If you have gardened for very long I am sure you have heard “watch for bolting” in regards to winter crops and some herbs. Here in Texas, it is sometimes hard to keep our cool weather greens from bolting due to the warmer winter climate no matter how closely we monitor them. Cilantro & basil both come to mind when I think of fast bolting plants here in zone 9a.
What is bolting you ask? It refers to when the plant stops it’s leaf production phase and moves to the flower and seed producing phase. It is the plants way of surviving by producing the next generation via sees as quickly as possible. When growing things like arugula, basil, cilantro, bok choy & lettuce mixes it is important to harvest them regularly to keep the plant producing the leaves we love to eat. However, if the temperature spikes it may be impossible no matter how often you harvest.
No matter how hard it is to watch our plants stop producing food it is equally important to leave those bolting plants in the ground. The flowers from these plants are typically an early spring food source for bees, butterflies & beneficial insects like the Lady Beetle.
The next time your plants shoot for the sky and begin to bolt please consider leaving them in your garden for our bee and insect friends.