour of culantro, try incorporating it into your favourite recipes. From hearty soups and savoury stews to zesty sauces and aromatic rice dishes, culantro adds depth and complexity to a wide range of culinary creations. Here are a few simple recipes to get you started
- Culantro Pesto: Blend fresh culantro leaves with garlic, nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese for a bold and flavorful pesto sauce. Toss with pasta or use as a marinade for grilled meats and vegetables.
- Caribbean Sofrito: Combine culantro, onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use as a base for rice and beans, soups, and braised meats for a taste of the Caribbean.
- Thai and Vietnamese cuisines: culantro leaves are prized for their aromatic qualities and are often used in dishes like pho and green curry. One popular Thai dish, known as larb, features finely chopped meat seasoned with culantro, lime juice, fish sauce, and chilli peppers, creating a vibrant and flavorful salad bursting with Thai flavours.
Culantro (Mexican coriander) benefits
Culantro offers a range of culinary and health benefits, making it a valuable addition to various cuisines. In terms of flavour, culantro boasts a robust and pungent taste, distinct from its relative cilantro. Culantro is rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. These nutrients contribute to overall health, supporting immune function, promoting healthy vision, and aiding in bone strength.
How long does culantro take to grow?
Culantro typically takes about 8-10 weeks to reach maturity from seedling stage. However, this may vary depending on growing conditions and climate.
What does culantro taste like?
Culantro has a robust and pungent flavour, distinct from cilantro. It offers citrusy, earthy, and slightly peppery notes, adding depth to dishes.
What is culantro used for?
Culantro is used as a flavorful herb in various cuisines, including Latin American, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian. It is commonly used in soups, stews, sauces, marinades, and rice dishes.
What does Mexican coriander taste like?
Mexican coriander, also known as culantro, has a similar taste profile to culantro. It offers robust and pungent flavours, with hints of citrus and earthiness.
What are the two types of dhaniya?
Dhaniya refers to coriander in Hindi. In Indian cuisine, there are two types: the leaves, known as “hara dhaniya” or cilantro, and the seeds, known as “sukha dhaniya” or coriander seeds. Both are widely used in cooking for their distinct flavours and culinary applications.