bok choy flowers?**newbie alert**

GaelicGardener(z6 RI)June 3, 2005

This is my first year growing vegetables in my garden. I usually just concentrate on flowers. I bought 6 little bok choy plants and they're doing quite nicely. I planted them around May 15th. The leaves are getting bigger and are a lovely dark green. One of them, though, is growing a great big tall stem of yellow flowers. Should I just leave it alone? Should I be worried that the other plants don't have flowers as well? And when are they going to start looking like the bok choy that I see in the market -- they look more like the picture at the top of this forum.

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PokeyPine(8b/9a PNW Coast)


If your Pac Choi is bolting (flowering) it is really past it prime for eating. Like lettuce that has bolted it won't be as tender and tasty. Usually you harvest it before they bolt. The best way to grow pac choi would be to start it from seed. Treat it much like you would growing lettuce (ie: make a nice seed bed then lightly sprinkle some seeds down on it and then dust a little dirt/sand on). If you see your other plants forming buds at the heart harvest them asap.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 5:49PM
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Yup - you definitely do NOT want to see flowers on your Pak Choi (or on your broccoli, lettuce, broccoli raab, etc., etc.). It's definitely past it's prime at that point. If I were you, I'd harvest the flowering one completely & taste test a little, then keep a sharp eye on the rest & harvest them the very moment you see them even thinking about sending up that flower stalk.

As far as what your Pak Choi looks like, there are many different varieties - some that form short stalks, some that form flat rosettes, & then the tall upright bunching ones like you see at the market. You either have one of the short/flatter types, or your Pak Choi - due to weather or culture - is planning on bolting before it reaches its mature form.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 10:53AM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

No, No, No...
the bolting stems with flowers are the best part!
Eat from the flowers down the stem untill it gets too woody.
A bolting stem is best just before the flower buds open up.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 3:56AM
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Thanks for the info npthaskell - I'll have to try that with my Pak Choi if they turn.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 8:55AM
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Ok.. let's clear this up. If it's actually flowering - the flowers are open, not just blooms, then your plant is not going to live as long as the other plants which have not reached that stage of maturity. But you can eat the foilage and stem (as mentioned above down to where it gets tough - no one wants tough parts of any plant to eat)

The ideal time to harvest bolting stems is while they are still closed, little clusters/buds/solid nubs. Sort of like broccoli, they'll be crunchy. It's my favorite part to eat as with most people. But you cook the leaves and stems at the same time. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 5:25PM
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So let me get this straight, As I also have 'bolting' Bok Choy:

I can get satisfaction from my plant by letting it grow a flower stalk and then eating both the leaves and the brocoli like stalk?

If that is the case, I will let it keep bolting until the stalk is of an edible size.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 1:16PM
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trilliumgreen(7 PNW)

My pac choi ching chiang is only ~2 inches tall with very few leaves and is already bolting. Last year is was so easy to grow I assumed the same would be true this year. Maybe its the weather we are having in the NW - mostly cold and wet but occasionally punctuated with a couple hot days(???)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Same thing happened to me, I am also a newbie. Guess it's bok choy for dinner tomorrow.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 10:57PM
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I only bother with dwarf varieties. I didnt grow much but had some tasty harvests this spring.

But I am close to giving up growing dwarf bok/pak choys during the my zone's illinois summer. We had a cool year this year and (succession) plantings still bolted way too easily; in late may i think, didnt keep notes.

However, I havent tried mei qing variety as suggested by another poster in this forum. I guess I should order the seeds soon for a fall planting!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 1:06AM
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Won't the flowers just keep coming back if you harvest the flower down to right before it's too woody?

I have found with my gai lan (chinese broccoli) that you can harvest everything - big leaves, nearly the entire stalk, and just throw away whatever is bug eaten, too tough, or too dark green (leaves), and eat the rest, then the new shoots will come up. Harvest the new shoots regularly, just pull them off the plant where they are tender. If you get them early enough, the entire "bud" comes off the plant with all it's tender stems, so you don't need to break any stems in half.

I'm wondering if Bok Choy is the same way; can you keep re-harvesting it?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 10:54PM
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I bought a bok choy at the store, cut the leaves off the stump and planted the stump and it is beginning to leaf out!

For the OP and anyone else who bought plants that bolted, I'd say let the plant go to seed, so you will have seed to plant later instead of having to buy plants.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:29AM
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Can I pick my bok choy like rhubarb, just breaking off the leaves so it will continue to grow?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:42PM
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My Chinese Cabbage is bolting as well. Should I just pull the entire plant, root and all? Or cut the leaves as pat4 was asking?



    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:59PM
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This is such a confusing old thread that I can understand how it just generates more questions and how there is probably a reluctance by some to step in with any answers.

Let me just say what I do: I grow bok choy each year and try to have it for as much of the growing season as possible. That means I sow seed and resow seed. I move plants around first out of the greenhouse and also where the bok choy seedlings are a little too crowded in a seed bed.

