Get to know Vietnamese coriander

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Cilantro is a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ type of herb. And, for those who love it, like me, it can be challenging to grow. It prefers the cool weather of spring and autumn, and a steady supply of moisture. Should the weather turn hot for a few days, you neglect to water, or – Heaven forbid – you look at the plants the wrong way, they’ll quit producing foliage and jump straight to flowering. This is where Vietnamese coriander comes in handy – it shares a similar flavour to cilantro, but it’s incredibly easy to grow!

Get to know Vietnamese coriander:

Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata) is a member of the knotweed family and is also known as Vietnamese mint or Rau Ram. It’s a tender perennial and thrives from late spring to early autumn. It will eventually succumb to frost, but you can bring the plants indoors and place them on a sunny windowsill for winter harvesting. 

In form and appearance, the foliage of this Asian favourite is quite unlike cilantro. It has narrow, pointed leaves with pretty burgundy markings. It’s typically purchased as a seedling and planted in a container – preferably a big pot as it grows quickly. Give it full sun and don’t overwater! Also avoid over-fertilizing. Too much fertilizer will result in a lot of growth, but less flavour.

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vietnamese coriander

The narrow, pointed foliage of Vietnamese coriander is both ornamental and delicious.

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Using Vietnamese coriander:

The leaves of this pungent herbs are best used fresh. Young leaves are tender and have the most flavour. To encourage fresh, dense growth, pinch out the growing tip of each shoot when you plant, or periodically as you harvest.

We like to slice the foliage into small strips and add them to fresh spring rolls, green salads, chicken and potato salads, Asian inspired soups, noodles, and curries.

Have you tried growing Vietnamese coriander? 

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10 Responses to Get to know Vietnamese coriander

  1. Janet Butts says:

    I’ve been searching seed catalogues (Canadian) and can’t find it. Where do you get yours?

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Good question! Usually they are grown via cuttings and I pick up seedlings from my local nurseries. I’ve seen at least four garden centers in Halifax that carry Vietnamese coriander, including an herb supplier at our farmers market. Alternatively, Richter’s Herbs in Ontario carries plants and will mail order them. Hope that helps! 🙂 Niki

    • Eric E Bodourian says:

      Not sure where you live but I bought it at the beginning of the season (2018) at Valleyview Gardens just outside of Toronto. Also Richter’s a bit farther from the city would most likely carry it as well as their herb selection is pretty all-encompassing.
      It’s a tank, grows like a weed. Very aromatic and almost has a slightly spicy note to finish.

  2. Karen says:

    Found mine as a plant in Wyevale.

  3. Drowning Witch says:

    Watch out for aphids, they love this plant. Spray it regularly with a stream of water and tap the stems to dislodge pests.
    The plus side is that it also seems to attract aphidius wasps that lay eggs in the aphids. But don’t be complacent or your growing tips will shrivel and be smothered in aphids, honeydew and flies eating the honeydew. I find this worst indoors when overwintering.
    Take cuttings or layer it into small pots to propogate. It roots really easily.

    • James says:

      No Aphid problem with this wonder plant in Vancouver. Cut stems in water will develop massive roots in a short time and in fact will overwinter with added aeration and minimal nutrient.

  4. Carol says:

    The pandemic this year has made herbs and vegetables fly out of the Nurseries. I’ve been looking for Vietnamese coriander for weeks; finally found at Valleyview Gardens yesterday So excited to find it!

  5. Joe says:

    This is a really awesome plant!

    You can always try and root from store-bought packages of this herb. It roots readily in a cup of water after just a few days, and the stalk of the plant tends to grow what I call “pre-roots” in all directions along nodes which are closer to the ground. Therefore, this plant roots like wildfire in the right circumstances.

    However, I have noticed that some varieties have very thin roots which do not perform well when watered often, while others have thicker roots which perform extremely well when watering 2 times per day. Not sure where I picked up the 2 varieties, but one of them is markedly better (and easier) to work with!

    You can treat these exactly like Vietnamese mint:
    – Full sun, all day long.
    – Use a well-draining soil.
    – Water it twice a day.
    – Never let the soil dry out.
    – Use low dose of very mild fertilizer every other watering.
    – A periodic, mild dose/spraying of neem oil is essential so that the tender leaves aren’t constantly under attack from insects.

  6. ray nicholls says:

    I bought 2# azaleas and have just discovered a vietnamese coriander growing in each pot that I planted them in.i thought they were weeds.dont know where they came from.

  7. Krystel says:

    I planted mine using cuttings from what is left after getting the leaves for cooking. I even planted those that I refrigerated for a week (I think) and they grew!

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