How To Prune Cilantro: 4 Steps You Need To Know

Coriander leaves

Is the cilantro in your garden flourishing, and now 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 correctly?

In this guide, we will discuss how to prune cilantro and what the appropriate steps are for 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 (ten inches). After that, the plant may begin to flower, causing the cilantro leaves to take on a bitter taste. Pruning cilantro more often encourages new growth and prevents premature flowering.

We will tell you everything you need to know about pruning cilantro.

Let’s jump right into the guide!

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

What tools do you need when pruning cilantro?

There are only a few tools needed to prune a 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 to the scissors. It keeps viruses, fungi, and bacteria off of the cut area. That should ensure the cilantro plants do not get infected with disease later on.
  • A Paper Bag. You may ask yourself, “Why do I need a paper bag?” The cilantro may already have started flowering. In that case, you will use the paper bag to collect coriander pods, while waiting 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 means cutting off leaves that turn yellow, wilt, or get damaged. It could also mean snipping the plant’s stem from the bottom, if it has a length between four and six inches.

You should only remove a couple of stems. Chopping many 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 cilantro 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. They will develop new stems and leaves if 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 time goes on, a cilantro plant will approach the end of its lifecycle. It will develop a flattened bunch of white, pink, or light lavender flowers. When the flowers emerge, the cilantro grows tall and slender. It will also lose many 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 the flower stalks as soon as they become visible. Also, cut the stems at their bottom if the plant’s stems have green buds at their terminals. Please 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. Your main aim of growing cilantro may be to harvest coriander seeds. In that case, don’t remove the flowering stems or reap the leaves.

After planting, you only have to wait three months for the seeds to be ready. The cilantro plant will start turning brown and form 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. Do this until the seeds begin falling out of the cases into the bag. 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 will grow back in one or two weeks, so you can harvest once every week.

Steps to Take when Harvesting Cilantro

  • If you only need a couple of cilantro leaves, harvest one at a time.
  • You may want to harvest the cilantro in larger quantities. If so, leave one or two inches of stem above the soil’s surface.
  • Use sharp, 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. Then, you can put it in a storage container and place it in your refrigerator. It should last between seven and ten days.

Or, you may have a smaller amount you can use in the next few days. All you have to do is chop the end of the stems at a slanting angle and put the cilantro in a container with water. Leave it on top of your kitchen counter. And ensure that the stems are adequately submerged without soaking up the leaves. You may also choose to dry the cilantro for long-term storage—up to one year!

Grow Cilantro During Spring and Early Fall

In general, cilantro grows best when the temperatures are not too hot. Although it can do well in summer, the intense heat causes premature blooming; it’s best to stick to spring and fall. You will need to provide special conditions to keep the plant flourishing. For instance, water it more regularly to keep it hydrated and use a fan to keep it cool.

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

  • Be sure to get rid of weeds during the growing process
  • During planting, use the coriander (seeds) and use mulch to cover the spot. It prevents the area near the coriander root from becoming much too warm. It will also stop it from developing a flower before it should.
  • Wait for the season to warm up. Then you can begin growing cilantro plants near each other or near taller companions. By doing this, the plants can provide shade to each other.

Stick to the above steps; your cilantro plants will grow for up to two months without premature blooming. 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—Latin, Indian, and Asian are the most common. Recently, these flowers have been gaining popularity in other cultures’ cuisines too.

Source: Shutterstock

What Do You Do With Flowered Cilantro?

Unfortunately, as soon as cilantro blooms, the leaves 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) is a spice found in countless ethnic recipes. They’ve found their way into the cuisines of Mexico, Asia, India, and many other countries.

How Do You Take Care Of Cilantro Plants?

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

Be sure to leave a space of about six to eight inches between the herbs. You may want to reap fresh cilantro the entire season. To do so, sow every two to three weeks, beginning in 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. You’ll find amazing results if you chop off the flower heads and shorten the plant. This is because you’ll be steering the cilantro plant’s energy to the leaves, not the seed or flower development.

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 taking care of this herb, please share them in the comments below!

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