Friday 1 May 2015

Vietnamese Coriander and my Chilean Guavas

 Added a new plant to my collection this week - Vietnamese Coriander. 
On Wednesday I went to a garden show with mum organised by The Red Cross. It was a lovely little show set in the grounds of an old manor house with a walled Victorian garden to walk around as well (more on that another time). The stalls were made up of lots of local specialist nurseries so it was nice that there were no "big brands" there and the stall owners really knew their stuff.
I got talking to the owners of The Cottage Herbery about my dislike for growing coriander. Although I love the taste, it bolts so easily it's hardly worth growing, when ever I want it its run to seed. I was enquiring if they had a herb called Papalo or knew where I could get seeds in the UK from, this is meant to be a great alternative with a similar taste but the plant grows much bigger before if flowers (between three and five feet I think) so you get a much longer harvest, used a lot in Mexican cooking. 
She didn't have this but wrote down my details and of the herb to look for it and said that a good alternative they sell is Vietnamese coriander which gets bigger than normal coriander before going to flower. It's unusual for me to buy a herb instead of seeds but I did as I quite fancied trying this, apparently its easy to take cutting from so I'll be doing that later to propagate my own plants from it and hopefully I'll get some seed as well to plant if it's any good.
Last year when I got them in May
 I also had a comment on a post I'd written last may about when I bought my Chilean guavas, asking what they were like, how they grew and how they did over winter. 
What they look like now
We had quite a mild winter so it's not been the hardest test for them but they've all pulled through. I simply stored them in an unheated greenhouse and made sure I watered them as they needed it. As you can see the plants have grown like crazy in a year and measure about two foot high with a really good spread.
 I took a couple of cutting last summer and they both rooted easily and have started to grow well. I'm planing to take lots more cuttings this year and I might experiment with growing them in the ground and not bringing them in. They seem to grow so fast that I think they'd make great hedging in a sheltered place (which we aren't in) and because of the fast growth it's not the end of the world if I loose a few plants, I'll make sure that I over winter a few in the greenhouse still. Maybe a small border in front of my new porch when I finish building it!  
Cuttings I took last summer doing well.
Who else is growing Chilean Guavas? Anyone grown one from seed?
Also how does everyone else stand on coriander? Any other suggestions for alternatives?


  1. Love vietnamese coriander, but I find the taste (at least the one I grow here) to be quite different from cilantro - more like a minty basil, and it seems to spread (in a good way) like mint plants do!

    1. I'm looking forward to trying it but I'll let it grow on a bit first.

  2. I'm not a great fan of Coriander, but have this year sprinkled a pack of seeds in the herb garden for my son (who loves it). I wonder if it will grow?

    1. You've probably got perfect conditions for growing it over there so you should have no trouble.

  3. I'm not a great fan of Coriander, but have this year sprinkled a pack of seeds in the herb garden for my son (who loves it). I wonder if it will grow?

  4. Here we make a distinction, the seed and spice ground from them is called Coriander and the plant is called Cilantro. Each has a distinctive taste. Coincidentally I had never heard of Vietnamese Coriander/Cilantro before yesterday, but I stopped by our local nursery and they had some. It seems a bit more lemon like than regular Cilantro. I think I will give it a try. I love regular Cilantro. I blend it with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper and keep it in a squeeze bottle in the fridge. Goes great on eggs, fish, steak or chicken.

    1. The word cilantro isn't used in the UK at all. It's all called coriander, first time I'd read an American blog talk about it I had to Google it to find out what it was!
      That's a real coincidence, I'd never heard of it before Wednesday. Its meant to be good with fish. i might have to make your sause, how long does it keep for?

    2. Kev: Cilantro is the Spanish word for the plant/leaf. Likely adopted here in the US due to is popularity in Mexican cooking. I make a batch of my sauce and in the fridge its good for at least a month or more. Though It usually gets consumed sooner than that.

  5. i will look for this. i use a lot of cilantro and hate growing it because of how fast it bolts.

    1. For me cilantro changes the tatse of so many meals. It makes curries tatse authentic but as a gardener I just don't get on with it.

  6. We have very mixed luck with Coriander growing around here. The Wife is the herb specialist so I am not up to date on her success or failure, I just build her the beds, but I know some years we never have enough to make salsa and stuff with and need to go buy some.

  7. I have never seen Chilean guavas, but they used to grow wild in Florida when I was young. I enjoyed them, but haven't seen any in years now.

