A petulant child? – Growing Coriander

I like living in Melbourne, I like living in Melbourne’s suburbs, they are; friendly, feel safe,  have a down to earth vibe and are vibrant.  What’s not to like?  Well coriander doesn’t seem to see it that way.  Instead it refuses to germinate, gets itself eaten by slugs and snails,  decides to go to seed instead of producing leaves, yellows and dies for no reason and basically behaves like a petulant child.  Frankly I’m not impressed!!!!  Having said all that I am very excited as I do currently have some nice healthy plants in my garden which are doing what they should do – that is produce leaves at a rate greater than I want to eat them.

How I grow it:

The simple answer to this is probably fairly unsuccessfully – however there are some things that have worked.  When I want to sow seeds then I try and start sowing in mid Autumn and then sow them fortnightly from then on until everything I sow bolts so quickly it is no longer worth attempting (this seems to start happening about mid Spring).

In general the plants that seem to grow best are Autumn planted (or sown) which means they get to do their main growing in winter.  The cold seems to inhibit their desire to go to seed.  I have had more success buying seedlings than sowing seed.  By buying seedlings I have avoided both germination issues and the really young stage when my plants often get eaten by slugs etc.  Buying seedlings hasn’t been foulproof – they can still bolt before you want them to, some still die for no apparent reason but it does seem easier than sowing seed.

I do get the occasional coriander plant self seeding which is nice but obviously can’t be relied upon if you want regular crops.

I have grown coriander successfully in pots – as it does like a bit of room, I have had most success with pots that are at least 20cm in diameter – one plant per pot.

Coriander grows happily in both sun and shade as long as the shade is well lit.    I have parts of my main bed which the sun doesn’t reach in winter (due to being near the house) but gets lots of light and the coriander likes it here – it copes less well planted under my tamarillo where the shade is a lot deeper.


I currently have about 10 plants scattered throughout the garden and in pots and I plan to plant another punnet of seedlings within the next week or two.  When these plants look like going to seed I will cut the emerging flower heads out of about half to try and encourage more leaf production – the remainder I will leave to go to seed – both for the bee attracting qualities and for the seed itself which I also use in cooking.  If I plan to collect seed to replant then I will collect it from the last plant to start to flower as this is the characteristic I most value.  I do use the roots to make curry paste – if I have a lot of plants then when some look like bolting I will often harvest those plants for roots and then start again with new seedlings.

I do wish coriander was a bit easier – I love using it and the plants themselves are attractive so I will persevere and perhaps one day perfect its cultivation.  In the meantime if anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated.

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6 Responses to A petulant child? – Growing Coriander

  1. Diana says:

    I also don’t succeed well growing coriander after spring they bolt so easily. The best time are fall and winter as you mentioned. Coriander seeds are nice for marinades.

    • Liz says:

      Ah perhaps its not just Melbourne they dont like….or perhaps I should look at it another way – they are so keen to stay that they are impatient to seed in…..hmmmmm maybe one day someone will develop a variety that really doesn’t want to go to seed.

      • Yvonne says:

        Hi Liz,

        Just tumble across your blog recently,I found your planting guide are very related to where I live, plus really enjoy reading them, very practical and down to earth opinion.

        I am also from the North East of Melbourne same as your area, I must admit that I am right opposite, Coriander from seeds is just like a piece of cake to me on my garden bed.

        I had just have a very sucessful crop sown from seeds in early Feb, I am now on another crop from the seeds sown since late April (I bought the cheap seeds from Bunnings with the brand Country Value around $1.40 a pack).

        I tend to sow my seeds on the front of the garden bed (I have a long garden bed next to the wall) where it could expose to the best sunshine & fresh air, surprisingly that even with the cold May weather, it manages to pop out (compared with the Asian Bok Choy and Garlic Chive sown in the same time but did not geminate well with the cold weather) to approx 4 leaf of seedlings, about 4-6 cm height, after 6 weeks. I am now spreading out by re-planting a tiny individual seedling (some without soil, just the bare root on a skinny long plant) into the sunny, rich, well drained soil. My last crop was just thriving under the full Autumn sun, despite without liquid fertiliser. I just snap off the stem as often to encourage the growth.

        In constrast to a successful Coriander, I hadn’t have much luck with Spring Onion from seeds like yours. I’ve recently acquired some Red Beard Spring Onion seeds, too scare to plant them now or should I sow them in a pot in the green house?

        My other failure of last summer is after 10 plants of Eggplants, I only harvested 1 eggplant last week (due to a late seed sowing in Nov & hit hard by the Christmas hail stones). I will definitely try early this year like your plant in mid July?

        • Liz says:

          thanks Yvonne – both for visiting and leaving this really interesting comment. Perhaps my problem is a lack of sun. i did have some success with coriander last year but so far this year my plants have died. I did sow some seed in early May which has germinated so perhaps that will go well. I’m really impressed with your crop from Feb seeds. Regarding the Spring Onions I have had spring onions germinate in every month of the year but I do usually grow the green varieties and I’m not familiar with Red Beard which may be different. Perhaps a pot/punnet in the green house would be best and then transplant them when they reach a decent size. i do start a fair amount of my spring onions that way largely because I find them quite delicate when they are really little…too delicate to cope with all the blackbirds we get. Eggplant I do usually sow in August but I think I will experiment with a mid July sowing (inside) and see how they go.

  2. Phillip Stewart says:

    Geez grows like a weed in my garden. Seriously. Nothing for plants to reach a metre in height. As I have said previously, I harvest seed from the most vigorous plants and I am sure this contributes to success. I do try a measure of crop rotation as it is a heavy feeder. To plant I just grab a good handful of seeds and broadcast them where I want them to grow. I either cut leaves or just pull out the whole plant to harvest. I am lucky enough to have access to heaps of aged horse manure and the Coriander just goes crazy when planted thus.

    • Liz says:

      I’m wondering if it is a different variety of coriander or if its the damp it likes. tablish It grows best here during our coolest (and I guess wettest) times of the year so it can’t be the heat its enjoying. I am employing your best specimens seed saving technique – the seed is almost ready actually and I will resow it in late Autumn and hopefully establish some good specimens that way.

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