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How to prevent your plants from bolting

How to prevent your plants from bolting

This guide is how to prevent your plants from bolting, which can be so frustrating and happen really quickly, spoiling your plants.

What is bolting?

Bolting - sometimes referred to as 'going to seed' - is when an edible plant such as lettuce/salads, some herbs, chard, spinach and other greens suddenly grow tall, and you see flower heads forming. This can happen much sooner than planned and sadly it's often before you’ve been able to harvest!  Unfortunately, when that happens, the flavour of the plant changes and makes some of the leaves and other parts bitter, so it's definitely best to avoid bolting if you can.

How to prevent your plants from bolting?

  • Make sure you plant out in the right season for your crops which will be clearly marked on the seed packet. This will make sure they get the best chance at the right temperatures for them to grow.

  • Harden off your seedlings (get them acclimatised to their new conditions) before planting them outdoors.  

  • For the varieties that are prone to bolting, you'll find that seedsmen have bred ‘bolt hardy’ or ‘bolt resistant’ varieties so you might want to choose those.

  • Consider the factors that might stress the plants and how you can prevent that. These can be very simple things such as potting on your seedlings before they get root-bound and watering consistently rather than ad hoc. 

  • A sudden rise in temperature can stress some plants and you'll notice them shooting upwards quickly. If you can provide some shade that might help slow things down, but for next season plant those veg that are prone to bolting in a part of the garden where they won't be subject to sudden/excessive heat.

  • 'Cut and come again’ varieties where you continuously cut the leaves means that the plant keeps on growing and reduces the risk of bolting. 

At Merryhatton we always carry a wide range of seed, and our plant team are delighted to help you choose the varieties that are best for you.  You can also buy your seeds online at

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