Correcting Misshapen Crops: Solutions for Plant Buttoning in Stone Fruits and Cole Crops

Plant buttoning refers to the development of small, misshapen, or aborted fruit and vegetables, typically affecting stone fruits like peaches and cole crops such as broccoli and cauliflower. It is a concerning problem for gardeners and commercial growers, as it leads to decreased yield and quality. Understanding the causes and knowing how to address plant buttoning is vital to ensuring a healthy and productive harvest.

Causes of Plant Buttoning

There are several factors that can contribute to plant buttoning in both stone fruits and cole crops. Let’s take a closer look at what might be triggering this problem in your garden.

Weather Conditions

In stone fruits, fluctuating temperatures during flowering can result in poor fruit set, leading to buttoning. Cold weather and frost can damage the blooms, while unexpected warm spells can cause uneven growth.

For cole crops, excessive heat during the early stages of development can cause plants to button, as these plants prefer cooler weather.

Nutritional Imbalances

Both stone fruits and cole crops are sensitive to nutrient imbalances in the soil. An excess or deficiency of specific nutrients like nitrogen can lead to buttoning.

Improper Watering

Overwatering or underwatering can cause buttoning in both types of crops. Stone fruits need consistent moisture, especially during the flowering and fruit set stages. Cole crops also require regular watering to prevent stress that might lead to buttoning.

Pest and Disease Issues

Pests like aphids can transmit diseases that cause buttoning in stone fruits. Cole crops can be affected by a range of pests and diseases, including cabbage worms and downy mildew, leading to buttoning.

How to Fix Buttoning in Stone Fruits

Addressing buttoning in stone fruits involves careful monitoring and intervention. Here are the strategies to consider.

Monitor Weather and Provide Protection

Protecting blossoms from frost and sudden temperature changes can prevent buttoning. Utilizing frost cloths or windbreaks during critical periods can make a significant difference.

Maintain Proper Nutrition

Regular soil testing and appropriate fertilization can ensure that stone fruits receive the nutrients they need without causing imbalances that lead to buttoning.

Implement Consistent Watering

Developing a consistent watering routine that provides moisture without waterlogging the soil can prevent stress that might lead to buttoning.

Control Pests and Diseases

Regular monitoring for signs of pests and diseases and implementing appropriate control measures can prevent problems that might cause buttoning.

How to Fix Buttoning in Cole Crops

Addressing buttoning in cole crops requires a different set of strategies, tailored to their specific needs.

Plant at the Right Time

Planting cole crops at the correct time for your climate ensures that they develop during cooler weather, reducing the risk of buttoning.

Provide Proper Nutrition

Just like with stone fruits, regular soil testing and appropriate fertilization can prevent nutrient imbalances that might cause buttoning in cole crops.

Water Regularly

Implementing a consistent watering routine that ensures that cole crops receive the moisture they need without causing water stress can prevent buttoning.

Control Pests and Diseases

Regular monitoring and control measures for the specific pests and diseases that affect cole crops can prevent the development of buttoning.


Plant buttoning in stone fruits and cole crops is a complex problem with a range of potential causes. By understanding the underlying factors and implementing appropriate preventive and corrective measures, it is possible to minimize the impact of buttoning and ensure a healthy and productive harvest. Whether you are a home gardener or a commercial grower, these strategies can help you navigate the challenges of buttoning and enjoy the rewards of your hard work in the garden.