Stop your plants from feel­ing ‘seedy’

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING -

seeds on ma­tu­rity.With­out rain or ir­ri­ga­tion, the soil dries and the plant re­sponds by be­com­ing ma­ture, flow­er­ing and set­ting seed be­fore it dies.

When an­nu­als en­counter stress or checks while grow­ing, they re­act to the threat by go­ing to seed. Gar­den­ers call this ‘‘bolt­ing’’. ‘‘Bolt re­sis­tant’’ plants will tol­er­ate a bit of stress be­fore they go to seed.

Some veg­eta­bles are quite prone to bolt­ing un­less the grow­ing con­di­tions are per­fect from the time they ger­mi­nate to the point of ma­tu­rity. Pak choy for in­stance, bolts at the mer­est growth check.Th­ese growth checks can be caused by con­di­tions be­com­ing too dry, too hot, too cold, too soft or by in­suf­fi­cient di­rect sun­light.

Those grow­ing their own seedlings need to give them op­ti­mum grow­ing con­di­tions and then prick them out with­out dam­ag­ing the roots af­ter ‘‘hard­en­ing off’’.

Hard­en­ing off is most im­por­tant. When plants are grown un­der con­trolled con­di­tions in a glasshouse, their fo­liage is soft, and if shoved straight out into the real world the seedlings are likely to die or suf­fer stress.

To over­come this, com­mer­cially pro­duced seedlings are trans­ferred to spe­cial houses where they are pro­tected but grad­u­ally ex­posed to the el­e­ments.

It’s some­thing to be aware of when buy­ing plants. When seedlings reach a re­tail out­let they are of­ten placed un­der cover where they can be­come soft again. As th­ese seedlings are big­ger with larger root

‘‘When plants are grown un­der con­trolled con­di­tions in a glasshouse, their fo­liage is soft, and if shoved straight out into the real world the seedlings are likely to die or suf­fer stress.’’

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