Cilantro Leaves Turning Red? (3 Reasons+Solutions)

Cilantro is a plant of many uses.

It adds life and fragrance to your herbal garden, but it’s mainly grown to provide fresh taste to many different dishes and for this health benefits.

So, most of us have at least some cilantro in our houses, whether it came from the store or grown in a garden or a pot.

Cilantro can grow both indoors and outdoors and growing it is fairly simple, although not without challenges.

One of the potential issues when growing cilantro is that you may notice its leaves changing color and turning red.

This can be a bit confusing for less experienced gardeners and pose a problem as they’re not sure how to react.

To help out, I’ll explain the reasons for cilantro leaves turning red and share a few tips on what to do when that happens.

So, let’s dive in!

Why are My Cilantro Leaves Turning Red?

Growing Cilantro.

Every change in the appearance of your plant, even though it may not be caused by a serious issue, is still a reason for concern.

Learning what issues may cause these changes will help you identify the cause and react on time, saving your plant before it’s too late.

If you notice that the leaves of your cilantro are changing color and turning red, you shouldn’t panic, as none of the potential causes is something that can’t be remedied.

Still, these situations require your attention and certain adjustment in the way you care for your plant, so it can get healthy and thrive again.

The three most likely causes of this problem are improper watering, issues with lightning and temperature, and the lack of much-needed nutrients.

I’ll go into more detail about each of these and explain how to make these problems go away.

Improper Watering

One of the most common reasons why the leaves of your cilantro plant may turn red is improper watering.

Just like with any other plant, moisture imbalance can hinder the development and healthy growth of your cilantro.

The first sign that cilantro is not getting an optimal amount of water is the leaves’ discoloration.

In general, cilantro loves being kept moist, but not too wet. So, the soil shouldn’t be dry, and you should aim to keep it moist at almost all times.

However, you should be careful not to overdo it as overwatering and soil that’s too damp can cause different problems, mainly root rot.

This will significantly stress the plant and cause its leaves to change their color into various shades of red.

What to Do?

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To avoid this issue, you should water your cilantro regularly, but moderately. Only add water when the top level of the soil is dry when you touch it.

This will ensure that you avoid overwatering and waterlogging the soil. In general, most cilantro plants will do just fine if they’re being watered once a week.

If your cilantro is planted in a container, make sure that it has good drainage and allows the runoff of the excess water.

If the leaves have already turned red, make sure to check the roots for rot. If they’re brown and mushy, then you probably have an overwatering problem.

The best way to deal with this is to trim the affected roots, replant the cilantro in fresh and dry soil, and pay more attention in the future to the amount of water you’re adding.

Lack of Sunlight

Cilantro leaves can also turn red if the plant is not getting an optimal amount of sunlight.

Of course, proper lighting is an essential component of healthy development for any plant and cilantro is no different.

Cilantro generally enjoys less direct sunlight and fairly moderate conditions when it comes to temperature.

However, this doesn’t mean that it should constantly be kept away from the sun.

Look to find a spot for your cilantro where it can get about six hours of indirect sunlight every day.

Otherwise, you may start to notice some negative changes.

Lack of sunlight is one of the main reasons why its leaves may turn their color to red. The lack of sunlight is, of course, tied to the temperature in the environment.

Cilantro doesn’t do too well in cold conditions and low temperatures may cause stress resulting in leaves discoloration.

What to Do?

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The solution to these problems is fairly simple. Just find the place for your cilantro where it can get enough heat and sunlight.

If you grow cilantro inside the house, look to place it against the south-facing window, so it can enjoy as much sun as possible.

However, providing an optimal amount of light and heat may be more challenging during winter, when it’s freezing outside.

The best way to deal with this is to use fluorescent bulbs or [amazon link=”B077ZSQRW5″ title=”grow lights” link_icon=”amazon” /].

They should be set up around several inches above the cilantro and turned on for 10 to 16 hours a day, depending on the temperature.

Lack of Nutrients

The third potential reason why the leaves of your cilantro may change their color and turn red is the lack of nutrition.

To thrive and grow, your cilantro needs a steady supply of various nutrients and in case it doesn’t get it, its leaves may turn red or pink.

This is simply their way of manifesting stress caused by not having enough nutrients in their system. Nevertheless, adjusting the level of nutrients you provide to your cilantro can be challenging.

It’s often only after the plant starts showing signs of stress that you become aware of this issue. Besides, you’ll need to know exactly what type of nutrients is lacking.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to test the soil the cilantro is planted in to see what type of fertilizer is the best solution.

What to Do?

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The simplest solution to the lack of nutrients is to add some more.

However, it’s important to get this right and add the proper amount of fertilizers as too much of it can also seriously damage your plant and cause the root to burn, among other problems.

In most cases, it’s best that you use a [amazon link=”B07L918M91″ title=”balanced fertilizer” link_icon=”amazon” /] and add moderate amounts every couple of weeks.

You can also provide extra nutrients by adding compost or manure.

When adding fertilizer, make sure not to get any of it on the leaves, as it will damage them, defeating the original purpose of fertilizing.

If you’re not sure about the type or amount of fertilizer needed, it’s always a good idea to look for help from an expert or more experienced gardener.


Every change in cilantro’s appearance should be carefully monitored as they’re commonly the signs of stress the plant is suffering for various reasons.

So, if you notice that the leaves of your cilantro are turning red, take it seriously and try to figure out what the problem is.

Typically, this will happen due to overwatering, too much sunlight, or lack of nutrients you provide to your plant.

Luckily, all these issues are fairly easy to deal with and it should only take a small adjustment in your maintenance routine to deal with them and help your plant thrive again.

Still, it’s important to notice them and react on time, so you can prevent more serious damage to your cilantro.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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