How to Grow Broccoli from Seed to Harvest
You consider growing broccoli at home? Great! I’ve done it before and growing broccoli can be quite a lot of fun.
However, there are also some things you have to know in order to grow your broccoli from seed to harvest in the best possible manner.
In this article, I give you a step-by-step approach on how to grow broccoli in your garden or on your balcony as easy and as enjoyable as possible.
I also added some videos from other gardeners to give you an even more comprehensive picture of the broccoli growing process.
Without further ado, let’s get started! 😉
Broccoli Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.|
|Climate||Broccoli grows best in moderate climatic zones with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Broccoli plants need a healthy mix between sun and shade.|
|Soil Requirements||Broccoli plants grow best in slightly acidic soil with pH between 6 and 7.|
|Country of Origin||Italy.|
|Growing Difficulty||Intermediate. While you don’t need expert knowledge, you should check out all the tips and tricks in this article to grow your broccoli plants in a decent manner.|
|Perennial?||No, broccoli is an annual and harvested in the first growing year.|
|When should you start?||Between March and Mai, depending on your region.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can harvest one main broccoli head per plant and some smaller heads later on in the year.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||90 to 130 days to grow broccoli from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Loopers, Aphids, Webworms, Maggots, Harlequin Bug, Blackleg, Clubroot, Downey Mildew, White Blister.|
|What to do with it?||You can make salads and delicious casseroles out of your broccoli.|
What Types and Varieties of Broccoli can you grow?
While you might just know the main broccoli varieties you can buy from the store, there are several other broccoli varieties. I listed the most popular broccoli varieties for growing purposes below:
- Calabrese broccoli
- Eastern Magic broccoli
- Romanesco broccoli
- DiCicco broccoli
- Belstar broccoli
- Sun King broccoli
- Purple Sprouting broccoli
- Paraiso broccoli
While I love growing Calabrese broccoli due to its decent yields and its tasty flavor, I advise you to try many different broccoli varieties until you find your favorite one.
Especially if you have never grown your own broccoli at home, I advise you to choose different broccoli types or just to use a broccoli seed mix.
By doing so, your growing experience will be much more interesting since you will get many different broccoli plants and crops at the end of the growth process.
When should you start to grow Broccoli?
The optimal time to start your broccoli growth project is between March and May.
However, I advise you to start as early as possible so that your broccoli crops will get ready in time.
Especially if you live in a climatic zone that is not perfect to grow broccoli, you should expect rather long growing times and should start early so that your broccoli will get ripe in time.
Thus, whenever possible, start out as early as March to make sure that your broccoli plants can grow in an optimal manner.
How long does it take to grow Broccoli from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 90 and 130 days to grow your broccoli from seed to harvest most of the time.
However, please note that the lower end of this scale is only meant for pretty experienced growers.
Hence, don’t expect that you will be able to grow your broccoli plants from seed to harvest under 100 days if you do it for the first time.
Also note that growing your own plants is not only about the yield. It is about the overall growing experience and the process.
Consequently, instead of aiming for quicks wins, make sure to enjoy the ride instead of just the harvest. And always see the positive.
If it takes you longer to grow your broccoli from seed to harvest, you can enjoy the growing experience for longer.
In fact, I really love seeing my plants grow and if it takes longer, even better!
Hence, just be patient and start our early on in the year and it will not matter too much whether it takes you a little bit longer or shorter to grow broccoli from seed to harvest at home.
What is the best Climate to grow Broccoli?
Broccoli plants grow best in rather moderate climatic zones. However, if you don’t live in too extreme climatic conditions, you will be just fine to grow broccoli.
For instance, if you live in Western Europe or the United States, you don’t have to worry about living in the right climatic zone in most countries.
It would only be a problem if you lived in the tropics or at a place where it is freezing all year long.
Hence, if you live rather moderate climatic conditions, you will be just fine with growing your own broccoli at home.
What Temperatures do Broccoli like?
