Cilantro how to cut

How To Harvest Cilantro

Cilantro is a popular, short-lived herb. If you wish to increase the life span of cilantro, harvesting it regularly will help greatly.

How to Harvest Cilantro

When it comes to cilantro, harvesting is relatively easy. All that is required is cutting cilantro plants about one-third of the way down. The top one-third is what you will use to cook with and the bottom two-thirds will grow new leaves.

How Often Should You Harvest Cilantro?

You should be harvesting cilantro about once a week. If the plant is growing well, you can harvest more often. Either way, you’ll need to harvest the cilantro at least once a week to help stave off bolting. After harvesting the cilantro, if you aren’t able to cook with it immediately, you can freeze the cuttings until you’re ready to cook with them.

How Do You Cut Cilantro?

When cutting the cilantro stem, make sure that you are using sharp, clean shears or scissors. Leave a few leaves on the intact stem so that the plant will still be able to generate food for itself.

Now that you know how to harvest cilantro, you know that cilantro harvesting is easy and painless. Harvesting cilantro is an excellent way to have fresh herbs for your Mexican and Asian dishes as well as keeping your cilantro plants usable a little longer.

How to Trim Your Herbs and Keep Them Happy!

People grow herbs for many different reasons. Some want to use fresh herbs in their cooking or for medicinal reasons. Others might just like the aromatic scents of the herbs. Whatever your reason is, herbs need to be used for them to thrive.

Regular pruning promotes general health while preventing plants from getting leggy and unattractive. Whether you are growing herbs outside in the ground or in pots, or inside on a windowsill, you need to trim them regularly. Here are a few simple steps to keeping your herbs looking good:

  • Always cut your herbs with sharp, clean scissors or clippers. This prevents plant damage and promotes the growth of the plant.
  • If you are pinching with your fingers, clean your hands before starting.
  • Start snipping leaves from annual plants like Basil, cilantro, stevia and dill* as soon as the plant is strong. Cut whole stems and then separate leaves from stems. Harvest in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Harvest flowering herbs like basil, sage and thyme before their flowers bloom. Once they bloom, the leaves lose their flavor. I prefer to snip off all the flower buds so that the plant lasts longer. Once the plant flowers it will start to make seeds and stop producing leaves.
  • Cut parsley and chive stems close to the base, about an inch from the soil. New growth should appear in about a week.
  • Prune new growth from perennial herbs like rosemary, sage and tarragon every week during the summer. Pinch off the top 2 inches of all new shoots to encourage a fuller plant with strong root growth.

* With dill you may be growing it for the seeds so let it flower and the greens will start to die back.

Below is a chart to help you with caring for your herbs:





Basil annual


dies at 50 degrees
Chives annual


Cilantro (corriander) annual


harvest seeds
Dill annual


plant often, short-lived
Lavender perennial


cut stems to old wood

Marjoram tender perennial


Mint perennial



spreads quickly

Oregano perennial


Parsley biennial


2 yr. growth cycle

Rosemary perennial


Sage perennial


Tarragon perennial


Thyme perennial


Caring for an herb garden might be a little more work but the results are worth the time and effort. Nothing beats the smell of fresh cut herbs in the morning!

Cilantro leaves have a flavor that most people either love or hate. But even if you think cilantro tastes like soap, you should still consider growing a few plants in your garden, because cilantro and the spice coriander both come from the same plant, Coriandrum sativum.

In the United States most people grow this delicious, multi-purpose herb for its leaves, but its delicious Coriander seeds are entirely worth harvesting and taste nothing like cilantro leaves. Cilantro is a cool season herb that goes to seed quickly during the long, hot days of summer.

The plant’s round, lobed leaves turn feathery as it lengthens up towards the sky. Pretty masses of small white flowers soon appear. These nectar-and-pollen rich blossoms attract tons of pollinators, especially honey bees and syrphid flies. As the blossoms begin to fade, small, round, kelly green coriander seeds appear.

Photo via .com

Coriander’s flavor is truly unique—citrusy and slightly nutty, and it pairs very well with beans, lentils, rice, and roasted or grilled vegetables. The seeds can be harvested when they are young and bright green, or you can wait to harvest them until they turn brown. I like to harvest them at the green stage, because their flavor is sharper and more pronounced, and because the only place you can find green coriander seed is in a garden. I’ve never once spotted them at a grocery store or in a farmers’ market. The seeds keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks if stored in a lidded glass container, and they freeze well too.

Photo via .com

If you’d like to harvest the mature brown seed, either to plant next year or to grind and use throughout the winter, wait until the majority of the seed turns brown. Then, cut off the seed heads along with a few inches of stalk and hang them upside down in a brown paper bag.

When the seeds are fully dry, they will fall out of the heads and into the bottom of the bag. Store the dry seed in a lidded glass jar in a cool, dry location. For the best flavor, grind it right before use. You won’t believe the difference in taste between freshly ground coriander seed and the pre-ground stuff usually available at the supermarket. Experiment using green coriander seed in marinades and dressings. The flavor of dry, ground coriander works especially well with cumin, so I often add an equal amount of coriander to recipes that call for cumin.

