Bolting in Plants

What is bolting?

[Swiss Chard Bolting]

Bolting is a natural stage in a plant’s life cycle. Flowers and seeds form because the plant wants to continue into the next season. Sometimes this is because the plant has completed its cycle, but some conditions can make a plant bolt prematurely.

Why are my plants going to seed?

[Napa Cabbage Bolting]

Change in weather and day length can cause your plant to undergo stress and begin to seed. This usually occurs when crops are planted too late into the growing season which will lead to exposure to high temperatures. Other factors like transplanting, or planting the crop in a container too small also causes bolting.

But more times then not, bolting is a natural process in the life cycle of the plant. It could be a sign that your plant is done with its lifecycle.

How does bolting, impact my plant?

[Mustard Greens completely at flower stage]

When the plant starts producing and setting seeds, energy that was previously focused on getting the plant ready for harvest, shifts its attention to growing the flower stem instead. It can change the taste, and become bitter, flavorless, and hard, or even inedible once it bolts completely.

How to prevent/respond to bolting!

  1. Check to make sure you are planting your seedling in the right season!
    • To check if your plant prefers either cold or warm temperatures you can look at our Planting & Harvesting Guide to find the best season for the specified crop.

2. Keep enough plants in your garden bed. The leaves from neighboring plants will shade the soil during hot weather, preventing water loss, and plants will protect one another from unpredictable weather. This will keep your roots healthy and happy.

3. Snip or pinch any buds that form in the center. Harvesting regularly and picking off any outer leaves increases your plant’s lifetime.

4. If bolting has gone too far for your plant, that’s OK. You can harvest seeds for the next planting season, or just leave the flowers to attract pollinators.

  • For example, (see mustard greens image above) the leaves are no longer tasty to most people, but the seeds can be collected to make mustard, season dishes, or to plant!

5. Remove the plant that is beginning to bolt and replace it with a new one! Bolting is a natural process and should not be feared, keep planting and using their garden space if your plant’s life cycle is up!

Read More on This!

“The Battle Against Bolting” by The Gardens |Growing Better Communities in South Etobicoke

“What is Bolting: 5 Easy Ways To Stop It” | Home Garden Vegetables

“6 Ways to Prevent Vegetables from Bolting” | MasterClass

You are donating to : City Slicker Farms

How much would you like to donate?
$50 $100 $250
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note