Cotton Plant 101: What do a cotton plant, blooms & bolls look like? VIDEO

close up of cotton bollLast weekend as I drove through the Missouri Bootheel, I saw cotton fields at various stages of development. In fact, I found one field that had a lot of bolls on it and was still blooming too, so it gave me a chance to show a lot of the different stages of growth for cotton.

I hope some of you enjoy looking at the video, it sort of brings one of my top cotton 101 posts What does a cotton plant look like? into a state of motion.

Key Parts of the Cotton Plant

cotton blooms at various stages via MS StateCotton plants really are beautiful! There are pretty flowers and cotton bolls are absolutely awesome. Lots of people haven’t had the chance to take those plants in first-hand. So this video and post is a way to share that beauty with those of you who may not have plants within reach! So what should you look at on the cotton plant?

  • White flower / white bloom — The first day a bloom opens it is white or a creamy yellow color. In the afternoon, the pollen is released and as it self-pollinates.
  • Pink flower / pink bloom — Once pollinated, the flower begins to turn pink, becoming a bright fuschia in a few days.
  • young boll / green boll Young boll — As the pink bloom dries down, the young boll pushes its way up, forcing the pink bloom to fall off as a tag. The boll continues to grow as the fiber and seed grow.
  • Cracked boll — As cotton fiber matures, cotton bolls open slowly as the bracts dry and separate.
  • Open boll — This is the part of the plant that most people think of when they think of a cotton plant… it’s what we harvest. And it looks like the cotton balls in our bathroom cabinets.

Learn More about Cotton

There are lots of great sources of information on my favorite crop!


About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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33 Responses to Cotton Plant 101: What do a cotton plant, blooms & bolls look like? VIDEO

  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy September 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    What a great post. I may reblog this, if I can figure out how to do it. Well done!

    • Janice Person September 26, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      Thanks! I have another video or two I shot that same day. They are still to come!

    • Guy W. Baker August 28, 2016 at 10:38 am #

      I can’t believe it; here in northern Michigan I have several cotton plants in my garden, and today I have blossoms on some of them! I have no aspirations of seeing cotton, but it’s been pure fun growing them from seed I picked up a few years ago in Arkansas!

  2. Suzie Wilde September 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Just awesome! We are getting ready to start harvesting, this just makes me want that day to be here sooner.

  3. Ed Nicholson October 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Cool piece. Thanks!

  4. October 2, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Our Farm City Week focus is cotton this year. I needed some detailed information in coloring for younger 4-Hers who will have a color sheet. The video is perfect. Thank you so much

    • Janice Person October 2, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Wow! Glad I could be helpful! I share cotton info on my blog in hopes people find it when they are googling! Having worked in the cotton biz for seemingly forever, I feel like I have a responsibility to be sure accurate info is out there. Glad it is being found!

      • Ashley August 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

        Thank you for the blog I found me a young cotton field and thought it was a field full of flowers now I know a lot more. It really is cool

      • Janice Person August 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm #


  5. Richard Rulon September 5, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    I have had flowers and bolls on my two dozen plants since mid June. I have a lot of flowers and large bolls. it is now September and no sign of plants Dying or any of the Bolls opening. I am in Connecticut Is there anything I can do to hasting the process Thank you

    • Janice Person September 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

      Richard, Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! My best bet is if you can do something to encourage more energy go to those bolls, it will help. The easiest thing would be since you only have a few plants, pull the new flowers off. That should allow the energy that would go to them, to go to the bolls you already have set and that you really want to open instead. Also, if you can find a way to help encourage heat, that would be good…. maybe a sunlight reflector normally used in the car directed to the plants…. and a little fertilizer like Miracle Grow couldn’t hurt. Would love to see photos too — maybe even get you to write a guest post!

  6. suzanne June 18, 2015 at 6:58 am #

    i have one cotton plant that has just flowered. the flower has fallen off and i am waiting in anticipation for the cotton. my husband suggested that i hook my sewing machine to it. ha ha.
    it is an intriguing plant and i hope to plant the seeds.

    • Janice Person June 18, 2015 at 7:25 am #

      Congrats! I hope the flower was pollinated & that you can see the boll forming, sometimes flowers drop without that due to stress or something. would love to see a photo you can email me at jplovescotton at janiceperson dot com

      • suzanne June 18, 2015 at 10:17 am #

        there is a hard brown ball underneath where the flower was so lets hope. i have my own native bees nearby so lets hope they did their job of pollinating.

      • Janice Person June 19, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

        Great! Cotton is self-pollinating actually so as long as it produced the pollen it should have been able to do the job. #fingerscrossed 🙂

      • suzanne June 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

        i have seven potential cotton boles on the if they all cotton i will harvest them, spin the cotton and then knit, croquet or weave it.
        i watered the plant with worm urine and plain water so i think that was right.
        hopefully lots of seeds so i can replant and have more plants.

  7. Balancingbrom July 11, 2016 at 8:13 am #

    Worm urine?

  8. Anonymous August 29, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Can a plant not produce bolls

    • Janice Person August 29, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      The plants absolutely produce bolls! The process takes the summer but that’s the reason we plant cotton.

  9. faiz October 19, 2016 at 5:10 am #

    how we categories different cotton varieties?


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