Why is My Cilantro not Growing?

Growing Cilantro in your home garden is always a great idea as it is easy to grow and has a wide range of uses. From salads to sandwiches to even stir fry, cilantro can give any mundane dish a much needed boost of flavor. However, despite the simplicity of growing cilantro, there can be instances where your cilantro plants will just outright refuse to grow.

So why won’t your cilantro grow? Cilantro will not grow if there is too much heat, too much or too little water, improper planting and care or any combination of these variables. Any one of these factors can inhibit growth resulting in seeds that won’t germinate or cilantro that bolts and produces very few leaves.

 To determine what exactly is preventing your cilantro from growing, you will need to figure out what its getting too much or too little of. Like all other plants, cilantro needs sun, soil and water, but too much or too little of any of these will inhibit its growth.

Improper Planting:

The most likely reason your cilantro is not growing is that it simply hasn’t been planted properly. Cilantro is not a difficult plant to grow however, there are some simple mistakes any gardener can make when starting cilantro that will prevent it from growing.

One of the most common mistakes people make when planting their cilantro is sowing the seeds too deep. Cilantro seeds should be planted no more than a half inch deep. If they are planted too deep, they will not grow and you will have to replant if you wish to harvest fresh cilantro in the coming months. After sowing your seeds, cover them with a light sprinkle of loose, well drained soil. With a little bit of water and a few weeks time, your cilantro will sprout.

Another common mistake when planting cilantro is improper spacing. Sow cilantro seeds 2 inches apart. When your cilantro begins to sprout, thin the plants to 4 inches apart to allow for more growing space. Cilantro produces a lot of foliage so important to ensure there’s adequate spacing between each plant. Overcrowding can result in slowed growth of cilantro as well as it becoming susceptible to various types of diseases due to a lack of air circulation.


Cilantro sprouting up from the soil

The germination and growth of your cilantro is highly dependent of the amount of water it receives.

Failing to give your cilantro enough water will result in no germination and therefore no growth. But on the other hand, too much water can stunt plant growth and even kill the cilantro plant in some cases. Therefore, you must find that goldilocks zone of not too much water and not too little water.

So how do you determine how much water to give your cilantro? You can determine if your cilantro is getting sufficient water by checking the moisture of the surrounding soil. The soil should be well drained; moist to the touch, but not sopping wet.

It can be difficult to sustain a consistent moisture level among your cilantro plants, but there are a few tricks you can implement to do so. The first one is to place a dish underneath the container or pot you are growing your cilantro in and fill the dish with water. Assuming there are drainage holes on the bottom of your pot or container, the roots of the cilantro will be able to soak up moisture from the bottom up ensuring even the deepest roots are obtaining water.


One of the most common mistakes when growing cilantro is exposing them too much heat.

Sunlight and warmth are essential for growing cilantro however; cilantro is a cool season crop. Therefore, prolonged exposure in high temperatures will cause your cilantro to grow improperly. The heat will cause the cilantro to shoot upwards and flower and also produce very few cilantro leaves. This is referred to as “bolting”.

To prevent your cilantro from bolting, you will need to limit the amount of heat and sunlight the plant receives.

There are a number of ways this can be done however; one of the easiest ways to do this is to simply sow your cilantro seeds at an earlier date. Starting your cilantro earlier in the season will allow it more time to grow without the risk of bolting. If frost is a concern, you can always start your cilantro indoors and move it outside at a later date.

If you have already planted your cilantro, there are still some ways you can prevent it from bolting. One easy way to prevent bolting is to give your cilantro some shade. Shading your cilantro plants will help keep the plant cool and in turn, decrease the chance of bolting.

Another easy way to cool down your cilantro plants is to add mulch to the surrounding soil. Not only will this help prevent weeds, but it will also help keep the soil cool and therefore limit the chance of your cilantro bolting. Simply place some hay or mulch around the base of the plant and the chances of bolting will be drastically lower!

Related Questions:

Why is my cilantro yellow? Cilantro turning yellow is a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients. To restore your cilantro, allow it at least six hours of full sunlight each day. In addition, feed your plant a balanced fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.


Why is my cilantro flowering? Cilantro will begin to flower in hot weather as survival mechanism to produce the seeds for the next generation.  This known as “bolting”. If this occurs to your cilantro, it will lose much of its flavor rendering it tasteless. You can however, save the seeds as they can be used as coriander.

To prevent your cilantro flowering, try moving it to a shaded area to help keep the plant cool. Another solution is to place mulch or hay around the base of the plant to help keep the soil cool in warmer days.


Why is my cilantro wilting? Wilted cilantro is almost always a result of improper watering. Too much water will cause the thin stems of cilantro to wilt, compromising the plant’s structure. To avoid this, make sure to plant your cilantro in well drained soil. Ideally, the soil should be kept moist, but shouldn’t allow puddles of water to form as the plants will drown for lack of oxygen.

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