Throughout its life, a plant goes through a sequence of stages from seed germination to seed production as a mature plant. Plants (mostly vegetables and herbs) are said to bolt when their growth rapidly changes from being mostly leaf-based to being mostly flower- and seed-based.
Why do plants bolt?
Most plants bolt due to hot weather, length of time spent growing, or light cycles. When these triggers happen it flips a switch in the plant to produce flowers and seeds very rapidly while abandoning leaf growth almost entirely.
Bolting can be considered a survival mechanism in a plant where it initiates hormone production and focuses its entire energy reserve on producing seeds.
What do bolting plants look like?
Typically, when the bolting process begins, the plant's stem begins to elongate, leaves begin to appear duller rather than shiny, and there is more space between individual leaves. Bolting plants' leaves often become tougher and more bitter in flavor.
Bolting lettuces with elongated stems and flower buds forming
How do I delay bolting?
- The first and easiest way to help delay bolting is to follow our Placement Guide to ensure each plant receives the most ideal light and temperature combination on your Gardyn for stress-free growth. Most fruiting crops, like tomatoes or peppers, prefer warmer temperatures, while leafy greens and herbs prefer cooler temperatures.
- Maintaining Gardyn's recommended light schedule is another way you can help reduce your plants' likelihood of early bolting due to light stress.
- Finally, if you see flowering stems begin to appear, cutting them immediately can help slow the bolting process and buy you a little more harvest time.
What about my herbs?
You can delay the bolting of your herbs by conducting regular pruning to encourage more vigorous and robust growth. When you delay flowering by preventing and removing bud development, it allows the herbs to keep growing and continue producing tasty leaves.
Snip flowers off of herbs like Thai Basil
When pruning back the flower buds on your herbs, snip right above your plant’s growth node. A growth node is a new shoot coming out of the stalk.
What should I do with my bolting plants?
While the above tips can help you delay bolting, once a plant starts to bolt, it never stops trying to go to flower/seed. This means that once bolting sets in, it's best to prepare a replacement yCube and accept that it's the natural end of this plant's life cycle.
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