Cilantro is a common herb in Mexican and Asian cooking, but it’s also grown as a vegetable. This leafy green herb has a strong flavor, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve had your cilantro plants for years and they’re still producing plenty of leaves and flowers (and not looking like dried-out twigs), then your cilantro is doing just fine!
If you’re worried about how much sun your cilantro needs or if you can grow it in shade or full sun, read on to find out.
How Much Sun Does Cilantro Need?
Cilantro is a cool season crop, which means it will grow best in spring and fall. If your cilantro is growing in shade, it will be more susceptible to diseases and insect pests. Cilantro prefers full sun; however, if you live in an area with hot summers, you may want to plant cilantro where it receives partial shade from the midday sun. The key is to provide your plants with 4–6 hours of direct sunlight per day (meaning no shade from trees or buildings).
Does Cilantro Prefer Full Sun?
Cilantro prefers full sun and well-drained soil. If you live in an area with hot summers and cold winters, then cilantro should be grown as an annual in the spring or fall when maximum temperatures are below 75 degrees F and above 55 degrees F.
Cilantro can also be grown as a perennial in warmer climates where there are no frosts during the winter months.
Can Cilantro Grow in Shade?
Cilantro can grow in shade, but not as well as it would in full sun. If you have a spot that receives only partial sunlight, you should grow cilantro there instead of throwing away your money on seedlings that won’t survive if they don’t get enough light.
There are several steps to growing cilantro in the shade successfully:
Choose the right variety – There are two different types of cilantro plants: one with pointy leaves and another with round leaves. The round-leaf type grows better under low light conditions than the pointy-leaf variety does. If possible, choose this type when shopping at your local nursery or garden center.
Plant correctly – You’ll want to plant your cilantro early in the spring before the soil warms up too much or becomes too dry for them to thrive. Plant them about 12 inches apart from each other so they have room to grow.
Where Does Cilantro Grow Best?
Cilantro grows well in full sun, or part shade. It does not do well in the heat of summer, so it is best to plant it early in spring and late in fall. Cilantro is not a heavy feeder, but it does need soil that drains well, as it cannot tolerate standing water.
Cilantro grows best in rich loamy soil but will grow well in sandy soils too if you add compost or other organic matter to enrich the soil prior to planting. Cilantro also loves moisture and should be watered regularly when young and/or planted directly in the ground.
Cilantro can be grown from seed or from transplants purchased at your local nursery. Transplanting cilantro can be tricky because they do not like being disturbed once they have been growing for some time (about 4 weeks).
If you are transplanting cilantro that has already started to grow, it may take longer than 4 weeks before they start growing again after transplanting them into their new pots or garden beds and they need more sunlight while they are establishing themselves again after being transplanted.
Can Cilantro Get Too Much Sun?
Sunlight is a must for the plant’s growth, but too much of it can cause the plant to grow tall and spindly. The leaves will be small and pale green instead of their usual vibrant, healthy green. The plant may not produce flowers or seeds when exposed to too much sunlight.
If you have this problem, try growing cilantro in the partial shade instead of full sun. Partial shade will still provide your cilantro with enough light to grow, but it won’t be as intense as full sun exposure would be.
Signs Your Cilantro Isn’t Getting Enough Sunlight
Cilantro is a hardy herb that can withstand partial shade, but it will grow more quickly and produce more leaves if it gets plenty of sun.
If you aren’t sure whether your cilantro is getting enough sunlight, look for the following signs:
- Leaves are small and narrow
- Leaves are pale in color
- Leaves are weak-looking and floppy
With all of this information, you should be able to decide if your cilantro needs more sun. The best rule of thumb here is that plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day for optimal growth.