How To Prune Cilantro: 4 Steps You Need To Know

Coriander leaves

Is the cilantro in your garden flourishing and you are wondering when would be the right time to prune it? Or is it already flowering, and you want to find out how to prune it? In this article, we will discuss how to prune cilantro and steps to taking care of this herb.

Cilantro is an easy plant to maintain. It takes between 60 and 75 days to attain a suitable harvesting size (10 inches). After which it may begin to flower causing the cilantro leaves to acquire a bitter taste. Pruning cilantro frequently encourages new growth and prevents premature flowering.

We will tell you everything you need to know about pruning cilantro. Let’s jump right in!

How To Prune Cilantro: A Step-By-Step Guide

What tools do you need when pruning cilantro?

You only require a few tools to properly prune your cilantro plant. Here is a look at the necessary tools:

  • Scissors. You need a pair of well-sharpened gardening scissors. This way, every cut you make will be fast and clean, with no rough parts that appear unaesthetic.
  • Rubbing Alcohol. Before pruning cilantro, apply alcohol on the scissors. It keeps off viruses, fungi, and bacteria from the cut area ensuring the cilantro plants do not get infected with disease later on.
  • A Paper Bag. You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need a paper bag?” If the cilantro has already started flowering, you will use the paper bag to collect coriander pods as you wait for the seeds to detach. You can also use it to hold the harvested cilantro leaves.

Step 1: Prune Lightly

Sometimes, cilantro leaves become yellow or get damaged by pests, the sun, or diseases. Pruning lightly involves cutting off leaves that turn yellow, wilt, or get damaged. Or, snipping the plant’s stem from the bottom if it has a length of between four and six inches.

You can only remove a couple of stems. Otherwise, chopping numerous stems can make the plant feeble and stunted. A weak plant develops flowers early, and this reduces its lifespan. Pruning cilantro lightly keeps the plant clean, and you’ll get a little harvest of leaves to use in your meals.

Step 2: Prune Clumps

Using one hand, hold the coriander plant’s base. Then, prune all the stems at the bottom, one to two inches from the surface. You can fasten a thread around the bottom to hold the clump together. The cilantro stand clumps sprouts again developing new stems and leaves as long as the growing conditions are favorable.

When you prune cilantro clumps, you get a blend of big, fully-grown, and tiny leaves to use in your kitchen.

Step 3: Prune the Flowers

As a cilantro plant approaches the end of its lifecycle, it develops a flattened bunch of white, pink, or light lavender flowers. When the flowers emerge, cilantro grows tall and slender. Also, it loses numerous wide and flat leaves. Soon after flowering, the cilantro leaves die, and the plant develops seeds.

You can prolong the plant’s growing season if you prune the flowers. Cut off the flower stalks as soon as they become visible. Also, if the plant’s stems have green buds at their terminals, cut the stems at their bottom. Do not use any residual stems and leaves in your recipes as they are bitter.

Step 4: Prune the Coriander Seeds

Once the flowers are pollinated, coriander seeds develop on the cilantro plants. If your main aim of growing cilantro is to harvest coriander seeds, don’t get rid of the flowering stems or reap the leaves.

After planting, you only have to wait for three months, and the seeds will be ready. The cilantro plant starts turning brown and forms a yellow-brown cilantro seed case. Cut off the seed case stems at the bottom. Then, suspend the seed cases upside-down in a paper sack in a well-ventilated area until the seeds begin falling out of the cases into the sack. During wetter seasons, leave the seed cases on the cilantro plant and it will self-seed.

Cilantro Plants
Source: Unsplash

How Do You Prevent Cilantro From Flowering Prematurely?

Harvesting Regularly

You can reap cilantro once the stems are long, and the leaves are lacy-looking. The cilantro plant is usually between ten and twelve inches tall during harvesting. You can harvest cilantro in spring or early summer depending on when you planted it. Usually, cilantro is ready for harvesting in 75-90 days after planting.

The best time to harvest is in the morning when the leaves have not wilted due to excess heat. Use a pair of gardening shears to snip the stems. They grow back in one or two weeks; therefore, you can harvest once every week.

Steps to Take when Harvesting Cilantro

  • If you only require a couple of cilantro leaves, harvest singly.
  • Leave about one or two inches of stem above the surface of the soil if you’re harvesting cilantro in large quantities.
  • Utilize sharp and disinfected snips or yard shears to chop the stems smoothly.

How Do You Store Harvested Cilantro?

If you have lots of freshly harvested cilantro, wrap it in a wet kitchen towel, put it in a storage container, and then place it in your refrigerator. It should last between 7 and 10 days.

Alternatively, if you have a smaller amount that you can use in the next few days, chop the end of the stems at a slanting angle and put the cilantro in a container with water on top of your kitchen counter. Ensure that the stems are adequately submerged without soaking up the leaves. You may also dry the cilantro for long-term storage – up to 1 year.

Grow Cilantro During Spring and Early Fall

Generally, cilantro grows best during spring or fall when the temperatures are not extremely hot. Although it can do well in summer, the intense heat causes premature blooming. Also, you will need to provide special conditions to keep the plant flourishing. For instance, water more regularly to keep it hydrated and use a fan to keep it cool.

During spring and early fall, cilantro will develop timely with a complete set of leaves. To enhance its productivity:

  • Ensure to get rid of weeds during the growing process
  • During planting, use the coriander (seeds) and use a mulch to cover the spot. It prevents the region close to the coriander root from becoming excessively warm and developing an untimely flower.
  • As soon as the season becomes warmer, begin growing cilantro plants near each other or near taller companions. By doing this, the plants provide shade to each other.

By adhering to the above steps, cilantro plants can grow for up to two months without blooming prematurely. Don’t forget to allow a couple of cilantro plants to bolt and develop coriander seeds. This way, you’ll have some coriander seeds to plant next time.

Can You Consume Cilantro Flowers?

Cilantro flowers are edible and flavorful. They are used in various recipes and cuisines – Latin, Indian, and Asian, and are gaining popularity in other cuisines too.

Source: Shutterstock

What Do You Do With Flowered Cilantro?

Unfortunately, as soon as cilantro blooms, the leaves quickly lose their taste. They become bitter and unpalatable. Even if you chop off the cilantro flowers, it won’t bring back the taste to its leaves.

Rather than cutting the flowers, allow them to grow and develop seeds. Cilantro herb seeds (coriander) are spices used in numerous ethnic recipes in Mexican, Asian, Indian, and many other cultures.

How Do You Take Care Of Cilantro Plants?

Since cilantro bolts fast in warm weather, it requires full sunlight or light shade in southern areas. It flourishes well in well-drained, damp soil.

Be sure to leave a space of between six and eight inches between the herbs. If you want to reap fresh cilantro the entire season, sow consecutively every two to three weeks beginning with late spring.

How Do You Make Cilantro Bushy?

To boost a fuller, bushier herb plant, fold-down developing cilantro plants by one inch or more. If the upper part of the primary stem grows seed cases or flower buds, prune it. By chopping off the flower heads and shortening the plant, you’ll be steering the energy of the cilantro plants not to the seed or flower development, but the leaves.

Conclusion

Learning how to prune cilantro at the right time makes it more productive and also puts off blooming. It extends the harvest before you can let the cilantro plant develop its coriander seeds.

We hope our guide on how to prune cilantro was helpful. If you have any tips or guides on how to take care of this herb, please share them in the comments below.

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I'm Jad, a biologist, blogger, and experienced indoor gardener. I am knowledgeable in plant biology, particularly in plant cultivation and propagation. I founded HerbsWithin.com in 2019 to share my knowledge in indoor gardening with passionate home growers.

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