Rich in vitamins C and K, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, broccoli is a powerhouse veggie you can easily add to your diet.
You can eat it stir-fried, sauteed, steamed, or mixed in with your pasta dish, soup, or rice-based meal.
What’s the best way to have broccoli, you ask? Fresh from your own vegetable garden, of course!
For this to happen, it all starts with knowing when to plant broccoli.
Broccoli is a cool-season crop that thrives when the air temperature is between 45 and 75 F.
When to plant broccoli? The best time to plant broccoli is in late winter to early spring, resulting in an early summer harvest. You can also plant in mid to late summer when the temperature is not too hot and expect a harvest in fall.
Choosing Broccoli Seeds
Broccoli has different varieties suitable for various planting zones based on the standards followed by most gardeners.
As mentioned, this crop prefers cooler temperatures.
Hence, knowing your growing zone is crucial in choosing the right broccoli variety to plant.
This hybrid variety has blue-green heads that grow well in the Southern part during winter.
It typically matures around 65 days and is suitable for spring and fall harvest.
Calabrese mostly grows in planting Zones 3 to 10 and matures in 65 days.
It can grow up to two feet tall with a bluish-green head as large as six inches in diameter.
Destiny is a hybrid variety with heat tolerance, so you can plant it in the summer for a fall harvest.
It matures in 70 to 75 days, producing small to medium round green heads.
Di Cicco Broccoli
This is a cool-season variety that produces small to medium bluish-green heads.
It matures as fast as 50 days and is the best-tasting type perfect for fall or spring planting.
Eastern Magic Broccoli
Eastern Magic is a hybrid variety fit for the colder areas of northeastern Canada and the US.
This heat-tolerant and fast-growing variety matures within 60 to 65 days.
Green Magic Broccoli
Green Magic is a hybrid, heat-tolerant variety with smooth medium heads that mature in 60 days.
Its blue-green head is known for its delicious buttery flavor.
Sun King Broccoli
This high-tolerant variety is famous for its delicious flavor, and you can expect it to mature within 70 days.
Its blue-green head grows up to six to eight inches in diameter.
Waltham 29 Broccoli
This cold-tolerant variety enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson has big blue-green main heads and spreading of side shoots.
It requires 85 days to completely mature and does so in an irregular fashion.
Planting Broccoli in Different Climates
From the broccoli seed varieties listed, you will notice that each one thrives in different conditions.
Know the climate in your area before deciding on the broccoli type you want to grow.
Below are some important details to remember per climate.
Some broccoli species can grow and thrive in tropical or subtropical conditions.
If you live in a tropical area, you can plant broccoli seeds in pots or trays during mid to late summer.
Once the weather cools, you can transplant them in your garden.
When the weather gets too hot, broccoli flowers start to appear, preventing the head’s growth.
You can prevent this from happening by adding mulch to keep the roots cool.
The heading variety of broccoli can survive in warmer weather as long as it is well-watered.
Grow them in seed trays and transplant them within four to six weeks.
Choose heat-tolerant varieties, like Green Magic, if you have a dry climate in your area.
A region with a temperate climate has mild weather conditions, where there are wet winters and fresh summers.
Broccoli can survive in temperatures between 26 and 95 F.
However, you should expect it to germinate and produce high-quality heads in 60 to 70 F.
Areas with a continental climate may experience extreme weather conditions.
Broccoli needs full exposure to the sun to grow best, but it won’t thrive in extremely hot weather.
Temperatures that are either too warm or too cold prevent broccoli from forming the edible head.
Although broccoli belongs to the cold-tolerant vegetable variety, preconditioning still plays a crucial role in its survival.
Cold temperatures between 26 and 31 F will not kill your broccoli plant.
How To Plant Broccoli
Planting broccoli seeds is simple and easy, but it is still beneficial to have some background information to ensure success.
If you live in an area with a cold climate and short summers, sow broccoli seeds indoors.
For those living in a warmer climate, you can plant them directly in your garden.
To guide beginners, some seed packets indicate the best planting date, depending on its variety.