While broccoli plants usually grow best between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, seed companies did a great job to develop strains that are resistant to a much wider temperature range.
In fact, if the temperatures in your region don’t drop below the freezing mark in summer or early autumn, you will just be good to go.
What do you need to grow Broccoli?
While growing your own broccoli at home is fairly simple if you follow the steps in this article, there are still some things you need to get to grow your broccoli plants in an optimal manner. This includes:
- Growing bed (to grow your broccoli seedlings)
- Flower pots (the bigger, the better; only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your broccoli)
- Broccoli seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Sticks and cord to stabilize your broccoli
- Potting soil
- Watering can
- Slug fence
- Garden shovel
What Yield can you expect when you grow Broccoli?
While you can only expect to harvest one main broccoli crop, your broccoli plants will still develop smaller side shots once you harvested the main one.
Hence, you can let your broccoli plant grow for a few more weeks or even months and harvest additional broccoli from the same plant.
If you do it right, your broccoli yield per plant can be pretty decent and over time, you will be able to optimize your yields even further since your overall level of experience will increase as well.
And always remember: Growing your own broccoli plants is not only about the yield. It is about the overall growing experience.
Hence, don’t be disappointed if your first yield is rather small. Just enjoy the process!
In fact, for me, the actual yield is just one small part of the whole experience and I love seeing my plants much more than harvesting them at the end of the growth period.
What should you grow with Broccoli?
You want to learn more about what plants to grow with broccoli? Make sure to check out all the good and bad broccoli companion plants!
Why should you grow your own Broccoli?
You may think something like: Why should I actually bother with growing my own broccoli plant?
Wouldn’t it be easier to just get broccoli from my local store? You are right.
It would be definitely easier and probably even cheaper to buy your broccoli from the store. However, as I told you before, growing broccoli is not only about the yield.
It is about enjoying the process. If you grow your own broccoli, you can learn a lot about natural processes. Moreover, you can also grow broccoli that is much healthier compared to the broccoli you can buy in your conventional store.
In fact, in conventional agriculture, plenty of pesticides and herbicides are used, which can contaminate the broccoli crops and can be quite bad for your health.
Additionally, by growing your own broccoli, you can also reduce your overall stress level.
In fact, growing your own plants can be a quite peaceful experience and for me, it is perfect to just sit outside and to enjoy looking at my plants.
Hence, while growing your own broccoli might not make sense from a financial standpoint and it may also take you more effort compared to just buying it from the store, there are several other advantages related to it and you should not only see it from an end-result perspective but should rather factor in the enjoyable process behind it.
If you still don’t know whether you should grow broccoli at home, also make sure to have a look at all the pros and cons of growing broccoli.
Growing Broccoli: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Broccoli Plants
I hope I convinced you that growing your own broccoli is indeed a good idea.
If it did, let’s go into detail regarding the actual growth planning process.
Before you can start growing your broccoli, you have to figure out the perfect site to do so.
Do Broccoli like Sun or Shade?
Broccoli grows best when you offer your broccoli plants a healthy mix between sun and shade.
In fact, contrary to many other plants, broccoli does not like too much direct sun.
Hence, choose a spot in your garden where your broccoli plants will get a few hours of sunlight each day but are not exposed to the sun all day long.
What are the Soil Requirements of Broccoli?
Most broccoli varieties prefer soil that is slightly acidic with a pH of 6 – 7.
You can create this environment by simply mixing potting soil from the store with the soil from your garden and you will be good to go.
Also make sure that you loosen up the soil a little bit to make it easier for the roots of your broccoli plants to grow.
How much Space does Broccoli need?
Broccoli plants usually don’t need too much space in the vertical. However, they need plenty of space in the horizontal.
In fact, make sure that you plan at least 10 square feet of space for each broccoli plant in your garden.
Only then will your broccoli plants have enough space to get sufficient nutrients and sunlight and will be able to grow in a healthy manner.
