How to Grow Broccoli and When to Plant It

May 11, 2012 by

how to grow broccoliLearning how to grow broccoli and cauliflower can be challenging and fun. Sometimes your plant looks totally healthy, but doesn’t produce a very large head. Sometimes it takes a bit of experience to be able to get good at growing broccoli. The first time I grew broccoli in my yard, I got heads, but my heads were very sparse. I fertilize it once, and the outside temperature got way too hot for it. But now I have learned how to do a better job with my broccoli plants.

When to Plant Broccoli

Knowing when to plant broccoli is important. A lot of people will wait until the fall to plant it because it isn’t  hot during the fall, as it is during the middle of the summer. When you’re growing broccoli, the outside temperature has a big influence on how the plant develops.

Broccoli is a warm weather plant but it doesn’t like hot weather. When the weather’s too hot, it will put stress on the plant and it won’t develop heads properly. If it is really hot, make sure your plant gets plenty of water so that it doesn’t dry out. Most of the time people planted in the spring, but can also be planted in the fall if you use green houses around your planting beds. Adding mulch and lots of water to your beds will help you to have thick stems. Thick stems will give you better blooms. The nice thing about broccoli is that if you keep on cutting the blooms, the plant will continue to have them. This means you can get several harvests off the same plant.

planting broccoli indoors

Planting Broccoli Indoors

If you start your broccoli indoors, you can start it around  February 1 for spring planting, or July 1 for fall planting. Then, in the early spring you can transplant them outside. This actually makes it nicer because you can harvest your plants earlier. Not only that, but you will also be able to get more blooms from your plant before winter weather comes along.

If you are planting in the fall, you want to wait until the temperatures are less than 90° before planting outside. Usually, the best time to plant outside is in the middle of August. Make sure you have enough time for them to bloom before winter.

What Should You Do if Your Broccoli Does not have a Head?

If your broccoli plant is flowering, but does not have a head, it probably means that your plant  did get enough fertilizer. Usually organic or compost fertilizers work the best. You can also use chemical fertilizers, but be careful not to use too much. The best times to apply compost is in the fall right after you have harvested, and then again about 4 to 6 weeks after you have transplanted your broccoli plants outside.

In order for broccoli plants to grow really well, the average daily temperature should be between 75° and 85°. Sometimes if it gets too hot, you don’t get very good results when you’re growing broccoli. If you live in the southern United States, you can try transplanting broccoli in the middle of August. This way, it is not good to harvest for broccoli and you should be able to harvest it before the beginning of winter.

Broccoli Soil Preferences

planting broccoli indoorsBroccoli prefers soil that is slightly alkaline. It does not grow very well in acidic soils and doesn’t produce very much. The easiest way to make your soil become more alkaline is by adding a bit of lime to it. For best results, you soil that is high in nitrogen. Do not use fresh maneuver because it will be too strong for your plants. When you plant your broccoli, you want to make sure each plant is 2 feet apart. If you are packing your broccoli from starters, you want to wait until it has produce three or four leaves before planting it outside. Broccoli is a plant that needs a lot of water, so make sure to water it well.


The Essential Guide to Gardening Techniques by Susan Barry. Thunder Bay press, San Diego, California.

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