In plants, coordinated growth is important for organ mechanical integrity because cells remain contiguous through their walls. So far, defects in inflorescence stem integrity in Arabidopsis thaliana have mainly been related to epidermal defects. Although these observations suggest a growth-limiting function at the stem cortex, deeper layers of the stem could also contribute to stem integrity. The nac secondary cell wall thickening promoting factor1 (nst1) nst3 double-mutant background is characterized by weaker vascular bundles without cracks. By screening for the cracking phenotype in this background, we identified a regulator of stem cracking, the transcription factor INDETERMINATE DOMAIN9 (IDD9). Stem cracking was not caused by vascular bundle breakage in plants that expressed a dominant repressor version of IDD9. Instead, cracking emerged from increased cell expansion in non-lignified interfascicular fiber cells that stretched the epidermis. This phenotype could be enhanced through CLAVATA3-dependent cell proliferation. Collectively, our results demonstrate that stem integrity relies on three additive mechanical components: the epidermis, which resists inner cell growth; cell proliferation in inner tissues; and growth heterogeneity associated with vascular bundle distribution in deep tissues.

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