Edible Landscape Fall Herbs Southwest Gardening

A Second Season of Cilantro

fresh cilantro
Fresh leaves of cilantro provide an important flavor in Southwest foods. Lucky for us, it can be grown in spring and fall.

Cilantro is probably second only to basil as the most popular herb to grow in the Southwest. Every spring there’s a rush at the local nursery of gardeners hungry for young cilantro to plant. We pamper them as the weeks go by, looking forward to all that fresh flavor we’ll be enjoying in burritos, tacos, and every sort of native Southwestern dish.

By May we have lush cilantro leaves to harvest. Then summer hits and the heat moves into high gear. As the thermometer goes up, so does the central flower stalk on our cilantro. Leaf production stops as the annual herb bolts, sets seed, and gets ready to die. This bolting is a source of frustration for southern gardeners. Why can’t they keep their cilantro alive?

coriander seeds
When cilantro nears the end of life the flowers form these tan seeds we call coriander, a popular seasoning in Mediterranean and Southeast Asian foods.

Let me be the first to reassure you that this is not a result of bad gardening. This sad event is normal, even inevitable because cilantro is a cool-season herb that won’t survive triple-digit weather. So what’s a gardener to do?

The answer is simple. Cilantro needs to be treated like a two-season annual. The first season is late February through the start of June. Cilantro produces flavorful leaves during the cooler spring days and then sets seed and dies. By the Fourth of July the remains of the cilantro plant should be pulled up and discarded.

cilantrol plants
With cooling fall temperatures after Labor Day you can plant more cilantro for a second season that will last into November.

But that’s not the end of the story. After Labor Day, gardeners in the Southwest can plant a second crop of this spicy herb. As temperatures cool, these new cilantro plants will grow happily until winter frost ends leaf production.

This second season of cilantro will effectively give you double your annual harvest. You’ll be picking fresh cilantro until well into November. And no more anxiety next year about why your cilantro can’t survive the summer.

As a bonus, you can grow cilantro in a bee-friendly garden. The short-lived flowers produce abundant food for insects.

Ann McCormick, Southwest Gardening contributor

Ann McCormick

If you enjoy herbs and organic gardening, you’ll want to meet Ann McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl. A life-long gardener, she has devoted her time for the last 20 years to writing and speaking about her favorite subject. Ann is a feature writer for The Dallas Morning News and a columnist for Herb Quarterly where she pens the “Herbalist Notebook.” The Herb ‘n Cowgirl also shares her love of herbs and her gardening techniques as a speaker and media guest. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband of 35 years and an assortment of dogs. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at

One reply on “A Second Season of Cilantro”

I use so much cilantro, and while it is super cheap at the grocery store it is so nice to have it outside your kitchen door! I will give it another try and plant it after Labor Day. Wish me luck!

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