Last Updated on December 30, 2022 by Cristina
In this article, we will look at how to cut a cilantro plant so you can keep harvesting leaves from it. Cilantro is in my opinion one of the most essential herbs to grow in your garden. Knowing how to harvest it for a longer period of time allows you to maximize your plant yield and enjoy the benefits of this herb in everything you cook!
What Is Cilantro?
Cilantro, Dthania, Coriander, etc. It goes by many names, but all of them are the same delicious green leafy plant that adds a zing to your cooking. This plant starts off life as a seed that you plant in nice rich compost-filled soil. You can buy a premix, or mix your own with a lot of compost, pearlite, sand, and loam. I add cow manure for nitrogen. This plant grows quite fast from the two-leaf to four-leaf and then the multi-leaf stage.
After a few weeks or a month or two depending on the time of year, it starts to go into flower and its leaves change shape. Eventually, the flowers form, and if these are pollinated, they form seeds known as coriander spice. When we use the green parts of the plant, we generally call that cilantro.
How To Harvest Cilantro Without Killing The Plant
I tend to always plant cilantro quite heavily. In this way, you will get to the four-leaf plant stage very fast – a week or two – and at this stage, you can harvest the plants whole to thin them out a bit. I just take a pair of scissors and clip the seedlings off at the root. This kills it!! But these taste the best. Once you have thinned your plants out so they are about 6 inches apart, you want to know how to cut a cilantro plant without killing it.
If you cut a leaf or two here and there, cut them close to the base of the plant – this will not kill the plant at all. I normally plant a lot of cilantro, so if you trim a leaf here and there, they are hardly affected. As the plants get bigger the leaves change – when it starts to flower the stalks get woody, so in this case literally just cut the leaves – these get a slightly different taste at this stage but they are still nice.
When the plant has flowered, you can also cut bunches of the green seeds off – I love this. It tastes much better than dry coriander.
If you over-harvest your cilantro you will see it will start growing slowly and this can trigger it to go into flower early. Always grow more cilantro than you need – this way you can harvest many individual leaves from lots of plants and keep them all happy and healthy.
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When Is Cilantro Ready To Harvest?
When we look at how to cut a cilantro plant we must look at the growth cycle. The first two leaves that come out are cotyledons. The next two look like cilantro leaves. When it has four proper-looking cilantro leaves, you can harvest the whole plant as microgreens. I do this to thin them out a bit and get them to the point where plants are about 6 inches apart. I intentionally plant them this densely, so as to be able to harvest baby cilantro as this just tastes so good.
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So it takes a few weeks to this stage. Work on three weeks. If you let the plant grow bigger, you can harvest leaves weekly from plants, and then after a month or two when it goes into the flowering stage you can harvest the leaves quite heavily. When it goes brown and dies, you can harvest the coriander seeds (assuming it died because it flowered and set seed). You should therefore be able to harvest some baby plants after three weeks, and get a month or two of leaves out of your bigger plants after that.
Does Cilantro Grow Back? – How To Cut A Cilantro Plant
When we consider how to cut a cilantro plant, we want to cut it in such a way that it will grow back. Hence if you cut the plant off at the root, it will die. If you cut the side leaves off, new leaves will grow back from the growth shoot. It is best not to cut off the growth shoot.
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How To Trim Cilantro
How to cut a cilantro plant and how to trim a cilantro plant are about the same thing. Always cut leaves from the side of the plant when it is in the growth stage. When it gets to the flowering stage, you can actually cut the heart of the flower whorl out as this appears – it tastes great – and this will force the side shoots in the flower to get more. These can also be harvested and so on. They have a pungent delicious taste to them.
Cilantro enjoys being quite aggressively harvested – if you do not do this it will just flower too soon. These plants are herbs and the more you “graze” them, the more flavor compounds they to try produce and protect themselves. The cilantro plant genuinely hopes that those pungent flavors it produces will discourage you from eating it! So much for that!
In Conclusion – How To Cut A Cilantro Plant
I hope this article has helped you to understand how to cut a cilantro plant. This herb is a must for any gardener, and knowing how to plant it densely so you can cut out some whole baby cilantro plants, and thin the planting until the plants are 6 inches apart is useful. Then you can harvest leaves safely from the side of the plant until it starts to flower.
When it flowers you can be quite brutal cutting off bunches of the whorls, and you should get some more nice leaves before it gets all woody. The green seeds that form after this stage are delicious when harvested fresh. If you let the plant go further, it will form coriander seeds – dry these and you have the best coriander spice you will ever taste.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.