The Q&A Archives: Broccolli Buttoning

Question: I planted 24 broccoli plants in my garden. Many of them were eaten by some unknown pest- possibly slugs- only the
skeletons of the plants remain. About 15 plants look nice-
large and leafy- but one has buttoned ( a dime sized head down deep at the base of the leaves). It is still cool at
night and most days are cool, but there have been a few very
hot days. Is this the cause??? also, can I still get a head
from this plant in the future, or some side shoots?? Can I
prevent the rest of the plants from buttoning???
lisa fletcher

Answer: There are many causes for poor quality broccoli ranging from transplanting too late so the weather is warm to inadequate or irregular watering to lack of overall soil fertility, but the main causes of buttoning seem to be allowing seedlings to become rootbound prior to transplanting and/or insufficient hardening off or conditioning prior to transplanting which causes the plants to suffer transplant shock. Unfortunately, there is probably not too much you can do at this point, although a side dressing with a complete fertilizer and care with the watering might salvage some of them if they haven't headed yet -- if there is a combination of factors at work. You might want to try broccoli again for a fall crop and be careful about your transplanting practices.

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