Cilantro, also called coriander (especially in reference to its seeds), is an annual herb commonly used in Mexican, Chinese, Indian, and Thai cuisine. Most people find the leaves of this polarizing herb to have a citrusy, parsley-like flavor, while others think it soapy and entirely unpalatable. Either way, cilantro makes an excellent companion plant, as its aromatic leaves deter pests while its flowers attract beneficial insects.
A cool-season crop, cilantro likes moist soil rich in nitrogen and a bit of shade to protect it from the hot sun, which causes bolting. And although cilantro repels many pests, it can suffer from aphid damage. The best companion plants for cilantro will help provide for some of these needs.
Best Companion Plants for Cilantro
Cilantro has many friends among vegetables, herbs, and flowers, but here are some of its favorites. In general, grow cilantro near plants that share or at least tolerate its preferred growing conditions, like moist, nitrogen-rich soil. Those that also provide cooling shade or natural pest control make especially good companions.
Get some cilantro seeds here, if you want to give this aromatic herb a try.
Also, did you know that the white, attractive flowers of cilantro are edible?
1. Anise (Pimpinella Anisum)
Anise and cilantro share similar growing requirements, making them excellent companions in the garden. They may even improve each other’s germination. Plus, anise, especially star anise, deters tiny munchers like aphids that might devour cilantro.
Beans and other legumes help provide cilantro with much-needed nitrogen for healthy growth. Beans also create shade to keep cilantro cool. While pole beans, being taller, do this best, bush varieties also help cool the soil and improve moisture retention.
Check out my guide on growing beans.
3. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil is another herb that prefers similar growing conditions. It repels insect pests, as well, making chervil and cilantro a dynamic pest-deterring duo in the herb or vegetable garden.
4. Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis)
Although not often found in vegetable or herb gardens, coreopsis is a tall flower with feathery foliage that will provide cooling dappled shade for cilantro planted nearby. The bright blossoms also attract beneficial insects that can help keep pests at bay.
5. Lupine (Lupinus)
Lupines might just be the best friends of cilantro. As a profusely flowering legume, they fix nitrogen in the soil for cilantro to absorb and also attract pollinators and predatory insects to the garden. Plus, being tall, they also provide shade. Plant lupines in a permanent spot, such as a vegetable garden border or an herb garden, to enjoy them year after year.
Like beans and lupine, peas are nitrogen fixers and provide shade for smaller plants like cilantro. However, these legumes are among the first crops planted in early spring, which means their growing season overlaps more with that of cool-loving cilantro.
Check out my peas growing guide.
7. Sunflowers (Helianthus)
Tall, cheery, easy-to-grow sunflowers create shade for cilantro when grown together or with other tall flowers. Dwarf varieties will keep nearby cilantro cool without blocking the sun from large sections of the garden. Sunflowers also attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Check out these other sunflower friends!
8. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
A mounding groundcover, sweet alyssum shades the soil, improving moisture retention. The masses of fragrant flowers attract beneficial predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings that feed on aphids and other garden pests.
9. Zinnias (Zinnia)
Vibrant zinnias add wonderful, bright color to vegetable, herb, and flower gardens, and they are a favorite among pollinators. In addition, these tall flowering annuals provide excellent shade for cool-season herbs like cilantro, extending their growing season.
Worst Companion Plants for Cilantro
A handful of plants should not be grown too close to cilantro, as they do not get along very well. Avoid planting these few nearby to keep your cilantro plants lush and healthy.
1. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel, unfortunately, does not play well with others. It secretes a natural chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants, such as cilantro.
2. Lavender (Lavandula)
A Mediterranean herb, lavender needs full sun and well-draining, sandy soil. Since cilantro prefers moist, nutrient-dense soil and a bit of shade for coolness, these two opposites do not grow well side by side.
3. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
Rosemary also thrives in free-draining soil and warm, sunny conditions, which means if it is planted near cilantro, one of the two will be very unhappy.
4. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Another herb from the Mediterranean region, thyme does not make a good companion plant for cilantro either. Plant it instead as a groundcover in a sunny perennial herb garden or flower bed.
The best cilantro companion plants tolerate or even prefer moist soil with plenty of nitrogen and some shade, or they might provide that cool shade themselves. Some also produce flowers that provide beauty to the garden as well as attract beneficial pollinators and predatory insects. Choose plants like these to grow alongside cilantro, and you will have lush plants from which to harvest leaves and seeds to flavor your garden-fresh meals.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.