Cilantro (also referred to as coriander) is a leafy herb that is an annual plant and can be grown with ease once you have replicated its preferred growing conditions.
Excessive exposure to sunlight, infrequent watering, and soil that drains too quickly are the most common reasons for a cilantro plant’s demise due to drought. Overwatering, excessive nitrogen fertilizer, or planting in pots without drainage can also cause the plant to wilt and its leaves to turn yellow, giving it a dying appearance.
Regular pruning of cilantro is crucial as it is an annual herb that withers away after blooming, hence preventing flowering can enhance its lifespan and encourage the growth of new leaves.
If you want to revive a dying cilantro plant, it is crucial to ensure that the plant receives its preferred growing conditions, including partial sun (preferably morning sun and afternoon shade), frequent watering, high-quality compost, planting in pots or containers with drainage holes at the base, and regular pruning.
Continue reading to learn how to apply these recommended techniques to bring your dying cilantro plant back to life…
Cilantro Wilting (Drought and Too Much Sun)
- Indications. The cilantro plant’s leaves are drooping and may be yellowing. Even with regular watering, cilantro can occasionally wilt.
- Reasons. Insufficient watering, fast-draining soil, excessive sunlight leading to temporary drooping in the daytime, and small containers drying out too soon are the causes.
Insufficient watering or temporary wilting due to extreme heat are the primary causes of cilantro plants drooping.
Cilantro plants have a high leaf count and surface area, which makes them prone to losing significant amounts of moisture through their leaves due to transpiration on hot or windy days.
In order to revive a dying cilantro plant, it is essential to keep the soil consistently moist so that the roots can absorb water more quickly than it is lost through their leaves. This will help ensure its health and prevent wilting.
Cilantro may wilt if the soil or potting mix is too sandy, stony, or drains too quickly, causing the roots to have difficulty absorbing water.
Small pots can cause cilantro plants to wilt because they have less soil capacity, which means they retain less moisture, leading to wilting when exposed to the sun.
Note that cilantro may wilt on hot days as a way to conserve moisture, but it will revive later in the evening when temperatures cool down. This is just a natural response to heat and doesn’t necessarily mean the cilantro is dying.
How to Revive a Wilting Cilantro Plant
If your cilantro is drooping, it can be rescued with ease. Follow these instructions to revive your wilted cilantro:
- Water your cilantro more often to maintain a consistently moist soil, but avoid over-saturating it. It is recommended to water your cilantro once or twice per week to prevent wilting, but during dry spells or high temperatures, you may need to increase watering frequency to at least three times a week or even daily to ensure the plant stays hydrated.
Make sure that your potting mix contains an ample amount of compost to retain moisture. Multi-purpose compost and leaf mould are excellent materials for potting mix as they both retain moisture while allowing excess water to drain away, facilitating root establishment. If you’re planting cilantro in a vegetable garden, enrich the planting area with plenty of compost and add mulch around the plant to preserve moisture.
- In case your cilantro is wilting and the pot size is less than 10 inches, it is advisable to transplant it into a container that has a minimum width of 12 inches. A larger container can accommodate more compost, which aids in retaining moisture and preventing cilantro from wilting.
- If your cilantro is prone to wilting in the sun on hot days, it may need to be shielded from direct sunlight. Look for a spot in your garden that receives partial or morning sun, followed by afternoon shade, as this will provide the ideal conditions for your cilantro to thrive and develop its flavor without being subjected to constant heat stress.
Regularly watering your cilantro is crucial to revive a dying plant. If the cause of wilting is dehydration, providing optimal soil conditions (rich in compost) and a sufficiently large pot can help the plant recover within a day or so.
Cilantro Dying After Planting (Transplant shock)
When cilantro is purchased from a store or garden center, or grown from seed indoors and then transplanted outdoors, it often appears droopy and in need of revival.
