Culantro / Recao
Getting it to grow .......
Who said it was easy ?
Customers speakout !
Tips on growing Culantro
I receive many e-mails requesting information on How to Grow Culantro. I have been handling these e-mails on a one on one basis and will continue to do so if needed. Here are the directions for easily growing your Culantro. First bear in mind that Culantro likes the shade and will not survive Full Sun. Also it loves moisture NOT wetness! With these two things in mind here are the tips on how to grow Culantro.
July 29, 2005
thanks for the Culantro seeds. After reading a lot of
material on them, I was concerned about germination
problems. Solution found included a clear plastic box
that the local bakery used for two dozen cookies. Punched
a few holes in the lid and bottom and then filled the
bottom half with potting mix. After three weeks in the
shade, volia. Believe there was better than 90%
germination. Am now planning to try many more of Daisy
Martinez's (Daisy Cooks) recipes.
Again many thanks from San Jose, CA
July 22, 2002
Jose! You'll be happy to know the Cuban culantro sprouted for me! I sowed it July 1 with no pretreatment (no GA-3)--wanted to see what would happen just "straight". Sowed it in a 3"x3" pot filled with the usual seed starter mix (seed start in a bag plus plenty of extra vermiculite and perlite--that stuff's too mushy without the additives) and a 1/8"-3/16" layer of BABY chick grit. You might mention that the chicken grit is quite fine, the kind used for baby chicks, not for hens. Can use the latter, but the chunks are larger, and tiny seeds could get lost/washed out under these "boulders" (from their perspective!). The fine grit works best for me.
Sowed the culantro right on top, watered it in. Put it in the starter (flat with clear plastic dome), stuck it under the lights in the basement. Temps down there are around 70 or so. Has been too brutally hot and dry here for me to even venture doing any such thing outside; they'd just cook.
Took 2.5 weeks to sprout--I was beginning to wonder if I'd get sprouts or just rotted seed. The seed stained the grit slightly with a brownish wash--some species do and some don't, and sometimes this is the beginning of the end! Anyway, after two weeks I thought I saw roots heading downwards from a couple of seeds, but because they're white, so is the grit, everything's so small, and I have middle-aged eyesight, I waited to be sure. Now I have quite a few sprouted, although they're still TINY. The seed leaves on the largest of them are maybe 1/8". Germination seems really good, with a fairly full pot. I just did 1 packet--didn't want to overload the pot and wanted more available in case I needed to fool around some more. So mission successful!
Here are her instructions:
Depending on what's available, I just buy bags of anything labeled Seed Starter Mix in K-mart-type stores. It's heavy on the milled peat. Hoffman's brand is available around here, and I often use it--but NOT their stuff with nutrients added. Am a bit nervous about that one--I suppose it would be fine for tomatoes and peppers, but I'm wary of it for some of the lean-mean-loving perennials I like to grow from seed. My theory: when I want to fertilize, I can always use fish emulsion. I did get a huge (50#) bag of some non-Hoffman's brand at a local garden center this spring, and that was what I used this time. But they're all the same. I add a LOT of perlite, figuring I'm better off watering more frequently than waterlogging seeds or having my seedlings rot at the soil line. Probably 1/4 or so of the mix is perlite. The vermiculite may or may not get added, depending on if I have any around, and I usually don't dump in anywhere nearly as much of it as perlite. Anyway, I mix the stuff up in a plastic bucket with a lid (kitty litter containers, well-washed 5# laundry soap containers), add some water, enough to moisten but not enough to create "mud", and make a mess mixing it. Then I let it sit for 12-24 hours so the moisture can penetrate evenly.I really think the surface grit is the sprouting answer, though, as it allows the seed to have great drainage. Since culantro's an eryngium and all the hardy versions thereof are sensitive to rot, wouldn't surprise me that culantro is also a bit sensitive. The addition of the perlite to the milled peat is important for the subsequent growth, as it provides such nice drainage. Please feel free to share this info with the world--no problem!!
by ...Tecla Loup, , July 2002
A quick note on the recao seeds that you requested. Planted seeds on 5/27, a cool sunny day, (mid seventies here in Queens,N.Y).Seedlings started to appear on Thursday 6/21.Used MiracleGro as per your instructions .The weather here in Queens has ranged from the low seventies to the mid eighties for most of June.Provided shade and a watering schedule as you suggested.So far so good.
(Another update from Ernie)
Thursday, August 02, 2001 9:54 PM
From the two packets of seeds about 100+ plants have come up.They measure a little bit more than 3.5 inches in lenght.We have not harvested any as of this time,waiting for them to get a bit more mature. One quick question,when to the recao plants go to seed?
Como estas! I purchased some culantro seeds about a year
ago. They did not
germinate, I relayed the process to you, you sent me some more seeds. I
waited until April, in Central Kentucky, to plant them in a deep 12" pot
with generic potting soil. I sprinkled the seeds on top and "dusted" them
with soil. I kept them very moist for several months with out any luck. At
this point I gave up. I left the pot outside on a table with full sun
without watering it. Around August it had been in the 90's for about a
week, it then rained for several days and returned to the 90's. Several
weeks later I saw germinating sprouts, when I squished one between my
fingers, I smelled the peppery, pungent aroma I had come to love while in
Panama. I brought the pot inside and kept it under a "grow lamp" with 24
hour light. It grew very well for months. I then bought a timer and now I
give it 18 hours of light a day. I trim the "gone to seed" growth and a few
leaves every 2-3 weeks. I coarse chop it and freeze it covered in water.
Freezing it in leaf form it does not survive, it will freezer burn and loose
all its flavor. I have the same 10 plants in the pot and they survived all
winter and plan to put them outside as soon as the weather stays above 75
degrees. The lamp keeps the surface of the soil at about that temperature.
I will be ordering more seeds soon and will send along a snapshot of my
culantro pot. Thank you for your product, support and web page.
Dealing with Slugs and Snails........
If anyone has slug or snail problems they need to put out slug & snail bait around the planted area. The slugs and snails love these plants and they also love to eat Cilantro especially when they are just sprouts. They will eat the leaves of the mature plants leaving holes in them. I've raised culantro since 1984 and have them where they catch the morning sun and is very moist. These are the areas that the slugs and snails thrive in so you need to be aware of this. My plants were getting very thin and the new plants didn't seem to be growing and then I remembered about the slugs in this place and when I had put the bait out I was very surprised on how many slugs that were in my herbs. Now my new plants are growing again and I should have a nice area again. The slug bait I used is Bug Geta or I bought the slug bait from Wal Mart it either comes in pellets or powder. I like the pellets better since it lasts a lot longer.
Sus Murakoa, Hawaii
My Culantro planter ..........( Inverted garbage can tops with miracle gro potting mix and plenty of water and shade with a temperature around 80 deg. F )
Back to Culantro / Recao Page