How to Grow Cauliflower from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow cauliflower in your garden or on your balcony? Good news! It’s fairly simple and also quite a lot of fun.
I give you all the information you need to grow cauliflower from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
Moreover, I give you some additional general information on how to grow cauliflower at the end of this article.
Please note that I also added videos to give you an even better understanding of how to grow your own cauliflower to give you a comprehensive picture of this topic.
Enough talk. Let’s get into it! 😉
Table of Contents
Cauliflower Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.|
|Climate||Cauliflower plants grow best in moderate climatic zones with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Cauliflower grows best with a healthy mix between sun and shade.|
|Soil Requirements||Cauliflower prefers rather neutral soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7.|
|Country of Origin||Cyprus.|
|Growing Difficulty||Intermediate. You need some knowledge to get a decent yield from your cauliflower plants.|
|Perennial?||No, cauliflower is grown as an annual.|
|When should you start?||You should start to grow cauliflowers indoors around 1 month before you expect the last spring frost and transplant them outdoors later.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can harvest one cauliflower head per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||90 to 130 days.|
|Pests & Diseases||Aphids, Snails, Maggots, Worms, Black Rot, Clubroot, White Mold, Downy Mildew.|
|What to do with it?||You can make all sorts of delicious casseroles and salads out of your cauliflowers.|
What Types and Varieties of Cauliflower can you grow?
You might just know the main cauliflower sorts from your local grocery store.
However, there are many more cauliflower varieties you can grow. I listed the most popular ones below:
- Cheddar cauliflower
- Depurple cauliflower
- Self-blanching Snowball cauliflower
- Sicilian Violet cauliflower
- Veronica Romanesco cauliflower
- Graffiti cauliflower
- White cauliflower
Most of the time, I prefer to grow the classical White cauliflower simply due to the fact that it produced decent yields and is relatively robust to outside climatic conditions.
Yet, feel free to grow various other cauliflower sorts if you want to. In fact, if you have never grown your own cauliflower, I would suggest you grow different varieties of cauliflower.
This will not only give you a good impression on what you want to grow in future years, but it is also more interesting than just growing a single cauliflower variety.
In fact, you will be quite surprised by how many different cauliflower sorts you can actually grow. If you are really adventurous, you can also just go for a cauliflower seed mix.
When should you start to grow Cauliflower?
Since cauliflowers need plenty of time to grow, you should start out with your growing efforts pretty early on in the year.
While you could start between mid of March and the end of May, I highly recommend you start rather earlier than later so that your crops will get ripe in time.
In fact, many people underestimate that it can take quite a while until your cauliflowers will finally produce crops and if you start too late, chances are that your cauliflowers will not be able to produce decent yields in time.
Therefore, especially if you are a beginner, try to start your growing efforts in mid of March to be on the safe side.
How long does it take to grow Cauliflower from Seed to Harvest?
Growing cauliflower from seed to harvest usually takes between 90 and 130 days.
However, please note that the exact time that is needed to grow cauliflowers also significantly depends on various different factors, including overall climatic conditions, the site you choose for growing your cauliflowers and also your skill level.
Hence, while experts who exactly know what they are doing can grow cauliflowers relatively quickly, you may need much more time if you are still a beginner.
However, if you follow all the steps in this article, you can also grow your cauliflowers in a reasonable amount of time.
Moreover, don’t be discouraged if it takes a little bit longer than expected to grow your cauliflowers. Just enjoy the process instead of just the end result.
Gardening is all about slowing down from our stressful daily lives and the longer it takes you to grow your cauliflowers, the longer you can enjoy your growing experience. Hence, just be patient and let nature do its work.
What is the best Climate to grow Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is a vegetable that grows best in rather moderate climatic zones.
However, as long as you don’t live in the tropics or in Antarctica, you will be just fine to grow cauliflower.
In fact, seed companies did a great job over the past years to develop strains that are rather resistant to different climatic zones and therefore, as long as you don’t live in an extreme climatic zone, you are good to grow your own cauliflowers.