Bok choy seems to bolt fairly easily. I think it bolts when it is stressed by too much cold just as it does when conditions are hot and dry. There is probably only a fairly narrow window when its growth is optimum but this doesn't mean it is unusable all the rest of the season!

As far as treating it as a cut-and-come-again when harvesting leaves: I've never done that and I've grown bok choy for a good 20 years. The flower buds are a different story, however.

Sure, if it would take a half dozen of your plants to make a fork-full and the plants are already bolting - you haven't got much going in the bok choy patch. But, if your baby bok choy is as big around as your wrist and it starts to send a flower stalk up - get that and bring it into the kitchen! Even if the little yellow flowers have started to open -- to me, that flower stalk is the sweetest part of the plant and is often, plenty tender!

It would be a shame, to my way of thinking, to throw that plant in the compost. The lower leaves, however, are probably too tough to enjoy. But, if you've got 1 good-sized flower stalk, chances are, you will get a couple more off that plant in a few days. Of course, they will be smaller.

Yes, tender little bok choy leaves are great. And, if they have begun to bolt - their season is coming to an end. All the more reason to have seed going in the ground just about every week.

You may have to take a month or 2 off from sowing bok choy seed but get back to it as the temperatures begin to drop in late summer. Bok choy makes a fine fall crop here and probably where you garden, also.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:48PM
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Earlier this afternoon, before I read your post, I pulled up one "Chinese Cabbage" (Burpee) that had bolted. I studied it carefully, trying to remember what was said on this thread. I ended up pulling off each leaf, dipping it ever so lightly into salad dressing and just eating it raw. I chewed on the stalk, and spit it out. So the entire stalk and flowers were thrown away.

It seems that every cabbage plant I have has bolted, but, it is my first year growing any type of cabbage, and I will, I hope, learn.

I've never grown a fall crop. Since I am in zone 6 (NJ) when do I plant the seeds? Should I plant them indoors and transplant outdoors, or just plants the seeds directly into the soil?

I am growing Chinese Cabbage, Pak Choi, and Baby Pak Choi, all are Burpee seeds.



    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Donna, only seldom do I eat Asian greens as salad veggies. I may eat Chinese cabbage leaves raw but perhaps not after it has bolted. There is probably a somewhat obscure one called maruba santoh that is real mild and good in a mixed salad. So, I may not be the best person to respond. A stir-fry guy here . . .

My summer garden environment is arid, with hot days and cool nights. It isn't much like southern China, Japan or Thailand here. My idea of gardening in New Jersey is that you have a much more suitable climate.

I still have bok choy over a long period during the early season. Seed will be sown for a fall crop as soon as it cools off a little in late August and then again in a couple of weeks. Maruba santoh takes a little too long for the fall and but fun jen works well as does a twisted-stem mustard. Komatsuna was something new and a real good choice last fall. I'm looking forward to having it again this time.

I do a lot of moving small plants around in the garden . . .


    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 6:52AM
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Here is a thread about my experiences 5 years ago. I was just "broadening out" a little altho' I've grown Asian greens for about 20 or 25 years now.

I can note that I have grown a choy sum for 2 or 3 years now. I've still not been willing to buy "ounces" of shuka seed but had a little of it again this year. And, I've yet to order anything from Agrohaitai.

(I just stare at the catalog pictures online every winter . . . ;o)


Here is a link that might be useful: posts from 'o6

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 7:13AM
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Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 10:25PM
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I know this is a very old thread, but I am quite confused.

This year I have grown regular bok choi and baby dwarf bok choi from seeds. I started the seeds in the greenhouse, hardened them off, and planted them outside a few weeks ago. Our spring (as per our usual here) is pretty crazy. One day can be 89 degrees, the very next day will be 45 degrees. Temps can drop to 35 at night, and we had a freeze warning last week, wherein I covered everything in the garden.

The dwarf baby bok choi is only 2 or 3 inches high with not many leaves. All the leaves are pretty small. The stalks are about 5 inches high with small yellow flowers just starting to open.

From what I have read here, I should pull up the plants and eat them now? My four tiny plants would probably barely make a couple of bites.

Can I cut the stalks back? Continual harvest leaves like I do with the lettuce? Let it go to seed and replant?

If I try again, should I wait until our temps get more consistent? The regular bok choi is fine, as are the cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I think that there was a little too much weather stress on the baby bok choy, MamaJane. It just bolted to seed at a very small size.

You have probably decided what to do with it by now since you posted over a week ago. I sometimes take the flowering stalk and leave the remainder of the plant in the ground. It will usually produce 2 or 3 stalks but they will be smaller than the 1st.

It is really necessary for me to plant seed every couple of weeks and all of those sowings will grow in a different way. Yes, there will be 1 or 2 that will provide plants that are much larger than the others. Still, they can all be useful in the kitchen. Just sow enuf seed that even with minimum development, you at least have a couple of servings.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:03AM
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