Why Does Cilantro Wilt? (5 Reasons and 6 Ways to Fix It!)

Although it is loved by many, cilantro can be quite fussy. Wilting cilantro is one of the most common things gardeners struggle with, but why does it happen so frequently? I have the answers, and I’m happy to share them with you!

Cilantro can wilt due to 1) overcrowding, 2) transplant shock, 3) excessive sun, 4) heat and 5) and inadequate watering. Wilting can be avoided by 1) using adequately sized planters 2) providing enough water 3) planting it in spring and autumn 4) avoiding replanting 5) using fertilizer occasionally and 6) trimming.

Cilantro is said to be an easy plant to grow, but this is quite an exaggeration. While cilantro does germinate easily, it can certainly be more challenging to cultivate compared to other herbs. Here’s an explanation of why cilantro wilts!

1. Overcrowding

Overcrowded cilantro will compete and wilt as a result. Reduce competition and wilting by growing cilantro with sufficient space. Seeds should be planted at least 2 inches apart.

Have you ever seen those potted cilantro plants in the grocery store? They always look so lush and convenient, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’ve seen or purchased them before.

The drawback to these plants, however, is that they’re usually overcrowded. To give the appearance of a bushy plant, it’s common for grocery stores to grow multiple plants in the same pot.

It might look lovely but the roots are likely in turmoil. Growing too many plants in the same pot can cause a myriad of problems and force them to compete for nutrients.

Avoid Overcrowding Cilantro
Avoid Overcrowding Cilantro

When it’s left to grow in these overly cramped environments, the cilantro will eventually wilt and die. The easiest way to fix this is to separate the plants and grow them in different pots.

Grow healthy cilantro by sowing the seeds 2 inches apart. If you prefer a full plant to harvest coriander seeds, space them out at least 6–8 inches to ensure the plant has plenty of space to grow and flower.

2. Transplant Shock

Wilting stems and stunted plant growth can indicate that cilantro is suffering from transplant shock. Because of its sensitive taproots, cilantro does not tolerate being replanted well and will rapidly wilt.

Many fellow gardeners I know have complained about their cilantro wilting after being replanted at one point or another.

Cilantro plants have long and delicate taproots that are very sensitive. It’s common for plants to go through some stress when transplanted but cilantro is known to be one of the fussiest plants.

This is especially the case if you take an indoor plant and try to plant it outdoors.

With their root systems disturbed, the cilantro is left in a very fragile state and will eventually start to wilt and face stunted growth.

3. Excessive Sun

Wilting in cilantro can occur when it receives more than 12 hours of sun exposure daily. Protect cilantro from harsh sun exposure and grow it in partial shade to prevent them from wilting.

Cilantro is known to be a fussy plant. When all you want is some fresh cilantro, this can be bothersome.

While cilantro plants thrive in full sun, this does not mean they should be left in direct sun the entire day. Cilantro can be similar to spinach and is quick to wilt or bolt if it is continuously exposed to 12 or more hours of light.

In my experience, I find it’s easier to rescue a plant that is suffering from too little sun than a plant that is damaged from too much sun.

But if the plant isn’t too damaged, you can still save it!

If you’re growing it in a sunny area, move the cilantro to a shadier position. This plant can grow in just 6 hours of full sun in the morning before resting in the afternoon shade.

4. High Temperatures

Temperatures over 80°F will dehydrate the cilantro and cause its stems and leaves to wilt. Cilantro does not grow well in warm seasons. To help lower the heat and prevent wilting, cover its soil with mulch and grow cilantro in the shade.

Moving on, if there’s too much sun, the temperature is probably too high as well.

As good as it tastes in spicy dishes, cilantro does not like heat. It’s very sensitive and has a relatively low-temperature tolerance, meaning it does not handle inconsistent temperatures very well.

Cilantro Wilts in High Heat
Cilantro Wilts in High Heat

If the average temperatures are consistently above 80°F, the cilantro will droop and wilt. For best results, you want to try to grow cilantro in soil temperatures below 75°F.

Aside from placing the cilantro in some shade, the soil can also be covered with mulch. It will help retain moisture in the soil and the cilantro will be cooler than it would be if its soil were left bare.

5. Overwatering

Overwatered cilantro will turn yellow and wilt if its soil is soggy for long periods. Avoid watering outdoor cilantro after it has rained and ensure the pot’s drainage holes are completely clear.