Hence, don’t underestimate how much space your broccoli plants will need and plan accordingly.
Of course, if you have a big garden and plenty of space, feel free to give your broccoli plants as much space as you want. There will simply not be too much.
In fact, if you offer your broccoli plants more space, they will grow even better since they don’t have to compete for nutrients with any other plants.
Thus, the more space you can offer your broccoli plants, the better they will grow.
Should you plant Broccoli in a Pot or in the Garden?
It is theoretically possible to grow broccoli in pots instead of in a garden. In fact, if you don’t have a garden but only live in a flat with a balcony, you will simply have no other choice if you urgently want to grow broccoli other than just to grow it in pots.
However, please note that you will have to use a pretty big pot to offer your broccoli enough space to develop in a healthy manner.
Consequently, as long as you have a garden, I would highly recommend you to just grow your broccoli there since you will have a much easier life and you will also be able to provide your broccoli plants with more natural growing conditions.
2. Plant Broccoli Seeds
After figuring out the perfect site for your broccoli growing project, it is now time to get into details regarding the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Broccoli Seeds or Seedlings?
Some garden stores offer you broccoli seedlings to buy. However, in my opinion, you should rather rely on raising your own seedlings instead of just getting them from the store.
Otherwise, you would just miss out on an important step in the overall growth process of broccoli.
In fact, to get the full growing experience, I would suggest you just get broccoli seeds and grow your seedlings from scratch.
You will also be able to transfer this knowledge to various other growth projects since growing seedlings from seed is quite similar for a variety of different plant species.
And don’t be discouraged! Growing your own broccoli seedlings is not difficult at all.
In fact, I show you how to do this step-by-step in the following chapters of this article.
Should you buy Broccoli Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
While I often recommend producing your own seeds instead of just buying them from the internet or from your local garden store, I don’t recommend it for broccoli at all. In fact, as long as you have never grown broccoli before, you will simply have no opportunity to produce your own broccoli seeds.
Even if you did so, it is rather complicated to extract broccoli seeds and therefore, it is simply not worth the effort in my opinion.
Just get some good seeds from seed companies and you will be good to go.
How to plant Broccoli Seeds
If you already got your seeds, it is now time to move on to actually planting our seeds.
For that, just use the growing bed mentioned before and fill it with potting soil from the garden center.
Make sure that you leave a few inches of space in the vertical and don’t fill it completely with soil.
After that, just place your broccoli seedlings onto the soil.
Make sure that each seedling has around 5 inches of space to each other so that your seedlings will not have to compete for light or nutrients and can grow in a healthy manner.
After you finished placing your seeds, just cover them with an additional layer of soil of around 2 inches in height.
Finally, just water your broccoli growing bed and you are done.
Make sure to place your seedlings at a warm and bright spot inside your home so that the germination process can take place in an optimal manner.
Also make sure that you plant more seeds than you actually want to get seedlings. To make this clearer: Let’s assume you want to produce 10 broccoli seedlings.
In this case, I would suggest that you plant around 25 seeds since some of them will simply not germinate and rather rot in the soil.
If you really produce too many seedlings, you can still give them away to your family and friends and chances are that they will be quite happy about it.
Consequently, make sure to grow enough seeds so that you reach your goal of producing a certain number of seedlings.
How long does it take to see the first Broccoli Seedlings?
It will usually take a little bit more than one week until you see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
However, depending on the location you have chosen for your growing bed and the overall conditions you provided, it can also take a little bit longer.
Even if it takes longer, don’t get discouraged and just wait and let nature do its work.
However, after one month, I would no longer expect and new seedlings to reach the soil surface and if the number of seedlings you produced up to this point is not satisfying, I would suggest you plant some additional seeds to the spots in your growing beds where seeds have not germinated.
How to protect your Broccoli Seedlings
As long as your seedlings stay inside the growing bed inside your home, there will not be too much need to protect them.
In fact, as long as you don’t have any pets, you don’t have to worry about protection at this stage.
