How to prune cilantro to promote growth: tips to enjoy this tasty herb for longer

Learning how to prune cilantro is easy and will reward you with neater plants and an extended harvest time

coriander plant
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If you're a fan of this aromatic herb, then you may be wondering how to prune cilantro, otherwise known as coriander, to encourage more growth. And really, it couldn't be simpler.

Learning how to grow cilantro is easy in itself – whether you're raising plants from seeds, tending to a container on a sunny window sill, or planting a pot into a herb bed outdoors. Delicious in curries, Mexican food, soups, and more, it packs a punch in the kitchen. 

And although coriander is an annual, regularly cutting these plants back will help you get the most from your crop, as you'll be able to enjoy the fresh flavor for months on end. Our guide explains how to do it.

coriander in pot

Coriander can be grown in a pot or straight in the ground

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Simple tips on how to prune cilantro so it keeps growing

'Regular picking encourages more leaves to sprout,' says the RHS (opens in new tab) – similar to how deadheading geraniums encourages new blooms. This makes this cut-and-come-again crop a must-have for your herb garden ideas

A key benefit of pruning cilantro is that it will delay the plants' development of seeds, thus extending the time that you can harvest the leaves. It will also keep your plants looking neat and tidy rather than leggy and droopy. 

Wait until your plant is around 6 inches (15cm) tall, then take a pair of sharp, clean scissors and snip out stems towards the base, ideally just above a leaf or secondary stem. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the plant at a time as this can weaken it.

To promote new growth, it's best to harvest cilantro from a different section of your plant each time. If you're growing your cilantro in a pot, simply rotate the pot each time you cut some. By the time you get back to the first section, new growth is likely to have appeared. If you spot flower buds developing, remove these stems to prolong the plant's life further.

If you don't want to use your harvested cilantro straight away, you can always freeze it for a later date.

cutting coriander plant

Prune coriander using sharp scissors to avoid damaging the plant

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Should you prune cilantro once it has flowered?

Once your cilantro has developed flowers, the leaves lose their tasty flavor and instead, turn bitter. Allow them to go to seed (usually 2–3 weeks after they've flowered) and you can then collect them up ready to sow for a brand new batch. Alternatively, you can use the dried seeds as a spice in the kitchen. Try growing some of the best herbs to grow indoors, too, for an extra flavor boost for your food.

Once the seeds have turned brown and matured, simply prune off the stems with the seed heads intact, and put them into a paper bag where they will continue to dry out. If you don't prune your plants at this stage, they will simply self-sow.

coriander flowers

Once your coriander plant has flowered, you can let it develop seeds for collecting

(Image credit: John Richmond/Alamy Stock Photo)
Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.