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Cilantro Leaves Turning Yellow? (4 Reasons+Solutions)

Cilantro, a plant some of you may know as coriander, is one of the most popular and widely used plants in the world.

It’s hardly surprising, as this herb is a staple in many kitchens and one of the favorite additions to various dishes in cuisines across the globe.

Plus, it has many health benefits and can freshen up any garden or other space you decide to grow it in.

If you’ve ever grown cilantro by yourself instead of purchasing it in the store, then you know that it’s rather easy to care for and maintain and doesn’t require much effort.

Still, some attention is needed to prevent certain issues that this plant may struggle with.

One of the most common problems you may notice is cilantro leaves turning yellow.

Below, I’ll explain why this happens to cilantro leaves and what to do when it does.

So, let’s dive in!

Why are My Cilantro Leaves Turning Yellow?

Cilantro with slightly yellow leaves.

While this is not an issue that may kill your cilantro, it impacts the plant and makes the leaves less useful in the kitchen as they lose their freshness and spiciness.

Yellow leaves are typically one of the ways the plant is telling us that it’s stressed and that stress can occur for various reasons.

Learning about what may cause the cilantro leaves to turn yellow is essential because when you know the issue, you can easily deal with it.

Furthermore, if you allow whatever is going on to continue, then the problem can become more serious and severely damage the plant.

The most likely reasons why cilantro leaves change their color to yellow are improper watering, nutrient deficiency, pest infestations, and lack of light and heat.

I’ll provide a more detailed explanation of each of these and share a few tips on how to solve them.

Lack of Sunlight

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While cilantro is not among the plants that enjoy too much sunlight, keeping it in the shade and away from the sun can also be damaging.

If cilantro is not getting enough sunlight, its leaves will start to lose color, first turning into pale green and then yellow.

Plus, they will likely become wilted.

As leaves in this condition can’t perform their basic functions properly, this will also result in the stunted growth of the entire plant.

If possible, try to provide your cilantro with around six hours of sun every day.

Indoor plants should be placed next to the south-facing window to make the most of the afternoon sun.

If you grow cilantro in a garden, look to plant it at a spot where it will get decent exposure to sunlight and, if necessary, trim the surrounding tree branches, thick foliage, or shrubs that are blocking the sun.

Improper Watering

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Cilantro leaves can also turn yellow if the plant is getting too much or too little water.

Yellow leaves on the cilantro are often the reason that the soil is waterlogged and that, due to overwatering, the roots are not getting enough oxygen.

Of course, this affects the functioning of the entire plant and, commonly, leads to chlorosis.

However, chlorosis which causes leaves to turn yellow can also occur due to dehydration of the plant when you’ve been underwatering the soil.

The key is to strike the right balance and provide the cilantro with the right amount of water.

The damp and wet top layer of soil tells you that you’ve been adding too much water, while the dry deeper soils indicate underwatering.

Cilantro should be watered moderately, but regularly, about once a week.

When the plant is reacting negatively to the watering schedule, make sure to adjust it accordingly.

Nutrient Deficiency

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Another potential reason that can cause the cilantro leaves to change their color and turn yellow is if they’re planted in soil that is poor with nutrients.

Besides leaf discoloration, the lack of nutrients will also significantly slow down the plant’s growth.

Note that, depending on what particular nutrient is missing, the leaves may change their color in different ways and in different spots.

Knowing this can help you identify which nutrient is lacking so you can adjust your fertilizing routine.

The lack of nitrogen will cause older leaves to turn yellow quickly, while the newer shoots will soon follow.

In the case of iron deficiency, older leaves will remain green, while the younger ones will change their color to yellow, with notable green veins.

When magnesium is lacking, only the leaves on the lower part of the plant will turn yellow around the edges, while the veins remain green.

Pest Infestations and Diseases

Cilantro is a rather hardy plant and its strong smell typically repels most pests.

However, there’s still a risk of pest infestation and certain diseases, some of which cause cilantro’s leaves to turn yellow.

Below are a couple of the most common causes from this category that can make cilantro leaves go yellow.


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Aphids are one of the most common pests attacking garden plants, and cilantro is no exception.

When they infest a plant, aphids use their mouthparts to feed on the sap from the leaves, leaving them looking lifeless and often turning to yellow.

You can identify them as culprits, by the sticky substance they leave on the bottom part of the leaf.

You can try to get rid of these insects by rubbing the leaves with soap water or using natural pesticides, such as neem oil.

If this doesn’t work you can try attracting predatory insects, such as ladybugs or lace wigs.

Carrot Motley Dwarf Disease

Carrot Motley Dwarf disease is one of the most common problems you can have when growing cilantro.

It’s caused by a combination of viruses and the infected plant may have its leaves change color to yellow, pink, or red.

The best prevention is to keep your plants clean and regularly remove the weeds.

Also, the above mentions aphids are known to help spread this infection, so getting rid of them will decrease the risk of Carrot Motley Dwarf disease.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot disease is another very common infection of cilantro and other plants, and also one of the potential causes for leaves going yellow.

When the plant is infected with a leaf spot, its leaves will look pale with occasional yellow spots across their surface.

The plant typically gets a leaf spot when the seeds are already infected or the disease is carried through pollination.

The infected plant should be immediately removed and isolated to stop the further spread of the infection.

Also, make sure to use only high-quality seeds that you got from a trusted and reputable source.


Cilantro is a great plant to have around, very useful both in the kitchen and for its health benefits.

However, to make full use of the cilantro you’re growing it has to be healthy.

So, it’s important to take proper care of it and watch out for anything that may signal that there’s something wrong with your cilantro.

Diligent monitoring will help you notice these signs early and prevent more significant damage to the plant.

One of these warning signs is the discoloration of the leaves and the angle of their color to yellow.

This may indicate that your cilantro is suffering from lack of sunlight, incorrect watering, nutrient deficiency, or that it has been infected or infested.

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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