The Q&A Archives: Cilantro Flowering

Question: This is the first time I have planted cilantro. I purchased the plants from a local nursery, and just days after planting them they started to flower.

One of my fellow gardeners said to leave the flowers and the plant would start to bush out. Another gardener said to pinch the flowers off, and the plant would grow bushy. A third said that the plant is kaput, and to start new plants.

Which one is correct? How can I get my cilantro plant to bush out?

Answer: It's difficult to coax cilantro to grow tasty leaves once it flowers. Your best bet is to go with gardener number three: start new plants.

Cilantro is an annual herb, a member of the parsley family. The seed is generally sown in cool spring temperatures for a summer crop, or as summer wanes for a fall crop. For good quality cilantro, harvest foliage prior to the formation of flowers. When the plant sets blossoms, foliage quality declines. Since yours has bloomed, you can leave the flowers on until the plant dies and then harvest the seeds (the seeds are the spice called coriander!). Grind the seeds to use in the kitchen, or save some to plant in August for a fall crop of cilantro.

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