How to Cut Cilantro from Your Garden for Continuous Harvests



Imagine the zesty kick of fresh cilantro elevating your homemade salsa or the aromatic allure of this herb enhancing your Thai curry. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), a cool-weather herb cherished in Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisines, is not only a culinary delight but also a gardening gift that keeps on giving.

With the right technique, you can harvest cilantro multiple times throughout the growing season, ensuring a steady supply of those vibrant, flavorful leaves. The ‘cut and come again’ method is a simple yet effective approach that allows gardeners to enjoy repeated yields from a single plant.

This introductory guide will walk you through the steps to maximize your cilantro harvest, from the initial snip to the joy of sprinkling those freshly cut leaves onto your favorite dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a green-thumbed novice, the art of harvesting cilantro is an easy and rewarding endeavor that can transform your culinary creations and your garden’s bounty.

Preparing Your Cilantro for Harvest

Your cilantro plants are eager to contribute to your kitchen’s flavor profile, but before you reach for the scissors, ensure they’re primed for picking. When your cilantro stands tall at about 6 inches, it’s a clear signal that it’s ready for its first trim.

This initial cut is more than a harvest; it’s an invitation for the plant to flourish with new growth. By trimming a quarter to a third of the leaves, you’re not only adding zest to your meals but also encouraging the plant to bush out, rather than becoming tall and spindly.

Start this practice around four weeks after planting, when the plants have firmly taken root and are showing robust signs of life. It’s a delicate balance, as older leaves can develop a bitterness that detracts from cilantro’s signature fresh and tangy flavor.

So, keep a keen eye on your green friends and remember that regular trims can mean the difference between a one-hit wonder and a season-long symphony of taste.

The Best Techniques for Cutting Cilantro

When it comes to harvesting cilanthow-do-i-cut-cilantro-from-my-gardenro, the key is to cut without causing damage, ensuring the plant remains healthy for future growth. The best technique involves using a pair of sharp scissors or shears, which allows for a clean cut that doesn’t tug at the plant’s roots or disrupt new shoots. Aim to snip the stems about an inch above the new growth or soil level; this encourages the plant to regenerate quickly.

Avoid the temptation to just pull the leaves off, as this can harm the delicate stems and potentially uproot the plant. For those times when you’re after just a few leaves to garnish your dish, utilize kitchen scissors to delicately trim what you need. This method prevents bruising and keeps the leaves looking vibrant and appetizing.

Remember, gentle handling is paramount; cilantro is tender and responds best to a soft touch. By following these straightforward practices, you’ll ensure your cilantro plants are prolific and your kitchen is never without this versatile herb.

When to Harvest Cilantro

Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting cilantro. To capture the essence of this herb at its peak, tune into the rhythms of the seasons. During the cooler months of spring and fall, cilantro thrives, and that’s when your shears should be busiest. Harvesting often during these periods not only rewards you with the freshest flavors but also encourages the plant to continue producing those lush leaves.

As the days progress, keep a watchful eye on your cilantro. About 120 days after planting, the plant will begin to bolt, sending up flower stalks as it enters the next phase of its life cycle. This is a critical juncture; you can harvest the leaves swiftly to savor their flavor before it diminishes, or you can allow the plant to complete its bolting process. If you choose the latter, you’ll have the opportunity to collect coriander seeds, a spice that offers a whole new dimension to your culinary adventures. But remember, never cut more than a third of the plant at once; this ensures it retains enough strength to recover and flourish. By timing your harvests just right, you can enjoy the dual delights of cilantro leaves and coriander seeds from the same plant.

Storing and Preserving Your Harvest

Once you’ve gathered your cilantro bounty, the next crucial step is storage and preservation to extend its freshness. Fresh cilantro can be stored in a couple of ways to maintain its vibrant taste.

One method is to place the stems in a jar of water, just like a bouquet of flowers, and cover the leaves with a plastic bag before refrigerating. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, keeping the cilantro crisp and perky.

Alternatively, wrap the stems in a damp kitchen towel and tuck them into the crisper drawer of your fridge.

For those looking to preserve cilantro for the long haul, consider freezing. Chop the leaves, pack them into ice cube trays, cover with water, and freeze. You’ll have convenient cilantro cubes ready to drop into soups and stews.

Drying is another preservation route. Tie bunches of cilantro and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight. Once dry, crumble the leaves and store them in an airtight container. While dried cilantro loses some of its punch, it’s still a great addition to many dishes.

With these simple steps, your cilantro harvest will continue to enliven your cooking long after the garden has been put to bed.

Preventing Common Cilantro Growing Issues

Cilantro lovers know the heartbreak of a leggy plant or the premature end to a harvest when the plant bolts to flower. To keep your cilantro robust and bushy, adequate light is essential. A common mistake is not providing enough sunlight, which causes the plant to stretch skyward, resulting in weak and thin stems. Ensure your cilantro gets at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily; this will keep it stocky and strong.

But what about when your cilantro gets a little too eager and shoots up flower stalks? This is the plant’s natural cycle, yet it can be disheartening if you’re not ready to say goodbye to those tender leaves. The trick is to pinch back the plant just as it begins to flower. Nip those buds early, and you’ll encourage the plant to refocus its energy on leaf production rather than seed development. This isn’t a farewell; it’s a strategic pause, allowing you to extend the leafy greens’ harvest time. With these proactive steps, your cilantro will be less likely to bolt and more likely to provide a prolonged and plentiful harvest.


As we wrap up our green-thumbed journey, it’s clear that harvesting cilantro is an art form that rewards patience and precision. The ‘cut and come again’ method is not just a catchy phrase; it’s the cornerstone of sustainable harvesting, ensuring that your garden remains a verdant source of flavor for your culinary masterpieces. By adhering to the proper techniques, such as timely snips and careful storage, your cilantro will be more than just an herb; it will be a testament to your gardening prowess.

Embrace the versatility of cilantro, from the fresh leaves that dance atop a street taco to the earthy seeds that crown a fragrant curry. Each cut, each harvest, brings new opportunities to infuse your dishes with the essence of your garden. As the seasons change and your cilantro plants sway in the gentle breeze, take pride in the knowledge that your efforts have cultivated more than just an herb—they’ve cultivated a tradition of flavor and freshness that can be savored in every bite. Happy harvesting!