What Temperatures do Cauliflowers like?
Cauliflowers usually grow best between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, cauliflowers don’t like excessive heat and rather like cooler temperatures.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t grow cauliflowers in hotter climatic zones. It just means that your cauliflowers will not have optimal conditions.
Still, you can get decent results out of your growing efforts and even though you might not be able to provide your cauliflowers optimal temperatures, you can still get good yields if you follow the steps in this article.
What do you need to grow Cauliflower?
There are some things you urgently need to grow cauliflowers in an optimal manner. These include:
- Growing bed (to grow your cauliflower seedlings)
- Flower pots (the bigger, the better; only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your cauliflower)
- Cauliflower seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Sticks and cord to stabilize your cauliflowers
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Fascination for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Cauliflower?
You can only grow one cauliflower per plant. This may not sound a lot. However, cauliflowers can get quite big and if you grow enough cauliflowers in your garden, chances are that you can still assure your supply with cauliflower for several months.
Thus, don’t let this fact deter you from growing cauliflower.
In fact, growing cauliflower is not only about the yield, it is about the process to get there.
I personally love to grow my own cauliflowers not because of the end result, but because I love seeing progress.
Consequently, don’t only focus on how big the yields of the respective plants may be.
Rather focus on the growing experience since this is by far the most fun part in my experience.
What Plants should you grow with Cauliflowers?
To learn more about what to grow with cauliflower, make sure to check out my article where I show you the best and worst cauliflower companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Cauliflower?
Many people also don’t understand why they should grow cauliflower at home. In fact, it is much easier to just get your cauliflowers from your local store.
However, while this is true, you will miss out on many opportunities if you just buy cauliflower.
First, you will not be able to enjoy the overall growth process.
In fact, I really love growing plants and for me, it is not about the end result but rather about the process.
It is just fun to watch my plants grow and growing my own plants is a quite nice hobby for me.
Second, if you just get cauliflower from the store, it is often contaminated with harmful chemicals since in conventional agriculture, significant amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used.
In turn, you may also become more vulnerable to diseases related to the consumption of those substances.
Hence, if you want to do your health a favor, you may also want to grow your own cauliflowers instead.
Third, growing cauliflowers is a great way to unplug from your stressful daily life.
In fact, just sitting out in your garden and enjoying the quiet atmosphere next to your plants is a great experience which can help you to relax from your stressful daily life quite a lot.
Therefore, growing your own cauliflowers can have many important advantages, even though it might not be reasonable from a financial perspective.
If you want to know even more about why you should grow cauliflower at home, you should also have a look at the pros and cons of growing cauliflower.
Growing Cauliflower: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Cauliflower Plants
If I convinced you that growing your own cauliflowers is indeed a good idea, it is now time to select the optimal site for your cauliflower growing project before you can start with the actual seeding process.
Do Cauliflower like Sun or Shade?
Even though cauliflowers like the sun to a certain extent, a mix between sun and shade usually works best for growing cauliflower in an optimal manner.
Consequently, I would suggest you search for a spot in your garden where your cauliflowers get a few hours of sunlight every day so that they can develop in a healthy manner.
What are the Soil Requirements of Cauliflower?
The soil pH for growing cauliflowers should be between 6.5 and 7. This means that the soil should neither be too acidic nor too alkaline (7 means neutral on the pH scale).
Hence, you will be just fine if you get potting soil from your local garden center and mix it with the soil in your garden.
If you engage in composting, you can also add some compost to the soil.
However, this is not urgently necessary and as long as you give your cauliflower sufficient space to grow, you will be just good to go with relatively low levels of effort you have to put into altering the soil.
How much Space do Cauliflowers need?
Although cauliflowers will not get too big in terms of height, they will still need significant space in the horizontal.
If you plan your cauliflower project right now, you should calculate around 10 square feet per cauliflower plant in your garden.
Of course, if you have a big garden and more than enough space, you can even give your cauliflowers more space to grow.
The more space your cauliflowers get, the better they will grow since they will get more sunlight and will also have access to more nutrients.
