Bolting and Running to Seed

Bolting and Running to Seed

Early Flowing Rheum Rhubarb


Said of plants that are making seed prematurely. A plants purpose in life is to produce offspring usually by seed. When stressed they will trigger the reproduction button and set seed.

  • Lettuce and salad crops are prone to bolt and ‘run to seed’. The heart of the lettuce is then useless and the plant only fit for the compost heap.
  • Rhubarb and rheums also throw seed stalks taking energy from the good parts of the rhubarb. You can and should brake-off the offending stalk as soon as it is seen. Water the plant and hope the rest of the crop is unaffected.
  • Other vegetables such as members of the onion family are affected in dry and stressful conditions. This is due to the plants keenness to reproduce before it succumbs to a problem.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower whose flowers open early are not truly bolting but the cause and effect is the same.
  • Flowers that turn quickly to seed will inhibit more flower production. That is why sweetpeas and annuals, amongst others, should be deadheaded to prolong flower production.
  • Bolting may be an advantage when seed collection or production is the main aim.

‘……….there exist very little literature on the possibility of manipulating flowering for seed production’ but this book from amazon is an exception

Running to Seed

  • If vegetable plants  are allowed to set seed after flowering they may taste bitter.
  • Plants that rub to seed will probably stop growing new buds and flowering.
  • Regular cropping the stems of herbs like parsley, basil and mint delay their running to seed.
  • This old gardener is running to seed with no new growth on the top of his bald head.

Book Cover



Stratification is putting your seeds in a moist material outside over the winter to allow the variations in temperature to act on them, so that they will germinate when conditions are warmer. Seed used to be put in layers (strata) of damp sand,

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