Cilantro’s Garden Allies: Companion Planting for a Robust Herb

I’ve had a passion for gardening for as long as I can remember. There’s something special about nurturing plants from tiny seeds into abundant, vibrant gardens overflowing with life. And there’s no better place to garden than here in Wisconsin, with our rich, diverse landscapes and seasons that genuinely let you become one with nature.

Over the years, I’ve learned the art and science of sustainable, earth-friendly gardening. One technique I’d love to share with you is companion planting with cilantro. Not only is cilantro a tasty, versatile herb for cooking, but it also has remarkable abilities to help its fellow plants thrive.

Beneficial Cilantro Companions

Understanding Companion Planting

If you’re unfamiliar with companion planting, it refers to growing certain plants together to benefit each other. It takes advantage of the natural interactions and relationships between plants and uses them to:

  • Repel garden pests
  • Attract beneficial insects
  • Enhance flavor
  • Provide shade and support
  • Improve nutrients in the soil
  • And much more!

It’s a holistic, chemical-free way to create a thriving garden ecosystem. When done right, companion planting can help plants:

  • Grow faster
  • Produce higher yields
  • Have better health and resistance

It also helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers or harsh pesticides. Over years of trial and error, I’ve learned firsthand how well it works, transforming my little slice of Wisconsin wilderness.

Cilantro Crop Partners

Cilantro is an excellent companion plant for several reasons. Let’s take a closer look at what makes cilantro unique.

Cilantro: A Herb with Benefits

Cilantro (coriander) is an annual herb popular worldwide, especially in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Wisconsin’s growing season runs from early spring to late fall when the temperatures are colder.

  • Grows 1-2 feet tall
  • Delicate, fern-like leaves
  • Can reseed itself readily
  • It has a pungent, citrusy scent

And here’s why cilantro makes for such a great companion plant:

Pest Control

Cilantro releases natural oils that repel garden pests like spider mites, aphids, and beetles. Interplanting it with other crops creates a barrier that drives away problems before they can attack and damage plants.

Cilantro Garden Care

Promotes Growth

The oils released by cilantro also stimulate growth and make plants more resistant to stress and disease. Cilantro’s expansive root system helps break up compacted soil and improves drainage for neighboring plants.

Attracts Pollinators

Cilantro blooms attract beneficial pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. These pollinators transfer pollen from plant to plant, increasing fruit production and harvest yields.

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Enriches Soil

As cilantro matures and decomposes, it enriches the soil with nutrients. Its leaves also make excellent nutrient-rich mulch or green manure to mix into garden beds.

Easy To Grow

Cilantro thrives in a wide range of climates across Wisconsin. It’s inexpensive, proliferates, self-seeds freely, and requires little maintenance from seed to harvest.

Cilantro Planting Techniques

Now that you know why cilantro makes an ideal companion plant, let’s explore some of the top vegetable, herb, and flower varieties that benefit from cilantro’s companionship.

Best Companions for Cilantro

Many plants thrive besides cilantro. Here are some all-star combinations that every Wisconsin gardener should try.

Vegetables that Love Cilantro

Tomatoes – Cilantro repels pests like aphids and spider mites that attack tomato plants. And there’s nothing better than fresh salsa from tomatoes and cilantro grown side-by-side!

Peppers – Pepper plants grown near cilantro produce heavier yields. Cilantro helps repel aphids, mites, and beetles that can damage peppers. Plus, you can quickly grab cilantro and peppers together for recipes.

Beans – Thanks to increased microbial activity in the soil, bean plants experience less fungus and wilt when cilantro is nearby. As a legume, beans help fix nitrogen in the ground, benefiting cilantro growth. It’s a win-win relationship.

Carrots – Carrots and cilantro are great friends in the garden bed. Cilantro repels carrot flies, which can be hugely destructive for carrot crops.

Companion Herbs Cilantro

Herbs that Synergize with Cilantro

Mint – Mint and cilantro make fast friends, and mint benefits from cilantro’s pest control abilities. Be sure to plant mint in a container, or its vigorous growth will take over the whole garden!

Basil – Cilantro improves both the quantity and flavor of basil. And these two signature summer herbs lend a one-two punch of flavor to dishes. Try them together in a zesty Italian salsa verde.

Flowers that Benefit from Cilantro

Marigolds – No Wisconsin garden is complete without cheery marigolds. Cilantro helps deter aphids, mites, and beetles that feed on marigold roots and leaves, and marigolds also repel nematodes that can plague cilantro’s roots.

Nasturtiums – Nasturtiums and cilantro make a delightful combo, and they’re also effective against pests like whiteflies and squash bugs that attack both plants. You can eat nasturtium’s peppery leaves and flowers in salads.

Edible Landscaping Cilantro

This is just a tiny sample of all the vegetables, herbs, and flowers that make the perfect companions for cilantro. As you experiment in your garden, consider what plants thrive near your cilantro. Nature is always willing to share her secrets with attentive students.

Companions to Avoid

While many plants benefit from cilantro friendship, there are a select few that don’t get along:

Fennel – Fennel inhibits cilantro growth. Both produce similar oils that disrupt each other’s development.