However, if you have pets, make sure that they will not be able to reach your growing be in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises 😉.
When should you transplant your Broccoli Seedlings?
After a while, your broccoli seedlings will get bigger and the time will come when you finally want to transplant your broccoli seedlings outdoors.
I do this if the following two criteria are met. First, I have to make sure that my broccoli seedlings have a minimum height.
Only if they are at least 4 inches in height, they will be resistant enough to be transplanted outdoors.
Sure, seedlings will still be quite vulnerable at this stage, yet most of them will survive with proper protection in my experience.
If you want to minimize the risk for your seedlings even further, you could also wait even longer and let your seedlings even grow bigger inside your four walls.
Second, you also have to make sure that the overall climatic conditions at the respective time of the year are suitable to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Suitable means that outside temperatures should no longer fall below the freezing mark, not even at nighttime.
If both criteria are met, the time has come to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Before you actually transplant your seedlings outdoors, you first have to prepare your growing site in your garden.
For that, dig a hole for each seedling in your garden with your garden shovel.
Each hole should be around 10 square feet big and around 1 foot deep. After digging those holes, mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store and fill the soil mix into your holes.
Now you are ready to transplant your seedlings from your growing bed into your garden.
Make sure that you remove each seedling from your growing bed carefully so that you don’t hurt the roots.
After you transplanted all seedlings, you just have to water each seedling in your garden and you are done.
If you really want to take the effort to grow broccoli in a pot, just fill the pot with potting soil and transplant your seedlings there.
After that, water your pot. However, as mentioned earlier, I am not a big fan of growing broccoli in a pot and I would not recommend you to do so if you have a garden at home.
What kind of Protection do Broccoli Seedlings need outdoor?
Contrary to growing your seedlings indoors, your seedlings now face the harsh reality outdoors and need some additional protection against outside forces.
In fact, if you don’t protect your seedlings outdoors properly, chances are that you will wake up one day and your seedlings will be gone.
Hence, to protect your broccoli seedlings in your garden, just use a slug fence in order to deter snails and other animals that may want to feed on your broccoli seedlings.
This should be enough to defend your seedlings against most attackers.
I would not recommend using additional chemical measures in order to protect our natural environment and the local flora and fauna from contamination with harmful components.
3. The Broccoli Growth Process
Now that you transplanted your broccoli seedlings and protected them in a proper manner, the hardest part lies behind you.
In fact, from now on, your broccoli plants will become more resistant every day and the risk that they will die off will become lower.
However, although the hardest part is done, there are still some things to consider which I discuss in the following.
Should you prune your Broccoli Plants?
You could if you want to. However, I personally don’t like pruning plants at all since it is an unnatural process and is not in line with how nature evolved over many thousands or even over millions of years.
In my opinion, it is far better to just let your broccoli plants grow and let nature do its work.
In fact, you will be surprised how good the results will be many times if you don’t interfere too much with natural processes.
Do you have to pollinate your Broccoli Plants by Hand?
No, there is no need to pollinate broccoli. You can just leave your broccoli plants like they are and you will be good to go.
There is no need for any manual pollination efforts and you can just leave your plants alone and let nature do its work.
How to stake your Broccoli Plants
While some people claim that staking broccoli can be a good idea, others claim that it is not necessary.
In my opinion, staking and stabilizing broccoli plants can make quite a lot of sense in order to minimize the risk that your broccoli plants get destroyed by heavy winds.
To stabilize your broccoli plants, make sure to anchor one bamboo stick next to each plant deep into the ground. After that, just use some cord and tie your broccoli plants to those sticks.
By doing so, you can stabilize your broccoli plants in a proper manner and you did everything you can to protect your broccoli plants from outside influences.
4. The Broccoli Harvest
I hope you followed all the steps for growing broccoli from seed to harvest carefully.
If so, you should see pretty decent results in late summer or early fall.
When should you harvest your Broccoli?
