Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) both belong to the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family, along with several other crops such as carrot, celery, fennel, dill, and parsnip. Curly leaf parsley is most often used as a garnish, whereas flat leaf parsley is more often used as an ingredient. The fresh leaves of cilantro are commonly used in Mexican, South Asian, Indian and other cuisines; the dried seeds of the same plant are known as coriander.
Types and Varieties
|Cilantro and Parsley Varieties
|Parsley - Curly Leaf
|Parsley - Flat Leaf
|Advanced Turbo II (BB)
|Dark Green Italian Plain
|Giant of Italy
|B = Bolting resistant, BB = bacterial blight resistant, DM = downy mildew resistant
Maintain soil pH near 6.5, and maintain P and K in the high/optimum range. These crops do best in rich, well-drained soils.
Parsley and cilantro can be transplanted or direct seeded. Transplants are recommended for parsley, which can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. For transplant production, seed into 72-cell trays. Transplant at 12-18” between and within rows. Cilantro germinates more rapidly, so direct seeding is recommended. Be mindful of reduced germination rates when using seed older than one year; doing a germination test ahead of planting is recommended so that adjustments to seeding rates can be made if necessary. If direct seeding, do so after the last frost. Direct seed 1/3’” deep at 20-40 lb/A (1-2 oz/100-row ft) into rows 12-18” apart. Cilantro grows well even when thickly sown and does not need to be thinned.
Cilantro seeds actually contain more than one seed each, similar to beets. Some varieties of cilantro are available as “split” or monogerm seed to improve planting precision. Split seeds tend to shed the seed coats more quickly as well, which can be helpful for micro cilantro production.
Culture and Harvest
Rotate away from Apiaceae crops to avoid soil-borne diseases. Parsley can be cut all at once or selectively. Selective cuttings of parsley can prolong harvests, and a well-maintained planting can be cut from three to five times in a season. Parsley can be overwintered in high tunnels. Cut leaves approximately 1" above the soil line to avoid damaging the growing point. Harvesting should begin in early July with a mid- to late April seeding date. Cilantro should be harvested before it begins to bolt, and only one harvest is possible. Sequential seedings can be made to ensure steady supply.
Store cut parsley and cilantro at 32˚F with very high (95-100%) relative humidity, and in coolers separate from ethylene-producing crops. Stored properly, both crops can keep for 2+ weeks.