When a cauliflower plant fails to produce a head, the condition is called “blind” or “blind bud”. Everything else about the plant looks perfectly normal. There is simply no head.
Since cauliflower plants take time, water, and real estate to grow, the lack of head production can be very disappointing. There are several causes of blindness in cauliflower, and many are preventable.
How do cauliflower heads form?
When a healthy cauliflower plant grows, it starts by producing significant numbers of large, broad leaves. In the center of all that lush growth is a nub of a bud. That bud (apical meristem) grows into the dense head of curd we know as cauliflower, except when it doesn’t. Bud blindness can result from bad seed, damage, or temperature extremes.
When animals, birds, diseases, insects, or human collisions damage the growing tip of a cauliflower plant, a head can fail to form. Common insect pests include aphids, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and slugs and snails. Animals and birds are often attracted to these tender buds. Once they have been chewed up (the buds, not the birds), it’s too late. Floating row covers can thwart some of these pests
Too hot (or cold) to handle
Cauliflower heads form best when temperatures are in the 50°F to 60°F range. Temperature spikes in either direction beyond that range may damage the growing tip enough that heads cannot form properly. Providing shade or shelter, as needed, can protect those tender growing tips.
You can also prevent blind bud by selecting varieties suitable to your USDA Hardiness Zone, starting plants at the proper time, and spacing plants with mature sizes in mind.
There is simply nothing that compares with a homegrown cauliflower.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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