Flowering Cilantro – Why It Happens and What You Can Do

If a vegetable or herb begins to bloom, it usually means that the leaves and stems are no longer suitable for consumption. They will develop a bitter flavor and tough texture. The same rule applies to cilantro, as this means it is bolting and should be avoided.

What do you do when cilantro flowers? When cilantro flowers, there’s nothing you can do to stop the bolting. The white flowers will become pollinated and eventually fade. This is followed by the development of seeds. The only logical thing to do is to let the seeds develop and then you can harvest them for next year’s planting. 

Read more to find out why cilantro flowers and how to delay this process as long as you can.

Why Cilantro Flowers

Flowering or bolting is a natural phase in cilantro’s life cycle. It’s the process by which the plant develops seeds. However, when the herb flowers, that usually means that you can no longer use the leaves or stems. The leaves lose their fragrance and might get a little bitter as well. 

When Does Cilantro Flower?

Late spring and early summer are usually the times when cilantro flowers. The weather is the decisive factor in getting those white cilantro flowers to open up. As the temperature rises and stays high for a few days, that signals the advent of summer and signals the plant to start blooming.

What Triggers Flowering in Cilantro?

Heat is the main trigger for flowering in cilantro. Cilantro is a cool-season herb, and when summer arrives, the plant knows that it will not survive. This triggers the production of flowers as a survival mechanism where the plant tries to produce seeds before it reaches the end of its life. 

Life Cycle of Cilantro

As an annual, cilantro has a short life cycle. This is usually between 6 and 7 weeks. Your best bet is to plant the herb in the early spring so that it will grow in the cool months before the weather gets warm in the late spring or early summer. 

Does Cilantro Die After Flowering?

After the flowers are pollinated and seeds develop, cilantro will usually die. You can use the seeds for culinary uses or to start new plants next spring. 

Will Cilantro Grow Back After Bolting?

No. Bolting means that the herb is focusing its resources on developing flowers and seeds. Once it flowers, the plant will stop growing new leaves and stems. The leaves you harvest after bolting will not be replaced with new leaves and are not nearly as tasty as before bolting. 

Cilantro Flower Appearance

Cilantro flowers have a unique shape. They’re usually white or pale pink with long petals that grow on one side of the flower. The center of the flower is made up of smaller versions of the petals that are usually pinkish. The long petals are actually quite small and won’t exceed a quarter of an inch. The flowers grow in clusters called umbels.

Are Cilantro Flowers Poisonous?

No part of cilantro is poisonous, not even the flowers. You can safely consume them without having any side effects or impact on your health. The same applies to pets. 

Are Cilantro Flowers Edible?

Every part of the cilantro plant is edible including the leaves, stems, and flowers. You can use the flowers as a salad garnish or even eat them plain. They might not have much taste but neither do the leaves at this stage of the herb’s development.

Do Cilantro Flowers Turn Into Seeds?

The purpose of growing flowers is for the cilantro herb to develop seeds before it dies by the end of the season. The flowers need to be pollinated first. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies will do this job. Once pollinated, the flowers will fade as seeds develop in the heart of the fading flowers. 

Cilantro Seeds

The tiny cilantro flowers produce fruits. These fruits are actually the seeds of the herb and are called schizocarps. They’re small and average one-eighth of an inch. The seeds are green until they mature and turn light brown. Each schizocarp has two seeds stuck together. You can split it and plant each seed separately. 

You’ll need to wait for the seeds to dry on the plant before harvesting them. Harvest time is usually in the middle of summer. After harvesting the seeds, spread them on a paper towel, and keep them in a cool and dry place to dry out. Then put them in a sealed jar, and label them.

Can You Stop Cilantro From Flowering?

Flowering is a natural phase of the cilantro’s life cycle. There’s no stopping the herb from flowering since that’s the whole purpose of its life. However, you can delay the flowering of cilantro by keeping it in cool temperatures and protecting it from the hot afternoon sun.

Should You Cut Cilantro Before It Flowers?

If you don’t want cilantro seeds, then you should cut down the herb before it flowers. Once it flowers, the leaves will lose their distinctive fragrance and taste, and the plant will stop growing new leaves to replace the ones you harvest. Cutting down cilantro right before floweringfrees up the area to grow new plants.

Can You Use Cilantro After It Flowers?

The only use for cilantro after flowering is to garnish your smoothies and juices with the white flowers. As for the leaves, they become milder and milder and lose their flavor. You can still keep the plant to harvest its seeds, however.

What To Do After Cilantro Flowers

When cilantro flowers, there’s little you can do with the herb. You can either uproot it and plant new crops, or let it continue its natural life cycle to produce seeds, which are known as coriander and make an excellent flavoring to a wide variety of dishes. 

How To Trim Cilantro Plant After It Flowers

After cilantro flowers, you can trim the leaves before they lose their flavor. Pick the small and young flowers at the top of the stems since they still maintain their fragrance. The mature leaves near the stems are usually tasteless after flowering. If you’d like to keep the plant for its seeds, don’t harvest more than one-third of the leaves since the plant needs the leaves to photosynthesize the light, and it won’t replace lost leaves with new ones. 

How To Get Seeds From Cilantro Flowers

The seeds are green when they’re young, but they will turn light brown when they mature. Wait for them to dry on the plant, and then collect the seed stalks. Spread a clean sheet, and shake the stalks to free the seeds. Keep the seeds in a dry and well-ventilated place for a few days so that they dry out. Then put them in a sealed container, and store them in a dry place. 

How Do You Trim Cilantro So It Keeps Growing?

In the spring as soon as the plant reaches 6 inches high, you can start harvesting the leaves. Regular harvesting promotes bushier foliage. Pinch off the tips of the stems to encourage the herb to develop fuller foliage. Pruning keeps the plant busy developing new stems to replace the ones you trimmed and delays flowering. 

Benefits of Allowing Cilantro To Flower

When cilantro flowers, it stops growing and doesn’t develop any new leaves. However, that’s not the end of the story for this herb. Even if the leaves are no longer fragrant, cilantro still plays a role in your garden. Here are some of the benefits of allowing the herb to flower:

  • The flowers attract pollinators to your garden.
  • Some good bugs, such as hoverflies, are attracted to the cilantro flowers. These bugs feed on pests and control their numbers.
  • The flowers of cilantro are edible and can be used to garnish desserts and drinks.
  • The dry seeds of cilantro are packed with flavors. You can use them in your cooking throughout the year when fresh cilantro leaves are out of season.

Best Time To Plant Cilantro To Delay Flowering

You should plant cilantro seeds as early as you can to allow the herb to grow and develop in the cool spring months. Start the seeds in the garden once the threat of the last frost is over. You can also start them indoors and transplant them to the garden once the soil is workable. 

Conclusion

When cilantro flowers, the leaves lose their flavor and fragrance as the plant focuses its energy on developing flowers and seeds. You can delay the flowering phase by regularly harvesting the leaves and pinching off the tips of the base stems. The flowering cilantro will develop seeds that you can harvest and use in cooking or store for the next season.