Check out the step-by-step planting tips below to start your broccoli growing journey.
Step 1: Prepare the Seed Tray
Get a seedling tray and start filling it with a premium seed starting pack or pre-moistened peat pellets.
Step 2: Decide on the Number of Seeds
Plant one seed per hole if you are using new ones.
Otherwise, you can put two to three pieces of broccoli seeds per hole if they are old.
Step 3: Plant the Seeds
You have two options in planting broccoli seeds.
First, you can make a not-so-deep hole three inches apart and drop the seed or seeds inside.
Alternatively, you can simply place the seed on top of the soil and then press it in.
Step 4: Cover the Seeds
Bury the seeds in about ⅛ to ¼ inch of soil, ensuring they are completely covered.
Step 5: Add Water
You must avoid disturbing the soil and moving the newly planted seeds when watering.
Gradually pour the water into the tray, letting the soil absorb it from the bottom.
Drain any excess or unabsorbed water after 20 minutes.
Step 6: Cover the Tray
Cover the tray with a plastic lid to prevent the soil from drying out during the germination process.
To encourage growth, place the tray in a warm spot or on top of a heat mat.
Step 7: Transplant Your Seedlings
Monitor the progress of the vegetable by checking it daily.
You can transplant the broccoli to your outdoor garden in a deeper hole after four to six weeks.
When doing so, make sure you give each plant about 12 to 20 inches of space in-between.
How To Water Broccoli
Ensure you give your broccoli plants regular hydration to encourage faster growth and larger heads.
Here’s how you can do that:
Step 1: Water Regularly
Broccoli plants need to receive anywhere from one to one-and-a-half inch of water per week.
You must keep the soil moist but drained to prevent the roots from rotting.
Step 2: Avoid Watering the Head
Avoid getting the growing broccoli heads wet as you water the plant so that they don’t rot.
Water them from the base but avoid disturbing the plants while watering as their roots are still shallow.
Step 3: Check the Soil
Make it a habit to press a finger on the soil to determine if it’s dry or wet.
You can use this simple technique as a guide to know if your plant is getting enough moisture or might need more.
How To Grow Broccoli
The appropriate temperature, location, and regular watering are integral factors to growing broccoli successfully.
You also have to understand how to properly care for each plant until it’s matured and ready for harvesting.
Step 1: Provide Enough Sunlight
Broccoli needs six to eight hours of full sunlight every day to prevent it from being leggy.
Long stems will develop if the plant is not getting enough sunlight.
Step 2: Repot the Broccoli Deeper
If you notice that the broccoli is becoming leggy, you have to take action.
Scoop the plant carefully, including the roots, and transfer it to a deeper hole.
Then, make sure it gets the right amount of sunlight this time.
Provide 12 to 24 inches of growing space in-between your broccoli plants to encourage a bigger main head.
Step 3: Soil and Fertilizer
Broccoli thrives well in slightly acidic but rich soil with pH levels of six to seven.
You can maintain the steady growth of the seedlings and new transplants through fertilization.
Use a balanced fertilizer with potassium and phosphorus to increase bloom development.
Step 4: Harvest Time
The main head of the broccoli is composed of unopened flowers.
Harvest the vegetable when you notice that the central head measures four to seven inches in diameter.
How Long Does It Take For Broccoli to Grow?
Broccoli seeds come in different varieties, so you have to choose the suitable type for your location.
You can choose between large heads versus small but abundant ones.
Some take months to mature, while others are ready for harvest after only a few weeks.
The amount of time for broccoli to mature and be ready for harvest also depends on the planting method you decide to follow.
If you start planting broccoli from seed, it will take 100 to 150 days before it becomes ready for harvesting.
On the other hand, you can harvest transplanted broccoli after 55 to 80 days.
Then, you can cut the main head, including five to six inches of the stem, leaving the base and other outer leaves.
This process encourages the growth of new heads from the secondary shoots.
Broccoli tastes better when freshly picked from your garden.
You can also store it in the crisper of your fridge for up to seven days but not longer.
Broccoli is a versatile ingredient for different meals providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your body.