  8. Kev, your Vietnamese Coriander looks a lot like a herb we have here in Tasmania called Thai Basil. It dies back in winter but is prolific in self seeding come Spring. I don't think it tastes anything like coriander but does have a strong Asian flavour. I grow coriander in the cooler months here, and Tasmania does get cool, where once again it will self seed. We have also cultivated the Chilean guava, and once well established in pots have transferred them to the ground where they do equally as well. Good luck and have fun. Jan

    1. I've been watching a series of programmes on Tazzy and really enjoying them - Makes me want to go visit! As for the Thai Basil I'll look out for it I got given some holy basil seeds when I was in Thailand a few years ago but hey didn't germinate unfortunately.

  9. You've got an impressive international garden collection Kev! Surprise me how many can be grown in UK!
    BTW, your set of seeds are now in UK but waiting for your postal address. I think your email got some problem. Is it OK for you to post your mailing address in my blog comment. I will delete it as soon as I've got it. Thanks.

    1. I've still not had your email so I think there may be a problem. I'll find a way!
      the greenhouse is key to growing so much more over here. One day I'll have a heated one and be able to grow even more!

  10. I havent had either. Coriander is a tricky one to bring it on I use the green house and then when hot weather I put it outside. But Dill. now there is a herb I really like.

    1. Fennel and dill I love the look of and normally grow them (I don't have much choice with Fennel as it self seeds everywhere) but I don;t use them much as my wife doesn't like the taste.

  11. Kev, what they have labelled as Vietnamese Coriander...
    looks like a knotweed of waste places called Redshank to me...
    so I did a little research.

    Although Vietnamese coriander [Polygonum odoratum or Persicaria odorata] looks just the same... and is a perenial....
    Redshank, tho', is an annual...
    And the Latin name for Redshank is Polygonum persicaria or Persicaria maculosa....

    I think they might well be closely related...
    both having the same reddish V-shape on the leaves....
    most Bistorts are plain leaved.
    extracts [purins] of Redshank reduce black bean aphid....
    but there never is any here when the Broad Beans get aphid!!

    Both are members of what we call the Dock family....
    and the Yankees call the Buckwheat family....
    we use Buckwheat as a green manure...
    very good and can be used anywhere because it doesn't affect your crop rotation.

    I also found this about Redshank on
    "The leaves and young shoots can be eaten as a palatable and nutritious leafy green. Their taste is rather bland. In fact, redshank doesn't even taste "green", which is an advantage if you want to add greens to your diet but are a bit weary of their taste. As the plant grows taller and starts to flower, the leaf gets tougher, but not too tough to chew on (though this is a very personal thing of course).
    In this case, the absence of flavor by no means indicates lack of nutrients! So add redshank to your juices, dips, soups as a free green superfood and enjoy."

    So I shall be using it now instead of composting it!
    Well, I'll give it a try.

    And for your P.odorata cuttings...
    root them in water first... roots appear from leaf nodes... the knot.
    Apparently fresh Vietnamese coriander is sold in some French Asian supply shops...
    and roots easily...
    so I shall keep an open for it when I go to the Paris Store in Tours....
    nothing to do with Paris... it is a huge Asian supplies shop.

    And sow your real coriander thickly and cut it regularly....
    then chop well and freeze it in ice-cube trays...
    you can pack about a heaped tablespoonful of chopped coriander into a cube...
    add a little water to bind it... and when frozen bag the cubes up in a ZipLock....
    for green coriander in cooking put in at the point the recipe says...
    for "fresh" green coriander in soups add it just before serving and stir the melted block in....
    or, put the block in and let the guests stir their own in...

  12. Oh by the way I can assure you it is Vietnamese Coriander......I know what Redshank is all the same family. Don't forget its not hardy in our part of the country must have winter protection. So interesting to hear all the comments from around the world. Enjoy :)

    1. I didn't say it was Redshank... please read the whole comment... I said it looked like it!!
      I am now on the lookout for Vietnam Coriander [P.odorata] as it sounds a useful addition to the herbarium...
      It will be a problem, though, making sure that what we are growing is actually P.odorata... if from seed...
      Redshank is all too common around here...
      we have the same problem with Verbena bonariensis....
      seedlings look exactly the same as the wild Vervain... which is everywhere.... and there is only so much soil you can sterilize in the microwave!!

    2. I'll do a bit of research into this redshanks to see if I can then forage for it around here. The smell of this Vietnamese coriander is so distinctive it would be had to get it confused once you'd smelt it.
      The Cottage Herbery - I have found some Papalo seeds from Chiltern Seeds so I'll be trying them out later in this month.

  13. Hello - many thanks for giving me the update on the chilean guavas! Apologies I didnt see the post until now. Wow the plants have done really well and am looking forward to trying mine- as managed to source some more recently- but are only as big as your cuttings! Fingers crossed I get some good growth this year! Thanks again for taking the time to doa catch up! Owen


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