When the plant is grown for commercial purposes, it is usually cultivated in an environment that provides the optimal conditions, such as a greenhouse with full sun exposure, specific temperatures, watering and soil requirements. This type of cultivation is often used to ensure the best results.
When you plant cilantro in your garden, it may experience shock because of the difference in temperature, watering, and soil conditions from what it is used to.
Usually, the shock experienced by the plant due to transplantation is temporary and can be overcome as the root system adapts to the new soil and environment.
If the cilantro is grown in six hours of sunlight, high-quality compost, and receives regular watering, it will recover once it adjusts to the environment of your garden.
Consistently keeping the soil moist is crucial during the establishment of a cilantro plant as it can lose significant amounts of water through its large leaves, which helps to reduce the shock.
If you purchased a leggy cilantro plant, it is advisable to trim it down to approximately 8 inches as longer stems may indicate excessive nitrogen levels in the soil, leading to stem weakness and potential drooping.
Reducing stress on the cilantro and encouraging new growth can be achieved through pruning.
Cilantro Falling Over (Drooping)
If your cilantro plant is drooping and the stems cannot support their own weight, there could be multiple reasons for this issue:
- Excessive fertilizer. While fertilizer can be helpful in promoting new growth for cilantro, an overabundance of nitrogen-based fertilizer can lead to the plant falling over and yellowing of its leaves. Although nitrogen is a crucial nutrient for plants, too much of it can result in weakened stems and excessive growth, causing the cilantro to topple.
If your cilantro plant is drooping, it may be due to boggy soil caused by a lack of drainage holes in the base of the pot or a tray underneath it used to catch water. Cilantro needs moist soil, but if it becomes saturated, it can show signs of water stress such as drooping stems. Prolonged exposure to damp soil can lead to root rot, which causes drooping and yellow or brown foliage. Therefore, avoid using pots or containers without drainage holes in the base.
- Insufficient pruning. To maintain its appearance and prevent flowering, cilantro needs to be pruned regularly since it affects the taste of the leaves. Consistent pruning encourages the growth of delicious and delicate leaves that are ideal for cooking.
If the cilantro is not suffering from dehydration, it may droop after being transplanted due to shock or insufficient exposure to sunlight, or conversely, excessive heat and sunlight.
How to Revive Cilantro That is Falling Over
To revive a cilantro plant that has fallen over, it is essential to replicate its ideal growing environment and perform frequent pruning.
- During Summer, trimming your cilantro every three weeks is necessary to avoid excessive height, legginess, falling over or flowering; maintaining a stem height of 8 inches is ideal for optimal leaf growth and stem stability.
- It is important to have adequate drainage holes in the base of the pots to prevent root rot caused by excess water, and cilantro should not be planted in heavy clay soils or areas with poor drainage.
Only use a half strength all purpose fertilizer to prevent adding too much nitrogen to the soil, which can lead to weakened stems and cause the plant to fall over. It is best to reduce the use of any fertilizer and instead opt for good quality compost. Fertilizer can result in excessive growth, which lowers the concentration of essential oils in the leaves, thus impacting aroma and flavour.
- To revive a dying cilantro plant, ensure it is placed in direct sunlight and watered regularly (every three days) to maintain moist soil without over-saturating it.
If you trim any tall and spindly leggy growth that exceeds 8 inches in height and create optimal growing conditions for your unbalanced cilantro plant, it should exhibit signs of improvement within a week.
If you need a visual reference for pruning cilantro, this YouTube video can be helpful:
Cilantro Turning Yellow
- Indications. The leaves of the cilantro plant are becoming yellow, and the stems are sagging.
- Reasons. Insufficient sunlight, excessive watering, excessive nitrogen, or inadequate nutrients can be the causes.
If the cilantro has taken on a yellowish or brownish hue, this is usually an indication of distress, which can be caused by inadequate sunlight, excessive watering leading to root rot, or an abundance of nitrogen from fertilizers or a lack of nutrients in the soil.