When it comes to water, cilantro thrives when its soil is kept moist. But just like any other plant, it can still be overwatered.

Plants naturally grow toward the light. Overwatered cilantro plants, however, will become limp and droop until they fall over.

Additionally, the leaves of overwatered cilantro will feel soft and will become a pale yellow.

If your cilantro is outdoors, it’s best to check your local weather reports a week ahead. Try to water it according to the weather. Hold off on watering when it rains.

6 Tips to Prevent Cilantro From Wilting

The 6 methods that can help prevent cilantro from wilting are using the right pot, providing adequate water, planting cilantro in spring and autumn, avoiding replanting, fertilizing sparingly, and trimming it.

Now that you’ve identified the reasons why cilantro might wilt, you’re probably eager to learn how to revive it. Here are some easy tips you can implement to prevent your cilantro from wilting!

1. Use the Right Pot Size

Pots for cilantro must be at least 6 inches deep to accommodate the plant’s sensitive taproot. The container should be wider than it is deep to ensure the cilantro grows healthy foliage and does not wilt.

Another good tip to prevent cilantro from wilting is to make sure to grow them in the proper planter.

Going back to the grocery store cilantro, I notice many are only grown in 4-inch pots. These are way too small for cilantro.

Learn more about this in-depth in the Best Cilantro Planters.

Cilantro isn’t always the easiest plant to care for but it can be grown in standard 6-inch deep pots without an issue. The trick is to make sure it’s wider than it is deep to help the plant spread outwards.

With this, you should have a very lush pot of cilantro!

2. Provide Adequate Water

Prevent cilantro from wilting by only watering it after the top 2 inches of the soil has dried. The soil must never be allowed to fully dry out and must stay damp to help encourage healthy growth.

If you underwatered your cilantro, giving it some extra water is one of the easiest ways to revive it, helping the plant perk back up.

Remember, cilantro flourishes in moist soil and cannot be allowed to dry completely.

As always, though, there must be a balance. You must also avoid overwatering this plant. To provide sufficient water, let the top 2 inches (5.08 cm) of the soil dry out before watering the cilantro again.

By watering cilantro regularly and keeping the soil damp, you’ll be able to grow stronger and healthier cilantro. But be sure to throw out excess water collected in the saucer, as you do not want the plant to sit in water and potentially wilt!

3. Plant Cilantro in Spring or Autumn

Cilantro is a cool-season herb and tends to wilt easily in 80°F. For optimum success, it’s best to grow cilantro in autumn or spring.

Just because cilantro is frequently used in hot dishes does not mean it’ll thrive in matching conditions!

If your cilantro is wilting constantly due to the hot weather regardless of how much tinkering you do, it might be best to grow it in another season. Cilantro grows best in cooler seasons. In other words, it is easier to grow in spring and autumn.

Plant Cilantro in Spring and Autumn
Plant Cilantro in Spring and Autumn

However, this herb can be grown even in the winter, although it’s best to grow them indoors, as it will not survive frosts below 50°F or 10°C.

If you must grow cilantro in the summer, consider using Leisure, Calypso, and Slow-bolt. These varieties do much better in hot environments than other cilantro varieties.

But as always, it’s easier to work with nature than to fight it.

4. Avoid Replanting

Because cilantro can suffer from transplant shock and wilt easily, it’s ideal to plant cilantro in only one pot and avoid disrupting its taproot. Do not replant cilantro unless it is rootbound or suffering from other serious conditions like overcrowding.

The best way to deal with transplant shock in cilantro is to avoid it entirely. As mentioned earlier, there are few to no remedies for cilantro plants suffering from severe transplant shock.

It’s easier to grow cilantro in one space and just never replant it unless it is necessary, like if it becomes pot-bound.

Plus, cilantro has a very short lifespan and tends to bolt quickly. The max amount of time it can live is 8 weeks, but this is rare, and the plant is likely to bolt before then.

With that in mind, there’s no need to worry about it taking up valuable gardening space for long!

Just keep the plant in the correctly sized pot right from the start tp avoid disturbing its sensitive roots.

5. Fertilize Sparingly

Cilantro does not require heavy fertilizer and can thrive without it. Cilantro plants grown in large quantities, however, will benefit from being fed half-strength nitrogen-rich fertilizer and are less likely to wilt.

