White Clusters on Plant Stems: Flowering or Insects?

Posted on Apr 5 2011 - 2:47am by Mike Lieberman

It’s been two-months since I’ve started my garden from scratch and for the most part it’s doing pretty well.

Though I did notice that there were some white clusters on the stems of the spinach plants. These clusters were forming around the part where the leaves are coming off of the stems.

I also noticed an insect on the plant as well around the clusters. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether it’s insect larvae or that the plant is attempting to go to seed. I had an aphid infestation last year, so it wouldn’t be totally out of the question.

When plants start to flower and go to seed, their leaves become bitter tasting, which the spinach was not. For now the top parts of the plants that have these white clusters have been picked off.

I’ll continue to monitor the plant to see what happens. What do you think these white clusters can be?


  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. I thought the same thing at first, but it’s growing further down the plant stem too, where the leaves are coming from the stem. That’s it starting to flower??!?!

  • Anonymous

    It’s bolting dude. Spinach doesn’t seem to make pretty flowers like other veggies. You can tell because it’s growing an elongated stem with leaves up and down along it instead of staying a short clump. It takes a day or two of bolting before it develops the bitter taste.

    If it’s anything like the variety I grew then it will make silkie little puffs are the leaf joints and some at the end that won’t really “flower”. Then if they’re pollinated they will start growing little inappropriate balls up and down the stem :)

    You might also have aphids, they love new growth at the growing tips of plants. Give it a light soap spray if you want to try to let the seeds grow out.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Hm. It bolted pretty quickly. Maybe not enough water?!

    Thanks for the advice.

  • http://sephrenia-urbangarden.blogspot.com/ Anna Malin Wernerstrom

    Hard to say from sweden ^^ I can ask my mother in law who is an botaniste what she thinks.

  • Laurenmariesweet

    My spinach seedlings are doing the exact same thing. I only planted them a month and a half ago and they’re not even two inches high. They also look as if they’re bolting, but that seems impossible, they’re so tiny! I’m also clueless…

  • Katherienekelley

    Not sure what your weather has been like, but temps can cause spinach and lettuce to bolt.

  • Juanita

    Looks like it’s bolting to me, Mike, and that is the seeds you’re seeing. Spinach is a cool weather crop and will bolt very quickly with just a day or 2 of warmer weather. The rest of the plants in the container look kind of tall, as spinach goes. So maybe having to reach for light combined w/warmer temps led to bolting. I have grown spinach for years and hate to see this happening, because it means my crop is almost done until fall planting.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    It seems that bolting is the popular answer. Doh!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    It’s reached the 80s and possibly the 90s on a few days. Damned. Looks like I’m gonna have to plant something new…

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Damned. Looks like I’ll have to plant something else in it’s place now. Hmm…

  • Anonymous

    Naw, I highly doubt you didn’t give them enough water. It’s much more likely
    because of the sudden heat wave we had for a few days recently.

  • http://ramblinganne.blogspot.com Anne

    The spinach is bolting. Spinach plants are male or female.. and what you are holding is a female plant that is bolting.

    Stress will trigger them to bold really fast. Moisture in particular will cause it to panic and bolt (when container growing spinach, you have to check it multiple times a day for water. It just takes a few hours of being too dry for it to get stressed. Things like Moisture Mizer help or mulching, but still have to keep an eye on it.).. as well strong temperature fluctuations and even transplanting.

    If it was aphids… they’d move and when you looked at them you can’t miss they are bugs and not buds.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the explanation Anne.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the explanation Anne.

  • Your Enchanted Gardener

    Thanks for your writing Mike. I went to a somewhat conventional seder last night and it has raised some deep questions about how out of order most of us are with our relationship with food. I right relationship begins with keeping the beat with nature and that comes from growing some of your own food. You are on the right tract. Through observation and experience, we learn something about growing
    our own food and growing ourselves in sync with nature. Keep up the good work. Leslie Goldman
    Your Enchanted Gardener

    Plant Your Dream Blogs

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the comment and kind words Leslie. Doing my best to get back in touch with nature.

  • http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com Vegetable Garden Cook

    Yes, it looks to me like they are bolting. I find spinach too much of a pain in the butt to deal with, because it takes forever to get going and if you have a hint of a hot spell then bam! Spinach bolts. Luckily, some varieties of kale are interchangeable with spinach (Russian varieties) and chard or beet greens. 

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the info. Will def have to reconsider growing spinach again.