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How to Harvest Cilantro Without Killing the Plant – 2 Methods!

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Cilantro is one of the most popular herbs in almost every cuisine worldwide. This herb is consumed fresh or even dried and can be used to garnish the food to add a refreshing taste.

Cilantro is also commonly known as coriander and Chinese parsley. Growing cilantro is simple, but mistakes can be made while harvesting it. Follow our amazing guide if you want to learn how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant.

Depending upon your needs, you can either harvest small quantities of cilantro for instant use or harvest cilantro in large quantities and store it.

Harvesting the cilantro in a small amount is relatively easy and does not harm the plant.

However, harvesting large quantities requires proper ways and care for the plant. We are here to teach you both methods on how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant.

Fresh and raw coriander leaves—how to harvest Cilantro without killing the plant
How to harvest cilantro without killing the plant? — Image via Tomasz Olszewski.

How to Harvest Cilantro Without Killing the Plant?

It is best to harvest cilantro 4 to 6 weeks after the first growth. There are two methods on how you can harvest your cilantro.

  • Harvesting in small-batch means collecting a very small amount of plant, usually a few leaves, to be freshly used.
  • Harvesting in large batches means harvesting the cilantro plant in larger quantities that you can store for later use.

Either way, it is essential to learn how to harvest your cilantro properly, so you don’t damage the plant. We will discuss each method with detailed instructions on how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant.

Method 1: Harvesting Cilantro in Small Batches

The following guide will help you learn how to harvest the plant in small batches.

Step 1: Pick a Calculated Amount

You do not want to waste the fresh leaves when harvesting in small batches.

So, the best approach is to take only enough parts of the plant required for the recipe. Instead of pulling out a whole plant, try cutting only a few leaves or stems from the mature plants.

Step 2: Select the Leaves On Outer Sides

The leaves growing on the outer sides of the plant are more desirable for cooking because they have the best taste.

Old leaves can develop a bitter taste, which makes them unsuitable for cooking.

Furthermore, the outer leaves will encourage the growth of the plant and will prevent it from dying.

Step 3: Use Sharp Scissors

While harvesting a small batch, you might be tempted to Pluck or Pull Out some leaves or stems from the cilantro plant, but DON’T! It can damage the plant or stems, affecting the growth and even killing it.

  • Always use sterilized and sharp knives or scissors to cut the leaves.
  • You can pinch a few leaves only if you do so carefully.
  • Hold the plant’s stem with one hand and pinch the leaves above the nodes. It will prevent damaging the plant.

Step 4: Remove the Older Leaves and Stems

You can pick the most suitable leaves to cook and attain the best possible taste.

But after plucking those leaves, you also need to cut the older leaves and stems to allow fresh leaves to grow.

It is the most effective approach to keep the plant thriving and get rid of old leaves and stems as they are not very useful due to their bitter taste.

Always be very careful and delicate while handling the plant, and even though you are getting rid of older leaves and stems, you still need to leave one-third of the plant behind.

A person holding a basket filled with coriander
How to harvest cilantro without killing the plant? You must be delicate while plucking leaves from your coriander plant—Image via Tima Miroshnichenko.

Method 2: Harvesting Cilantro in Large Batches

The following steps will help you learn how to harvest cilantro in large batches without killing the plant.

Step 1: Choose the Right Time to Harvest

While harvesting cilantro, choose the colder winter season to harvest the leaves as the plant grows actively during this season.

Cilantro plants bloom and produce during the summer, producing seeds. You can also consume the seeds, but they have fewer applications in the culinary world than the leaves.

Harvesting the leaves in the colder months will allow the plant to grow well and increase the volume and growth of the cilantro leaves.

Step 2: Examining the Plant

Examining the plant means observing and ensuring that the plant is mature and healthy to be harvested.

  • Ensure the plant is tall enough and the stems have developed properly.
  • Unless the stems are developed, they will not have the strength to survive harvesting and may be unable to reproduce new leaves.

Step 3: Avoid Harvesting the Whole Plant

Wanna know how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant? When you are harvesting, do not cut the whole plant. Instead, leave one-third of the plant untouched.

It will allow the plant to regrow again and produce more harvests throughout the season.

Step 4: Use Sharp Scissors

Cutting the cilantro using sharp knives or scissors is crucial because blunt blades can damage the stems and expose them to the environmental diseases.

  • Sterilize your scissors before using them.
  • Do not cut all the stems all at once.
  • Trace each stem individually and cut them from the base, leaving one-third part behind.

When to Harvest Cilantro?

Harvesting cilantro entirely depends on how much quantity you need. You can pinch a few leaves or harvest them in large quantities.

Follow the tips below to learn the right time to harvest your cilantro:

  • After planting the seeds, it takes almost 4 weeks for the cilantro plants to grow tall enough to be harvested.
  • Let your plants reach a height of at least 6 to 8 inches before harvesting them.
  • If you harvest correctly, you can obtain many harvests during the whole four months season of growth.
  • The cilantro plant must be harvested every time before it reaches the point of bearing flowers.

You can tell when the cilantro is ready to produce flowers when you notice the leaves are getting taller and narrower, resembling the carrot leaves.

  • When the plant reaches this stage, you can harvest it before the leaves change their refreshing earthy taste.
  • You can also let it flower, producing seeds that you can harvest. These seeds may fall in the soil and self-grow new plants ready to be harvested once grown.
Coriander seeds—how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant?
How to harvest cilantro without killing the plant? You can use coriander seeds to grow new and healthy plants—Image via Mockupo.

Storing the Cilantro leaves

After harvesting the cilantro, there are several ways in which you can use it, store it, and preserve it for later use.

  • You can use fresh cilantro leaves right after harvesting to add a refreshing taste to your dishes or garnish them.
  • You can also preserve the cilantro leaves by freezing them. It will preserve their freshness for longer and can be used for various months.
  • Another method is to dry the leaves and store them in air-tight jars.

Related Article: How to Plant Cilantro | A Step-by-Step Guide


Cilantro is one of the most popular and most extensively used herbs in many cuisines because of its refreshing and delectable taste.

Growing your own cilantro provides you with fresh herbs all year round, and you can also store it for later use.

With our helpful article, you have learned how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant, so your plant keeps growing and thriving, resulting in more harvests. We would love to hear your feedback in the comments below!