While cilantro is a picky plant, it’s actually pretty low-maintenance when it comes to fertilizer. Unless your potting soil has gone bad or is old, you probably don’t need to use much fertilizer.

Fertilizer isn’t bad to use, but it can be harmful to the plant if applied in large amounts.

Cilantro plants from the supermarket are also commonly loaded with fertilizer to encourage rapid growth, so resist the urge to feed it, as it will over-fertilize the plant.

If you’re planting large amounts of cilantro, it might be necessary to give them a light dose of fertilizer.

More specifically, you need to use nitrogen-rich fertilizer at half-strength to prevent burning the cilantro roots with excessive fertilizer.

Learn more about fertilizer for cilantro.

6. Trimming

Soft and wilted cilantro can be trimmed to promote new growth. Unless the plant is suffering from other factors, this will alleviate the wilting.

An easy and almost instant way to help revive a wilting cilantro plant is to simply give it a quick trim.

Cilantro plants over 6 inches can be harvested entirely, but you can just cut the oldest leaves that are wilting the most. After making these cuts, the plant should form new growth and grow back upright.

Multiple people like to snip cilantro plants directly and have no worries about doing so.

To make sure the cilantro grows back, only cut off the side stems. Leave stems with new growth alone to ensure the plant produces more foliage.

How to Harvest Cilantro- Cut and Come Again Cilantro

These cuts will encourage the plant to grow new leaves and shoots and leave you with extra cilantro to cook with!

Why is Your Cilantro Wilting in the Fridge?

Cilantro leaves that are old and kept moist are likely to wilt and spoil in the fridge. Wrap cilantro in a paper towel before storing it in a sealed zip-lock bag so it stays dry. Unbruised dry cilantro can last for 3 weeks in the fridge.

One of the main reasons why cilantro wilts are in the refrigerator is because it is too damp. Overly damp cilantro is much more prone to wilt than when it is stored dry.

To properly store cilantro and help it last longer, always be sure to buy them as fresh as possible and dry off the herb with a paper towel.

Aside from better flavor, this freshness is key in storing cilantro. Unless you’ve grown it yourself, it’s hard to say how long the cilantro was in the store or the package.

You might see some yellow or wilted leaves because of this. Remove any wet or yellow herbs you find, as this could cause the rest of the cilantro to wilt.

After the cilantro dries, wrap it in a paper towel and keep it in a closed plastic bag or zip-lock. Try to avoid bruising it as much as possible, as this will quickly lead to it wilting and spoiling.

By following this method, you should have tasty dried cilantro to enjoy for weeks without worrying about wilting!

Is Wilted Cilantro Safe to Eat?

Wilted cilantro can still be used and is safe to eat. To rejuvenate wilted cilantro leaves, soak them for 30 mins in ice water. Slimy cilantro leaves, however, should not be eaten and must be discarded.

It may not be the prettiest thing to look at but it is still safe to eat wilted cilantro leaves. It will be softer in texture but is otherwise not harmful to consume.

Cilantro is great in all sorts of dishes and can still be used even if it’s wilted!

Wilted cilantro leaves can be placed in ice water for 30 minutes to help rejuvenate them and make them firm again. But spoiled or slimy leaves are best placed in the bin.

FAQs

What are the signs that cilantro leaves are wilting?

Drooping, falling, and limpness of leaves are all signs that the cilantro is wilting. Cilantro stems usually grow upright. It can grow up to 6 inches tall and does not wilt unless it is suffering from intense heat, overwatering, and overcrowding.

Why is my cilantro plant curling?

Curling cilantro leaves are common if the plant is in too much sun or is suffering from pests like spider mites. Cilantro leaves that are curling will not uncurl and will not return to normal. It is safe to eat cilantro that has been attacked by spider mites and it will not cause any sickness.

Summary of Why Does Cilantro Wilt

Cilantro can be a challenging herb to cultivate and will easily wilt as a response to overcrowding, transplant shock, excessive amounts of sun, temperatures over 80°F, and overwatering.

Because cilantro has sensitive root systems, it is best to avoid transplanting cilantro and using large amounts of fertilizer. To further reduce the chances of wilting, grow it in a pot that is at least 6-inches deep, provide sufficient water, and trim wilted leaves. Cilantro is best grown in spring and autumn and is less likely to wilt during these seasons.

Sources

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