What Is It?
Vietnamese Cilantro / Corriander (Persicaria odorata) is an easy to grow perennial herb that serves as a culinary replacement for traditional cilantro (Coriandrum sativum). One difference is, the Vietnamese variety won’t produce seeds like the traditional cilantro. It’s native to Southeast Asia and grow best in hot tropical climates. Outside of South East Asia, this variety of coriander is virtually unknown. In Vietnam it’s commonly called Rau Ram.
It’s used in traditional medicine to treat indigestion and stomach ache. Also, according to the Wikipedia gods, Rau Ram is used in Vietnam to repress sexual urges and commonly eaten by celibate Buddhist monks. I’ve not noticed this effect, but I maybe I need to eat more, wait……..why would I do that?
Why Plant Vietnamese Cilantro?
Ceviche!!!! If you’ve ever been to Central America, you know all about this tasty dish. It’s fish diced up and soaked in lemon juice, salt, peppers and other veggies. Cilantro is a primary ingredient in ceviche recipes. You can have it growing year round in your garden ready for the next fresh fish catch. I posted a link to a Costa Rican ceviche recipe below. Cilantro is also famous for its role in Mexican Pico de Gallo.
Also, Vietnamese Cilantro is by far the easiest form of cilantro to grow in hot climates. You can try to grow traditional cilantro (the kind you find in bunches at the grocery store) in a hot tropical climate, but you’ll probably spend the summer in utter frustration. Conversely Vietnamese cilantro grows like a ground cover and propagates easily in the heat. It’s a nobrainer addition to any herb garden. It doesn’t need much maintenance and isn’t bothered by insects. Why wouldn’t you plant it?
How To Grow Vietnamese Cilantro
It’s can be propagated from cuttings in water. We propagate it in our aquaponics system by cutting a 4-5 inch piece, sticking it halfway into the rock grow beds, and walla, a week later it’s rooted and ready to plant. You can do the same in a glass of water in the kitchen. It’s an understory tropical ground cover and grows best with afternoon shade or all day filtered shade and plenty of water. It prefers moist soil, so I suggest planting it in areas that may take longer to drain. Vietnamese Cilantro can also grow well around the base of fruit trees. It makes an excellent edible landscaping plant. And don’t worry, it might grow like a weed, but it’s not an invasive species.
If you plant it in a container, it will spread quickly. Be ready to move your plant into a bigger container, split it or put in the ground. Once it get’s rootbound, it’ll stop producing its leaves and die off.