P.S. It also tastes phenomenal when infused in vodka!

Quick Guide to Growing Cilantro

  • Plant cilantro during the cool days of spring or fall.
  • Grow cilantro in an area that receives full sun and has rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Offer afternoon shade if you live in a warmer climate.
  • Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. For growing in containers, consider a premium bagged potting mix.
  • Keep soil moist and use a soaker hose or drip irrigation if necessary.
  • Encourage prolific leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
  • Harvest cilantro leaves once they are large enough to eat. Avoid harvesting more than a third of the plant at any one time.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Start by choosing strong young Bonnie Plants® cilantro starter plants to give you an added measure of success in the garden. Bonnie cilantro is already well on its way to maturity and comes from a company with over a century of experience helping home gardeners grow their own food.

Grow cilantro in full sun, though it will also tolerate light shade in the South and Southwest where the sun is intense. In the South and Southwest, plant in the fall or early spring, about a month before the last frost. Fall is the ideal time to plant in zones 8, 9, and 10 because the plants will last through until the weather heats up in late spring. In the North, plant cilantro in late spring. When plants begin to bloom, the foliage will become scarce; for a steady harvest, set out plants every 3 to 4 weeks until the weather gets warm in spring, or until the first fall frost.

Plant cilantro in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. You can either conduct a soil test or simply improve your soil by mixing a few inches of aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil in with the top layer of your existing soil. If you plan to grow cilantro in a container, you’ll have more success if you fill the pot with premium potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix, which also contains lots of nutritious compost. Don’t use in-ground or garden soil in pots, as it’s too heavy.

Cilantro frequently self-sows. As seeds fall to the ground, little plants may pop up during the season and the following spring. One way to keep cilantro in check is to grow it indoors in a hydroponic (or water-based) system, like the Miracle-Gro® Twelve™ Indoor Growing System. Simple to use, it guides cilantro to produce an impressively large harvest. Plants go directly in the water, which circulates moisture, air, and nutrients to the roots, and a grow light provides all the light needed by the plants.

How to Know When to Harvest Cilantro

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If you like Mexican food like I do, you need to know how to harvest cilantro so it’s always fresh for your recipes! I love to share garden ideas, and this one is so important! These tips will help maximize the quantity of your cilantro crop and help you get your cilantro harvested when the flavor is at it’s peak. If you don’t know what you are doing it can lose flavor. It loses flavor once it “goes to seed”. Keep reading and I will tell you all about that!

You cannot keep it from going to seed indefinitely, but you can delay it significantly if you harvest cilantro properly. The tips in this post will help you know when to harvest your cilantro leaves to get the most out of your plant before it goes to seed!

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When is the Best Time to Grow Cilantro?

Hot weather makes cilantro go to seed quickly (we don’t want that!). Cilantro does better in a little cooler temperatures. Spring and fall are usually the best times to grow cilantro plants and get the most out of them.

It can be a good idea to “cycle” your cilantro plants. Plant some cilantro, then a few weeks later while harvesting those plants, plant a few more cilantro seeds. That way by the time the first plants go to seed, the second plants are ready to harvest, and so on.

What Does It Mean When Cilantro “Goes to Seed”?

When cilantro goes to seed it grows a long stalk with whitish flowers. This is also known as “bolting”. The bad news is, once those whitish flowers are there, that plant is about done giving you yummy, flavorful cilantro leaves. You can’t just cut off the white flowers and get the flavorful cilantro leaves back. But…there is a silver lining to this cloud! Eventually those whitish flowers will turn to seed!

If you let those seeds dry completely it makes the herb coriander (yep, you get two different herbs from one plant-did you know that?). If you live in an especially hot area, there are slow-bolt types of cilantro seeds available which may delay the plant going to seed a bit (slow-bolt cilantro can handle a little higher temperatures).

How Do You Know When to Harvest Cilantro Leaves?

When cilantro grows, it starts out with leaves like this:

When the leaves are flavorful and ready to pick for cooking, they turn more lacy looking, like this:

At this point you should harvest the leaves at least once a week. When harvesting cilantro, you can pick the whole plant if you wish, but it isn’t necessary and will obviously decrease how much cilantro you will get from the plant over time.

To harvest just the cilantro leaves, you clip them off near the stem of the plant with gardening shears, then put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them to cook.

To make the cilantro leaves stay fresh longer, you can refrigerate them in a sealed mason jar. If you will not be able to use all of the cilantro leaves while they are fresh, you can dry them and bottle them for your spice rack. To do that you can use the same method that I used to dry parsley in this post. It is important to remember that dried cilantro is not as flavorful as fresh cilantro, so you may need to use more of it than you expect.

If you see these little seed pods on your plant, that means it is getting ready to go to seed.

Cilantro is delish, but can definitely be a source of frustration for gardeners. I hope these tips on how to harvest cilantro have helped! It’s lots of fun planting your own organic herb seeds, growing them, and then using them in your kitchen.

See ya next time!


P.S. If you want to get the most out of all of your garden produce, !

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