Cilantro thrives in full sun in cooler regions or morning sun with afternoon shade in hotter climates, but if it receives too much shade, it may grow sparsely and leggy as it searches for more light, causing the leaves to turn yellow.
Yellow leaves can also occur due to excessive watering or poorly draining soil. For cilantro to thrive, the soil should retain moisture while also allowing for proper drainage to prevent root rot from waterlogged roots.
Excessive nitrogen in the soil caused by overconcentration of fertilizer can lead to yellowing and drooping of cilantro plants.
Cilantro can thrive without extra fertilizer if grown in quality soil or potting mix.
On the other hand, if the cilantro is planted in sandy soil, which lacks nutrients, or in a small pot with pot-bound roots, it may experience a shortage of nutrients in the soil, leading to yellowing leaves as an indication of stress.
How to Revive Cilantro with Yellow Leaves
If the leaves of your cilantro plant have turned yellow, don’t worry as you can still bring it back to life by altering the growing conditions.
- To promote growth and enhance the taste and scent of the cilantro, it is crucial to position it in an area that receives ample sunlight, ideally six hours of morning sun; if necessary, relocate the pot or transplant the plant to a sunnier spot.
- For a dying cilantro plant, it is crucial to ensure that the soil has good drainage while also retaining moisture; if the soil is too wet, consider moving the plant to a garden border with better drainage and adding compost to enhance soil structure, or transfer it to a pot with drainage holes to prevent root rot.
- While good soil or compost may not need extra fertilizer for cilantro, it can be beneficial in nutrient-deficient soil; however, if the plant is turning yellow, refrain from using fertilizer temporarily to aid its recuperation.
- If your cilantro is struggling to find the necessary nutrients due to being planted in a small pot or container, consider replanting it in a larger one with fresh potting soil that contains multi-purpose compost and leaf mould. This will provide more nutrients to the roots, allowing the cilantro to recover from yellowing and produce green shoots under favorable weather conditions.
After addressing any environmental factors that may have caused your cilantro to yellow, prune the yellowing leaves and trim the entire plant to a height of no more than 8 inches to encourage fresh growth.
Get rid of the yellow leaves since they have a diminished taste and are not suitable for cooking purposes.
If you manage to replicate the ideal growing environment for cilantro, it will recover and generate fresh green foliage with enhanced taste and scent.
If the cilantro has been in waterlogged soil for an extended period, it becomes challenging to restore, and it is advisable to either sow fresh seeds or purchase a new cilantro plant to grow in a container with fresh soil.
Cilantro Dying After Flowering
Cilantro is an annual herbaceous plant, meaning its purpose is to grow, blossom, and then generate seeds for the following year. After cilantro flowers, the vegetation wilts and the taste of the leaves is not as good as new growth.
Regularly pruning your cilantro is essential to prolonging its lifespan.
By trimming the stems when they grow beyond 8 inches, you can prevent the cilantro plant from producing flowers.
Usually, trimming the cilantro plant every 2-3 weeks during summer helps maintain its productivity and encourages the growth of fresh leaves all year round, until the onset of colder temperatures in fall or winter.
Once the cilantro has bloomed, there is limited action you can take to revive the stem that bears the flowers. However, it is advisable to handle each stem separately, and if one stem has flowered, the others can still be rescued.
To promote new growth and prevent flowering and subsequent dying back, it is advisable to frequently trim the other stems to approximately 8 inches.
- When a cilantro plant is dying, it is usually due to inadequate soil moisture levels caused by infrequent watering, excessive heat and sun exposure, or poor soil quality; as an annual herb, cilantro withers and perishes after blooming.
- If your cilantro plant is dying, you can bring it back to life by ensuring that the soil is always moist and transplanting it to a bigger pot with ample compost if the current container is small. Additionally, pruning the plant when it grows taller than 8 inches will encourage the growth of fresh and flavorful tender leaves.
- Cilantro thrives in full sun, but during heat waves or drought, it may need some shade to avoid wilting.