Plant bolting frequently occurs when vegetables start to flower and set seed prematurely in a bid to survive during stressful conditions. This process can lower the chances of a massive harvest. Here is everything you should know about plant bolting and how to prevent it.
What is Plant Bolting
Also referred to as “going to seed,” bolting takes place when a plant grows prematurely and starts to seed. During bolting, a vegetable plant will suddenly experience flower stalk growth, which is then followed by seed formation. When this occurs, it hinders the desired vegetable growth.
Basically, the plant’s energy is diverted from the plants and roots to produce a flower stem and seeds. Bolting can be prompted by cold spells and by changes in the day length. Other common causes include high soil temperatures caused by hot weather or root stress that occurs when the root system is disturbed.
Problems Caused by Plant Bolting
Although bolting is perfectly natural, it can be frustrating for gardeners when plants set seeds before the harvest.
A common issue with bolting is that it produces, small, thin, and tough leaves. What’s more, a vegetable that bolts will produce bitter leaves that may be inedible. In the case of cabbage, the head will split open to give way to the flower. This will also be the case in bolting broccoli or cauliflower.
Nonetheless, bolting can be advantageous if you want to save seeds. Additionally, the flowers of bolted plants can attract pollinators like bees to your garden.
Ways to Prevent Plant Bolting
Plant Bolt-Resistant Seeds
Slow bolting or bolt-resistant seeds can withstand high temperatures and are unlikely to bolt.
A variety of bolt-resistant and cold-season plants with superior resistance to bolting and heat. For instance, plants that are more tolerant to heat like Joi Choi are slow to bolt and can be grown in warm weather going to winter.
A shade will shield your cold-season plants from direct sunshine during summer. A natural way to shield your crops is by planting them close to taller crops like corn. Alternatively, you can use a lightweight shade cloth to block direct sunlight.
Ensure Soil Health
Make sure you grow in healthy soil with adequate nutrients and moisture levels to promote faster growth. This is particularly important when planting in hotter climates.
Utilize Season Extenders
Season extenders allow a longer window for your spring gardening. Hence, your crops will increase in size before the heatwave.
Use the Right Fertilizer
Use a fertilizer that promotes leaves and stems growth rather than one that benefits flower growth.