Plants want to reproduce themselves and some, like cilantro, produce seeds and die. If you grow herbs it’s best to use them regularly, in doing so you’ll be continually trimming the plant which forces it to focus on leaf production instead of producing flowers and then seed pods. In using your herbs regularly you’ll also keep your plants looking nice, instead of growing leggy they’ll stay full and compact.
In my garden, other herbs that do this are basil, dill and parsley. I don’t have trouble with rosemary, thyme, oregano or sage.
Keep in mind that when you allow your plants to “go to seed” by forming flower heads, you’re providing food for bees. Attracting bees to your garden is a good way to pollinate other plants and boost production.
It sounds like your cilantro plant has run its course. The leaves of the cilantro plant are a favorite in mexican cuisine. I love tossing cilantro on fajitas or a quesadilla. And I really love making fresh salsa with cilantro, there is really nothing like it. But I have noticed that the cilantro growing in a pot on my back porch doesn’t last long.
After a few weeks it starts growing some fernier looking leaves, then they put out white lacy flowers. While I enjoy these flowers, I know that the end is near. I try to prolong my cilantro’s life by nipping in the bud (literally!) and try and pull off the stalks with the fernier leaves before they flower. But they grow fast and usually beat me to it. Once it goes to flower the plant has bolted and that means it will go to seed and then die.
The good news is that cilantro seeds are also a great spice. Many people don’t realize that cilantro is actually a coriander plant. The leaves are the cilantro, and the seeds are the coriander. So when it bolts, it is not a total loss. You should definitely save those seeds and plant some new cilantro plants or use them in your latest culinary creation.
Heat can also play a role in encouraging a plant to bolt quickly. So if you want to get the most out of your cilantro plant, avoid the hot Texas summers and grow cilantro in the fall or winter. Hopefully that will prolong your cilantro a little longer.
And if you really love cilantro, I’ve heard of gardeners sowing cilantro seeds every 2-3 weeks so they continually have a cilantro plant growing. (If only I could think this far ahead…) I usually get a transplant every few months, and do my best to keep it around as long as possible. Either way, I’m pretty sure cilantro is worth the extra effort.
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