Are you worried about the sudden scraggly stem growth and premature flowering of your broccoli?
Well, to be precise, your broccoli is bolting!
If you are wondering why is my broccoli bolting, you are at the right place.
We understand that the sight of sudden tangled stem growth and premature flowering of your once-perfect broccoli is worrisome, but there is no need to worry.
In this article, we’ll talk all about bolting in broccoli, the reasons, and the solutions.
Therefore, without further ado, let’s begin!
- What is Bolting?
- Why Is My Broccoli Bolting? | The Reasons!
- How to Save Broccoli from Bolting?
- Early Signs of Bolting in Broccoli!
- Can I Eat a Bolting Broccoli?
- Can I Save Bolted Broccoli?
- Is Bolting Broccoli Useful?
What is Bolting?
Before we move forward, let us understand what bolting is.
It should not be confused with the natural plant cycle of maturity and flowering.
“It is the plant’s natural response to unfavorable growing conditions by conserving and seeding itself.”
As a result, you see it growing long, thin stems with protruding flowers much earlier than naturally.
Let’s learn the reasons behind it.
Why Is My Broccoli Bolting? | The Reasons!
The broccoli plant may get stressed due to several factors.
Have a look at the major ones:
Among the various irritants for your broccoli plant, heat is on top of the list.
This cool-loving broccoli does best between 65–75°F (18–24°C). When the temperature rises in summer, the plant roots get overheated.
Consequently, the plant saves itself by getting into self-preserving mode and making seeds.
Thus, it bolts.
The longer days and intense summer sun are the other common stressors for your broccoli.
The foliage gets heated up, resulting in stressing out the plant to start its natural response of saving and preserving itself.
3. Root Stress
Any physical damage to the roots is another possible reason for the problem.
Moreover, indoor potted plants have a higher chance of getting root bound. That disturbs the plant’s growth, forcing it to become unhealthy and possibly start bolting.
Related article: Why Is My Lettuce Growing Tall? 4 Honest Reasons!
How to Save Broccoli from Bolting?
All the efforts to grow your precious broccoli plant must not go in vain.
Let us have a look at some of the proven ways to keep your broccoli from bolting.
The roots of your cool-loving plant must be kept safe from the intensity of summer.
Applying a thick layer of organic mulching materials (like straw) on the soil surface will help to insulate the soil. Also, it will lock in the moisture and protect it from the harmful effects of sun rays.
Putting cardboard on the soil before the mulch is also recommended.
That will help to avoid the common weeds growing and stealing nutrients from your desired plants.
To avoid bolting, the plant should be safe from the intense summer sun.
Consider choosing a suitable method to create a sun shield for your plant.
Standard sun-blocking methods include a shade cloth, row covers, or a large umbrella for the growing space.
Moreover, you can also grow some tall and quick-growing shady plants to cover the broccoli.
However, proper pre-planning, including plant choice and placing, is required to follow this method.
3. Succession Sowing
Instead of planting all the seeds at once, you can plant a weekly batch.
That will grow broccoli plants in different stages, saving them from bolting all at once. Hence, if you notice any signs of bolting, you can follow measures to protect the rest of your lot.
See and notice possible stressors and follow the suitable way to save the remaining plants.
4. Early Transplant
The indoor plants have a good chance of getting root bound.
So, you must transplant them to bigger pots before the current ones become unsuitable for them. Sometimes the seedlings need more indoor time for the weather to become suitable.
In that case, you can transfer them to big pots before you finally plant them outdoors.
5. Healthy Soil
Like all other plants, soil quality is crucial for the plant. Thus, provide healthy soil to your plant to avoid bolting and many other health issues.
Related article: Best Potting Mix for Indoor Plants – Grow Gardener Blog
6. Early and Frequent Harvesting
Broccoli plants naturally develop new shoots after the cutting of the main heads.
The bolting chances of these side heads are much lesser than the parent ones. So, it is better to avoid letting the heads grow fully. The key is to prefer harvesting smaller heads, especially if the summer is about to be intense.
Also, this will not end up here as you can keep harvesting the new growths of the side shoots.
7. Resilient Plant Varieties
Modern cultivation has introduced wide bolt-resistant varieties.
So, if you want to avoid regretting later by thinking, “why is my broccoli bolting?” consider planting resistant varieties.
This is a special recommendation for late planters expecting an intense summer before the main harvest.
Early Signs of Bolting in Broccoli!
So, how do you know if your broccoli is bolting or about to bolt?
Let us discuss the possible indicators for the start or possibility of broccoli bolting.
1. Flowering Broccoli Stems
You might see thin, tall, and quick-growing stems on your broccoli plant. These stems indicate bolting and will eventually start to bloom.
2. Flowering Broccoli Heads
Large plant heads are most prone to bolting. A slight disturbance and the large green heads will burst to bloom.
3. Stunted Broccoli Heads
In some cases, the growers may observe that the broccoli heads are not growing any further. That is another clue that the plant is already or about to bolt.
Can I Eat a Bolting Broccoli?
People wonder if they can still consume their premature flowering or bolting broccoli.
Unfortunately, the answer is No! You cannot eat bolted broccoli.
The reason behind this is the change in the genetic details of a bolting plant. The florets and the leaves become bitter, while the soft and juicy stalks turn hard and woody.
On the other hand, the earlier caught bolting broccoli heads can still be consumed.
Yes, if you harvest them at the beginning of the flowering, they might not be that bad. However, don’t expect them to be as tasty and nutritious as the healthy broccoli heads are.
Can I Save Bolted Broccoli?
You would not be happy to hear that bolted broccoli cannot be saved.
Once it bolts, you cannot reverse the procedure. Cutting the bolted heads will result in nothing except the growth of more of the bolted ones.
Thus, it is always better to keep an eye on the growing plants and save them before you waste your efforts.
Is Bolting Broccoli Useful?
The unfit bolted broccoli heads should not be consumed. However, you may get the following benefits from them:
1. Pleasant Flowering
The wasted plant may still bring some benefits. Yes, you cannot ignore the beauty of the yellow tint in your green garden.
Natural pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds would love the tiny yellow blooms. These visitors will bring health and pollination to your plants in the long run.
3. Broccoli Seeds
Flowers are a good source of broccoli seeds that can be used for upcoming plantations. However, the plant must not be a hybrid variety that does not grow from seeds.
With all that said, I hope I’ve cleared up all your concerns regarding bolted broccoli.
Watch this video if you want to learn more:
The bolting of broccoli is a natural response to disturbing growth factors like sunlight, heat, and root damage. The plant tries to preserve itself by seeding and develops premature flowering and stunted growth.
Bolted broccoli, unfortunately, cannot be consumed or reversed.
However, once you catch bolting at the beginning, you can save the rest of the lot by different measures.
Experts recommend several measures like growing resistant varieties, mulching, sun protection, and using healthy soil.
Why is my broccoli bolting, you asked? I hope you got the answer.
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