How to Grow Cilantro in Water (6 Steps)

One of the most widely used and grown plants in the world, cilantro, also known as coriander, is exceptionally popular both for its health and nutritional benefits.

For centuries, it’s been a part of traditional medicine, as well as a staple in cuisines around the globe.

So, chances are you probably have some in your kitchen at all times.

However, if you’re buying cilantro from the store, you’ve probably noticed that it wilts rather quickly and loses some potency.

On the other hand, if you tried to plant it in your garden, you’ve likely found out that growing cilantro in the soil can be pretty tricky.

Luckily, there’s a much simpler way to ensure that you always have fresh cilantro around the house.

Even those with little or no gardening experience can easily grow this plant in water.

Below is a step-by-step explanation of how to grow cilantro in water.

How to Grow Cilantro in Water

Cilantro growing in water.

Growing cilantro in water is easy and quite cost-effective. Besides the seeds, all you need is a colander, a large bowl or a small bucket, and some tissue paper.

Basically, all the things you’ll need, you probably already have in your household. So, if you love cilantro, there’s no reason not to try to grow it yourself.

In addition to constantly having fresh cilantro to use, you also likely have some fun while nurturing it and earn the satisfaction of knowing you grew your favorite herb yourself.

By following these simple steps, you’ll quickly get a grasp on how to grow cilantro in water and have fresh herbs ready for use in around a month.

Step 1. Preparing the Seeds

The first step to do is to acquire some seeds. You will most likely be able to purchase seeds in your neighborhood grocery store or the garden center.

One thing to remember to avoid any confusion is that usually the dried seeds are referred to as coriander, while the plant’s leaves and stem are what we commonly know as cilantro.

Coriander seeds are encased in a hard brown layer, known as a husk. Each husk typically contains two seeds.

To help your plant grow faster, you should break the husks and release the seeds. While this is not necessary it will speed up the entire process.

The easiest way to do this is by using a rolling pin, wooden spatula, or anything of a similar nature to break up the husks.

Make sure to be gentle, and not crush husks and seeds entirely, turning them into powder.

Step 2. Placing the Seeds in the Water

Cilantro seeds.

What you will need

Before moving on with this step, make sure you’ve prepared everything you need. This includes a colander, preferably made of plastic.

You can freely use the old one that you don’t plan to use in the kitchen anymore.

The next thing you’ll need is a bowl or a bucket, also made of plastic. As for the size, it should be wide enough to comfortably fit the colander.

Also, make sure that it’s opaque, as a transparent bowl will let the sunlight in and promote algae growth.

In addition, make sure to prepare a few paper tissues and a spray bottle filled with water. Finally, the last item on the list are the previously prepared coriander seeds.

Setting up the Bowl and the Colander and Adding Water

Take the colander and set it up over the bowl, so it rests on the bowl’s edges with the bottom part inside the bowl.

Then, fill the bow with water until it just touches the colander’s bottom.

This is important, as the seeds will grow at the bottom of the colander, so you don’t want it flooded with water.

The water should only be about half an inch deep in the colander.

Note that it’s best to use distilled water to avoid salt crusts forming from the minerals in the tap water.

Adding Seeds

Next up, pick up the seeds and sprinkle them around the bottom of the colander.

Hopefully, you’ve picked the colander with smaller holes than the seeds to prevent them from falling through.

If not, place a moist sheet of tissue paper at the bottom of the colander to ensure the seeds stay in.

When you’ve sprinkled the seeds on the colander bottom, take another sheet of tissue paper and cover them.

Next, spray the whole setup with water to ensure the paper is damp and has enough weight to keep the seeds in place.

Of course, be careful not to overdo it and flood the colander.

Keep the spray bottle handy, as you will need to do this at least once a day, preferably twice. This will make sure the seeds don’t dry out and stay fertile, so the cilantro can grow.

Step 3. Finding a Spot for Cilantro to Grow

Finding a perfect place where your cilantro will grow and thrive can be a bit tricky, as it needs sunlight, but not too much.

Placing it in a spot with a lot of direct sunlight can burn the leaves or make the cilantro bolt too early.

This means that leafy greens begin to produce flowering stalks before the proper time which will cause leaves to become bitter and not of much use in meal preparation.

On the other hand, the sun will help the cilantro develop more quickly and you don’t want to wait forever until your plant is fully grown and ready for use.

So, striking the right balance is the key.

Bright, but Shady

The best thing to do is to place the bowl with cilantro into a relatively bright area but under a shade.

This will provide enough sunlight for the plant without scorching its leaves. In general, Cilantro needs around six hours of full sun a day.

If you live in an area with a colder climate, you can leave it in the sun even longer. If you plan to keep your cilantro inside, the best spot to place it is on the window sill.

Another thing to keep in mind is keeping your growing cilantro protected. This means that it should be out of reach of animals who could potentially feast on it.

Step 4. Taking Care of Growing Cilantro

Caring for your cilantro as it grows won’t require much work and is rather simple, but there are a couple of things you’ll need to pay attention to.

Most importantly, you should regularly change the water in the bowl. This should be done every two or three days, so the cilantro is always growing out of fresh water.

Also, make sure to monitor the water and react to any changes. If it changes color, the most likely reason is algae or bacterial development.

The exact reason is rather tricky to pinpoint, so to be sure, clean the bowl thoroughly every time you change the water.

In addition, make sure to always use distilled water to top off the bowl. Also, track the rots as they sprout, they should only be half-submerged in water.

While cilantro can grow from water, it still needs oxygen from the air to properly develop.

So, always keep an eye on water levels.

Step 5. Fertilizing the Growing Cilantro

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Note that this step is optional. You can enrich the water cilantro is growing in with liquid fertilizer to increase the level of nutrients the plant will get.

However, the cilantro will likely grow just fine without it. However, the added nutrients will speed up its growth and boost its development.

Also, be aware that too much fertilizer can be damaging to your cilantro and even kill it. To be on the side of caution, use only half of the recommended dose, and dilute it heavily.

Step 6. Harvesting Cilantro

Around the month after the first step, you should finally be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This is typically the time to start harvesting cilantro, although you can do it sooner if it has reached a height of 5-6 inches.

There are a couple of methods for harvesting cilantro. You can cut around one-third of the entire external part of the crop.

Doing this will provide you with a couple of chances to harvest the same plant. When cutting, go from the outside to the center of the plant.

You can also simply pluck as much cilantro as you need, by just plucking the parts of the leaves, whenever you need to use it as a spice.

More leaves will continue to develop, providing multiple chances for an abundant harvest.

Finally, you can harvest the entire cilantro. Gather all the leaves together, tie them with a rubber band, and cut around an inch from the base.


Hardly anything can compare to the satisfaction you’ll feel when making a meal using the ingredient you grew yourself.

While most plants and vegetables will be hard to grow on your own without a proper grade, some are perfectly suited for the DIY approach, even if you have just a tiny space at your disposal.

Cilantro certainly belongs to this group, as you don’t even have to grow it from the soil.

Growing cilantro in water is a very easy and convenient way to ensure a never-ending reserve of this spicy herb in your household.

It doesn’t require much of your time or effort and the results will be more than satisfying.

Just follow the few simple steps described above and in around a month you’ll have your own supply of cilantro.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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