University of Florida

Vegetable Bolting

If you're new to vegetable gardening, you may have heard the term "bolting." But what does it actually mean?

Bolting is another way to say that a vegetable plant has started to flower. It can happen in spring when cool-season crops respond to the warmer temperatures and longer days. Crops that often bolt include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, collards, and other greens.

The trouble is that bolting can affect the quality of your harvest. As plants put more energy into flowering and setting seed, the vegetables will start to taste bitter.

Pinch off any flowers as they appear, and you may be able to extend your harvest season by a few weeks. And in the future, look for seed varieties that are labeled as "slow bolting."

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Bolting cauliflower with purple flowers
(cc) Evelyn Simak. Some rights reserved.

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