How to Keep Plants from Bolting in the Garden

In the Garden Sue Jul 16, 2023
81 People Read
plants going to seed

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. As an Amazon Associate I may earn on qualifying purchases.  

One of the challenges that gardeners face is the premature bolting of plants, which leads to the production of seeds, negatively affects the quality of edible crops and makes them taste bitter. Bolting occurs when plants prematurely shift their energy from leafy growth to flowering and seed production. However, with a few simple techniques, you can minimize bolting and ensure a longer harvest season. In this blog, we'll explore six easy ways to slow bolting and keep your garden thriving, but first we should cover the why plants bolt early and some of the benefits of bolting.

bolting of basil

Why Plants Bolt:

- Temperature Fluctuations: Sudden changes in temperature, especially a shift from cooler to warmer conditions, can trigger plants to bolt.

- Day Length: Some plants, such as spinach and cilantro, are sensitive to day length. When the days become longer, it signals to the plants that it's time to start flowering and producing seeds.

- Maturity: As plants reach maturity, they naturally shift their energy toward reproduction, resulting in bolting and seed production.

- Stress: Environmental stressors like drought, inadequate nutrients, or pest damage can cause plants to bolt as a survival mechanism.

Benefits of Plants Bolting:

- Seed Production: Bolting allows plants to produce seeds for future generations, ensuring the survival and propagation of the species.

- Genetic Diversity: When plants bolt and cross-pollination occurs, it promotes genetic diversity, which is essential for plant adaptation and evolution.

- Edible Flowers and Seeds: Some plants, when allowed to bolt, produce edible flowers and seeds that can be used in culinary applications, adding unique flavors and textures to dishes.

- Pollinator Attraction: Bolting plants often produce attractive flowers that serve as a food source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, supporting biodiversity and ecosystem health.

- Seed Saving: Bolting provides an opportunity for gardeners to save seeds from their favorite plant varieties, ensuring a continuous supply of seeds for future plantings.

While bolting can have benefits, it's important to manage it in edible garden crops to prolong the harvest of flavorful leaves, stems, and fruits. By implementing preventive measures and selecting bolt-resistant varieties, you can strike a balance between reaping the advantages of bolting and enjoying an extended period of edible harvests.

bolting of oregano

6 easy ways to slow bolting and keep your garden thriving:

1. Choose the Right Varieties:

When planning your garden, opt for varieties that are known to have a longer resistance to bolting. Look for terms such as "slow-bolt" or "bolt-resistant" on seed packets or plant labels. These varieties are specifically bred to delay flowering and seed production, giving you a longer window for harvesting the edible parts of the plant.

.Bolt-Resistant Vegetable and Herb Varieties:

Lettuce:

Bronze Mignonette Seeds This is heat tolerance and slow to bolt butterhead lettuce.

Salad Bowl Seeds Green This loose-leaf lettuce variety is slow to bolt, making it ideal for continuous harvest.

Salad Bowl seeds - Red

Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, 22.5 Seed Tape A popular variety with excellent bolt resistance and tender leaves.

lettuce

Spinach:

Spinach:"Bloomsdale"- This heirloom spinach variety is reliable and resistant to bolting, even in warmer climates.

- 'Tyee' (Amazon): A bolt-resistant spinach variety that is slow to flower and produces dark green, savoyed leaves.

- 'Giant Winter'(Amazon): A cold-hardy variety that resists bolting in early spring and yields large, tender leaves.

spinach

3. Cilantro (Coriander):

- 'Calypso': This slow-bolting cilantro variety produces abundant foliage and is suitable for both leaf and seed harvest.

- 'Long Standing': A bolt-resistant variety that maintains its leafy growth for an extended period before flowering.

cilantro

4. Arugula:

- 'Astro'(Amazon): This bolt-resistant variety of arugula is quick to mature and offers a mild, peppery flavor.

- 'Sylvetta'(Amazon): Also known as wild arugula, it is slow to bolt and has a more intense, pungent flavor.

arugula

5. Broccoli:

- 'Calabrese': A popular variety that has good bolt resistance and produces tight, dark green heads.

- 'Belstar'(Amazon): Known for its exceptional bolt resistance, this hybrid broccoli variety yields uniform heads.

6. Radishes:

- 'Cherry Belle': A classic radish variety that grows quickly and is resistant to bolting.

- 'Easter Egg': This mix of radishes comes in various colors and has good bolt resistance.

Remember to check seed packets or plant labels for specific bolt-resistant varieties, as breeders are continually developing new cultivars with improved characteristics. Incorporating these varieties into your garden will give you a better chance of preventing bolting and enjoying a prolonged harvest season.

2. Timing is Everything:

Proper timing is crucial in preventing bolting. Start your cool-season crops early in the spring, ensuring they mature before the onset of warmer temperatures. Similarly, for warm-season crops, sow the seeds when the soil has warmed up sufficiently. By aligning planting times with the ideal temperature conditions for each crop, you can reduce the chances of bolting.

3. Provide Adequate Moisture:

Consistent and adequate moisture is essential for preventing stress-induced bolting. Plants suffering from drought stress are more likely to bolt as a survival mechanism. Keep the soil evenly moist, especially during the critical stages of growth. Mulching around the plants helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent weed growth, further reducing stress on the plants.

4. Maintain Optimal Temperatures:

Temperature fluctuations can trigger bolting in many plants. For cool-season crops, provide some shade during hot summer days to keep the soil and air temperature cooler. You can use shade cloths, row covers, or plant taller crops nearby to create natural shade. Additionally, consider planting in locations with partial shade to help regulate the temperature.

5. Harvest Regularly:

Harvesting regularly is key to preventing bolting, particularly with leafy greens and herbs. By consistently removing mature leaves, you promote vegetative growth rather than flower development. Avoid letting plants mature to the point of producing seeds, as this signals to the plant that it has completed its life cycle. Regular harvesting encourages plants to continue leaf production and delays the onset of bolting.

6. Successional Planting:

Successional planting involves staggered sowing or planting of crops at intervals. Instead of sowing all the seeds at once, sow a portion every few weeks. This method ensures a continuous supply of fresh produce and helps minimize the impact of bolting. As some plants reach maturity and start to bolt, younger plants will be in earlier stages of growth, allowing you to enjoy a longer harvest period.

Conclusion:

Bolting and seed production can significantly impact the productivity and taste of your garden crops. By following these six easy methods, you can prevent or minimize bolting, ensuring a prolonged harvest season and better-quality produce. Remember to choose the right varieties, time your plantings appropriately, provide adequate moisture and optimal temperatures, harvest regularly, and utilize successional planting. With these strategies in place, your garden will thrive with abundant leafy growth and delicious, bolting-free harvests. Happy gardening!

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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. As an Amazon Associate I may earn on qualifying purchases.