Last May when I was out watering my front garden, I noticed some big changes to my cilantro. What was a green luscious plant barely a foot tall six weeks before was now reaching two feet tall and sporting delicate clusters of white flowers. It was healthy and pretty and going to seed. But it was also no longer producing more flavorful leaves that I could use in my Tex-Mex tacos. So what did I do?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The flowering of my cilantro was simply nature taking its course. Daytime high temperatures had moved above 90 degrees in my region. When that happens, cilantro is triggered into sending up a flower stalk, producing seeds, and dying.
This is because cilantro is a cool climate herb and I am growing it in a hot climate. This herb will not survive the sustained high heat of a summer in the Southwest. So it does the only thing it can do – set seed for the next generation and die.
When this happens to your cilantro, don’t despair. Your cilantro dying was not a result of bad gardening. Your membership in the Green Thumb Club is still intact.
When cilantro flowers and sets seeds, you’re observing a natural and normal process. Embrace the change. Once the seeds begin to brown, harvest the seed heads and place them in a paper bag.
After a few weeks they will finish drying out and can be saved for a second sowing this September once the late summer temperatures begin to drop below 90 degrees.
Here’s the bottom line – when your cilantro goes to seed in hot weather it’s okay. Don’t stress over what is a normal process in nature.