I guess most of you know how broccoli looks like when it is ripe. In fact, your broccoli crops should look pretty similar to those you can get from the store when they are ready to be harvested.
The broccoli heads should be deep green with tightly packed buds.
If you are not sure whether the right time has come or not, just harvest one broccoli crop and cook it.
If it tastes as it should, you can harvest all the other crops.
If not, let them mature a little bit longer until you finally harvest them.
How to store your Broccoli?
You should store your broccoli in dark, dry and cold places inside your home.
However, while you can store broccoli for a few weeks, I would recommend you to eat your broccoli right after you harvested it since it contains the most precious nutrients and vitamins at this stage and also tastes the best.
What should you do with your Broccoli?
There are almost endless ideas regarding what to cook with your broccoli. You can make broccoli soup or just make a casserole.
You can also invent your own broccoli dish if you are really creative.
Either way, I am sure you will have a great time eating delicious broccoli from your own garden.
Trust me: Vegetables from your own garden will taste much better and you will also value them much more compared to just getting them from your local store.
Broccoli Plant Care Tips
Although you already got most of the information you need to know to grow your broccoli plants in an optimal manner, some general information is still missing which I give you in the following chapters.
How often should you irrigate Broccoli?
You should water your broccoli plants on a regular basis.
While they will not need much water at the beginning when seedlings are still rather small, their water consumption will increase almost exponentially over time and on hot summer days, chances are that you will even have to water your broccoli daily.
If you are on vacation, you have to make sure that someone waters your plants while you are away so that your broccoli plants will survive.
If you are not sure whether your broccoli plants need water or not, just dig a hole in the soil with your small finger.
If the soil is still wet, you don’t need to worry about watering.
If the soil is dry, you should water your plants. Over time, you will get pretty skilled and your intuition will tell you when it is actually time to water your broccoli plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Broccoli Plants?
The best time to water your broccoli plants is in the early morning.
However, from my experience, it doesn’t make too much difference whether you water your broccoli in the morning or at night.
Much more important is that you water your broccoli plants on a regular basis so that the soil does not dry out for an extensive period of time.
How often should you fertilize your Broccoli Plants?
You should fertilize your broccoli plants on a regular basis so that the big crops can develop in an optimal manner.
While the soil mix you provided for your plants already contains plenty of nutrients, it can still help to add additional fertilizer to make the growing conditions even better for your plants.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Broccoli Plants?
While you could just use chemical fertilizer, I highly recommend that you don’t. In fact, using chemical fertilizer is quite harmful to our environment and can also damage the soil in the long run.
Instead, make sure to rely on natural fertilizer instead which you can get from the internet or from your local garden center.
If you have a little bit of time, you can even make your own natural fertilizer.
You just need to collect some stinging nettles, put them in a bucket of cold water and let them in the bucket for a few days.
After this period of time, just remove the plant material and you have a natural liquid fertilizer which you can just add to your watering can and mix it with conventional tap water.
You can also directly apply this stinging nettle liquid on the soil of your plants.
Make sure that you use a small fraction of this fertilizer every week and you should be good to go.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Broccoli?
Instead of relying on chemical pesticides that can hurt many helpful insects like bees, you should rather rely on natural pesticides.
In fact, the stinging nettle liquid mentioned before is not only great as fertilizer, it can also help to keep away pests.
You just need to spray it onto your broccoli plants and you can deter most pests with it since pests usually don’t like the taste of stinging nettles at all.
You also don’t have to use any herbicides. Just remove weeds by hand and you are just fine.
If you need more information on broccoli pests, make sure to also have a look at how to control broccoli diseases and pests.
What’s left to say?
Phew! It was a quite long article, wasn’t it? However, it had to be that long to pack it with all the information you need to know to grow broccoli from seed to harvest step-by-step.
I hope you liked my broccoli grower’s guide. If so, make sure to also share it with your family and friends.
If you want to learn even more about growing broccoli, feel free to also check out my growing broccoli FAQ section.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.