Bring the exotic Caribbean taste to your cuisine by Growing Culantro! This fantastic herb thrives easily in a home garden and you can maintain it easily!
Culantro or the Mexican coriander is a fragrant herb with a similar flavor as cilantro but on the stronger side. The leaves have a long serrated look like lettuce. Fresh or dried culantro has many culinary and medicinal uses as it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. By growing culantro, you can enjoy its aromatic leaves for uninterrupted supply all year round!
USDA Zones: 7-11
Common Names: Sawroot coriander, Serrated coriander, Recao, Chardon benee, Shado beni, Fitweed, Coulante, and Bhandhania.
Check out our article on growing cilantro here
What is Culantro?
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a green herb with long serrated leaves. It belongs to the Apiaceae family that includes celery, parsnip, and parsley. It grows like lettuce with leaves around the central rosette. The plant can grow up to 1 foot tall at maturity with 2-3 inches wide leaves.
The leaves have both culinary and medicinal uses. It is used in cooking for strong citrus flavor and pungent aroma that mixes nicely under heat. It is widely used in the Caribbean, Central American, and Vietnamese dishes.
What Does Culantro Taste Like?
Culantro has a pungent smell and slightly bitter flavor like cilantro, but stronger. It has a sweet, musty, and intense aroma.
Being native to warm regions like Mexico, this herb does really well in hot climates. For warm climates, you can grow at any time of the year. For cold regions, grow it in Spring or Summer.
Culantro can be grown from seeds and cuttings. The latter is an easier option. Sow the seeds in the moist, sterilized seed starting mix. The seeds will germinate in 14-28 days—transplant them when the risk of frost is passed.
A deep and wide pot for growing culantro would be an apt choice. Choose one that is 8-12 inches wide and deep.
Requirements for Growing Culantro
Culantro prefers full sun. However, growing them in partial shade results in much longer leaves with a higher pungent aroma. The plant also stays more productive in part sun.
The plant does best in moist, well-draining, and sandy loam soil, rich in organic matter. For best results, use a blend of mixed coir and perlite. Mixing them in the right ratio is key here. Use 3 parts coir to 1 part perlite. Alternatively, you can also go for high-quality soilless mix.
Check the moisture of the soil regularly as the plant loves to stay in moist, but not waterlogged soil. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil seems slightly dry.
Go for a slow-release 14-14-14 blend, once in 3-4 months. Alternatively, you can also side-dress the plant with aged manure or compost. Fish emulsion is also a good option. The use of actively-aerated microbial tea is also going to aid in the plant’s overall growth.
Pests and Diseases
Mostly, culantro is pest and disease-free. Just be careful about root-knot nematodes. Also, look out for bacterial black rot, that can cause spots in leaves. A neem oil solution will take care of these problems.
Harvesting and Storage
Generally, it is used fresh. You can cut individual leaves from the plant as required. Store fresh culantro by wrapping it in paper towels, plastic bags or air-tight containers and refrigerate. If stored properly, culantro can be used for about a week. Rinse and pat dry leaves before cooking.
Culantro is popular in Caribbean cuisines. This aromatic herb is a common ingredient in a vegetable mix known as sofrito. It is used in the Caribbean and South American recipes for stews and meats. Culantro is also used in many Asian recipes.
Some famous Cuisines that use Culantro are Vietnamese Pho Bo Beef Noodle Soup, Caribbean Sofrito with Culantro, Cuban Braised Chicken Stew (Pollo Guisado)