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Beans, Peas, & Tomatoes – While some types of beans thrive near cilantro, bush beans, peas, and tomatoes don’t tolerate the chemicals released by cilantro. Keep them in separate beds.

Dill – Dill and cilantro hinder each other, so choose to grow one but not both. Any other foliage, like lettuce, parsley, or celery, will also compete with cilantro for space and nutrients.

Garden Design with Cilantro

Companion Plant Pairing Tips

Growing productive gardens is always a learning process tailored to each unique environment. Here are my top tips for successfully pairing cilantro with other plants in your slice of the Wisconsin landscape:

Give It Space

Cilantro can grow quite large, up to 18 inches tall and wide. To ensure its growth is not inhibited, make sure to leave at least 8 inches between cilantro and neighboring plants.

Grow In Batches

Grow cilantro in small batches scattered throughout your garden beds. This allows its pest control and growth benefits to spread more evenly among your other plants.

Use As A Border

Use cilantro as a border or buffer planting around the outer edges of your beds. Cilantro will create a protective barrier that repels external pests.

Kitchen Garden Cilantro

Go Vertical

Vining plants like tomatoes and cucumbers should be trellised vertically. This keeps them off the ground, allowing cilantro planted below to spread freely.

Plant Warm Season Crops Later

Remember, cilantro prefers cooler temperatures. Wait until after your last spring frost, once soil temperatures warm, to plant summer vegetables and herbs alongside cilantro. This gives both a chance to thrive during their peak growing seasons.

Cut Often

Clip cilantro frequently before it flowers. Trimming promotes continued leaf and root growth for the longest-lasting pest control and soil benefits. Let a few plants flower later in the season for the pollinator buffet!

Follow these companion planting pairing guidelines, and your cilantro will keep your other vegetable garden plants healthy and flourishing from spring until the first frost of fall.

Attracting Beneficial Insects with Cilantro

While keeping detrimental pests at bay, cilantro also welcomes beneficial powerhouses into your garden by supplying pollen and nectar bounties:

Bees – Bees navigate by scent and color, which attracts them to cilantro’s sweet floral smell and white blooms. As they gather pollen, they pollinate the entire garden.

Organic Herb Pairing

Butterflies – Butterflies flock to cilantro’s tiny nectar-filled flowers, helping carry pollen from plant to plant. Specific varieties, like the Painted Lady, use cilantro as a host plant for laying eggs and feeding caterpillars.

Ladybugs and lacewings are mighty predators that feast on harmful insects like aphids that attack garden plants. Planting cilantro provides them with food and a nesting habitat.

As you nurture your garden, observe these tiny heroes protecting plants and spreading life. Their resilient examples, not unlike cilantro, offer lessons to gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

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Caring for Your Cilantro & Its Companions

To keep your cilantro and companion plants healthy and robust:

Water Regularly – Cilantro has a shallow root system and requires moist soil. Water every few days, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Use a spray attachment to avoid damaging delicate cilantro leaves.

Fertilize Lightly – Fertilize cilantro and companions monthly with a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer or compost tea. Over-fertilization creates excess foliage at the expense of flavor.

Prune Often – Clip cilantro frequently to inhibit flowering, which reduces leaf production. Later in the season, allow select plants to flower for pollinators.

Weed Diligently – Watch for competition weeds like purslane and chickweed, which thrive in rich soils and can inhibit nutrient availability.

Mulch heavily. Spread 2-3 inches of shredded leaves, grass clippings, or straw around plants to conserve moisture, prevent weeds, and feed the soil as it decomposes.

Pesticide Free Cilantro

Troubleshooting Companion Planting Issues

Even the most meticulously tended gardens encounter obstacles. Here is how to address the most common companion planting problems:

Overcrowding: Thin young cilantro seedlings to 8 inches apart. Crowding stunts growth, reducing cilantro’s pest control and soil benefits.

Unexpected Wilts or Death: Check roots for rot and stems for burrowing pests. Discard infected plants immediately, and do not compost, as diseases can overwinter this way.

Leaf Spotting – Treat fungus or bacteria-caused leaf spotting with neem oil or copper spray. Remove damaged foliage promptly to prevent the spread of spores.

An Influx of Pests – An influx of pests likely indicates less-than-ideal growing conditions. Ensure plants have proper space, soil, sun, and nutrients. Also, plant nectar-rich flowers to attract more beneficial insects.

While paying attention to these potential pitfalls, remember that gardens, like any ecosystem, self-regulate to find balance given the proper care and conditions.

Plant Cilantro Today!

As you’ve learned, cilantro’s tremendous benefits extend beyond its flavor. Its pest control and soil enrichment superpowers keep crops healthy and productive from spring until fall frost. Therefore, it is recommended that you incorporate cilantro into your vegetable garden, containers, or herb bed.

I hope you feel inspired to add cilantro to your garden beds and take advantage of its natural companion abilities this growing season. Gardening is always an adventure, full of lessons for those willing to get their hands dirty.