Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Real Men Sow
Lettuce bolting is inevitable. As we know, lettuce is a fast-growing, versatile plant that can be consumed at any stage of its life. It’s also available in hundreds of different varieties. Like all plants, lettuce has a life cycle. It begins as a seed, develops leaves, and produces seeds. It is a natural process that can be confusing for some. Bolting, however, can be prevented from happening.
Lettuce enjoys growing in the garden in cool seasons, whether it’s spring in the US or winter in California. The vegetable will bolt quickly in high heat and temperatures over 80°F. It’s possible to delay bolting by mimicking the cool season.
It may be difficult to trick lettuce into thinking it is still in the cool season. These leafy vegetables can be fooled by planting under shade or trees to keep the sun from their leaves.
These greens might not be possible to grow later in the summer depending on where you live. You might want to wait until the temperatures rise again as this is one of the first vegetable crops that likes below 75°F. These vegetables won’t thrive if it is 80°F during the heat of summer. You should wait until fall to add lettuce to your garden.
Why is There Lettuce Bolting?
Lettuce will bolt when it is trying to get on with its next stage of life. These leafy vegetables do not bolt when a gardener is doing it wrong or is killing them. Bolting is part of the natural progression in the life cycle for lettuce’s attempts to reproduce.
Lettuce that bolts is trying to flower. Once pollinated, it will produce seed. Lettuce doesn’t follow an exact timetable, but rather responds to the environment to determine when it is time to reproduce. As the days become longer, more hot and dryer (i.e. When summer begins, lettuce will flower. Because pollinators are more active when flowers bloom in spring, lettuces have evolved and adjusted their life cycles so that they are pollinated at the most favorable times.
Signs of Lettuce Bolting
Gardeners can look out for signs of bolting early by paying attention to the center of the lettuce heads. The center of the lettuce head will begin to thicken and elongate, creating a new center. This is the stage where the flower stalk begins to form. This centerpiece can be trimmed back to slow the bolting process. However, the leaves might still taste bitter.
How To Slow Or Stop Bolting
You can prolong the life of lettuce by mimicking its natural responses. Shade it from the sun and heat on hot days. Shade it on dry days to keep the soil around it moist. On longer days, shade is needed so that the lettuce doesn’t bolt.
Extending the Grow Season
You can create the perfect garden for these leafy greens, even in weather that would cause it to bolt. You can extend your harvest by tricking plants to believe it is in another season. Shade is the most important thing when growing lettuce in temperatures that reach 75°F during the day.
Shade cloth is a great option in these situations and comes in many types. A woven red or white cloth is best for growing lettuce in warm seasons. A woven fabric allows for more airflow which keeps the plants cool and discourages diseases. Avoid shade cloths that are designed to shade people or plants like orchids. They will block too much of the sun’s rays. Shade cloths that claim to shade 30-60% of the sun’s UV rays are ideal. It is important to place it at an appropriate height so that it does not weigh down the leaves. This cloth can be used in summer because it lowers the temperature that lettuce grows at while keeping moisture.
Bolt Resistant Varieties
Over the years, many new varieties have been created to resist bolting. This means that the plant will eventually produce a flower stalk, but this process can be delayed in order to extend your lettuce harvest. These varieties include:
- Sparx (romaine).
- Salvius (romaine)
- Starfighter (green leaf)
- Red leaf: New Red Fire
Although these seeds can be difficult to find (try Jonny’s online provider), they are worth it as they will prolong your growing season for what many gardeners consider their favorite crop.
The world isn’t over once a lettuce plant dies. There are many options for what to do about a bolting lettuce plant. After it bolts, lettuce can produce a variety of beautiful flowers. These flowers can also attract pollinators to your garden so they can pollinate any plants nearby. You can safely feed your pets pulled plants, such as a rabbit or guinea-pig, if you have limited garden space. To protect neighboring plants, you can wait for aphids to appear on the tender leaves before pulling it.
Finally, one of the most important uses of bolting lettuce plants is to collect seed for next year. Many home gardeners, as well as farmers, love to save their seeds. Many home gardeners (and farmers) love to save seeds for next year and trade them with other growers. This is a great way to grow crops that are native to your area. You should keep in mind that hybrid plants will produce different plants next year. To save seeds properly, allow the lettuce plants to continue growing and then put energy into the seeds all summer. To collect the seeds and prevent them from being carried away by the wind, place a small mesh bag on top of the head.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Eat Bolted Lettuce? Is it safe?
Bolted lettuce can be eaten, but the flavor will not be as pleasant as usual.
Will The Bolted Lettuce Regrow?
When cut to the base of bolted lettuce, it will grow again if given the right conditions. The entire plant could die if summer heat is too high. However, if it’s kept cool, it can reseed and continue to produce.
What Should I Do When My Lettuce is Bolting?
There are many options for growers when lettuce plants start to bolt. They can use flowers to attract pollinators or it can be given to pets who can eat leafy vegetables (chickens and bunnies), or it can even be saved for seed.