Therefore, the 10 square feet mentioned above should be regarded as minimum space for each plant and it would be better to provide your cauliflower with even more space.
Should you plant Cauliflower in a Pot or in the Garden?
While it is possible to grow your cauliflowers in a pot, I would not recommend you to do so.
The reason for this is that cauliflowers can get quite big and you will need pretty big pots.
Of course, if you live in a flat and just have a balcony instead of a garden, you will have no other choice than to grow your cauliflowers in a pot.
However, if you have a garden, I would definitely recommend you to grow your cauliflowers in your garden since they will have more space to develop in a healthy manner and it will make your growing experience easier in general.
2. Plant Cauliflower Seeds
Now that you got a good impression regarding the optimal site for planting your cauliflowers, it is time to go into details for the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Cauliflower Seeds or Seedlings?
While you can buy cauliflower seedlings in some garden centers, I would not recommend you to do so at all.
Even though it might be more convenient to just get your cauliflower seedlings from the garden center, it will just not be the same as growing your seedlings by yourself from scratch.
In fact, in my opinion, it is quite a lot of fun to grow cauliflowers from seed to harvest and if you buy seedlings instead of raising your own seedlings from scratch, you miss out on an important step in the overall growth process.
Moreover, by growing your own cauliflower seedlings, you can also learn quite a lot and can use this knowledge to also grow seedlings of various other plant types.
Hence, especially if you have never grown your own seedlings before, I would definitely advise you to do so now.
In fact, growing your own seedlings is not difficult at all and I give you all the instructions you need for it in the following chapters.
Thus, just stick with me and you will be just fine 😉.
Should you buy Cauliflower Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If you have never grown cauliflower before, you will just not have a choice other than just get your cauliflower seeds from the garden center or from an internet vendor.
It is also rather labor-intensive to produce your own cauliflower seeds from your plants and it can take more than one year until you will finally able to do so.
In fact, winning cauliflower seeds is for experts and requires plenty of knowledge.
Hence, for your own cauliflower growing project, I just advise you to buy cauliflower seeds from a seed company and you are good to go.
How to plant Cauliflower Seeds
Once you got your cauliflower seeds, it is now time to go into the actual growing process.
The first step you have to take is to fill your growing bed with potting soil from your garden center.
However, don’t fill it up to the top, leave around 2 inches in the vertical which we will use later on.
After you filled your growing bed with soil accordingly, just place your cauliflower seeds on the soil surface.
Make sure that each seed has around 5 inches of space to each other in every direction so that your seedlings will have sufficient space to grow in a healthy manner.
After you placed all of your seeds, just cover them with an additional layer of soil of around 2 inches of height. Finally, just water your growing bed on a regular basis and don’t let the soil dry out.
Also make sure that you place your growing bed on a bright and warm spot inside your home so that the seeds can germinate in an optimal manner.
However, note that although you might have done everything right, not all seeds will turn into seedlings.
Some will just rot in the soil and will never make it. Hence, you will have to plant more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
For instance, if you want to get 10 seedlings, I would recommend you to plant around 20 cauliflower seeds so that you can be pretty sure to reach your goal.
In fact, a ratio of 2:1 between seeds and required seedlings should be a good estimate to go.
If you really produce more seedlings than you need yourself, you can still give them away to your family and friends.
How long does it take to see the first Cauliflower Seedlings?
After you planted your seeds into the growing bed, it is now time to wait a little bit until you will see the first results.
Most of the time, it will take around one to two weeks until you see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
However, don’t be too worried if it takes a little bit longer.
After around one month, you should no longer expect to see any additional seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Hence, if you haven’t grown enough seedlings after this period of time, you may want to use some additional seeds and grow some additional seedlings.
How to protect your Cauliflower Seedlings
Since your cauliflower seedlings will stay inside for the first few weeks or even months, there will be not too much need to protect them.
In fact, if you don’t have any pets, you will not have to take any protection measures at all.
Just make sure that you place your growing bed at a warm and bright spot in your home so that your seedlings can grow in a decent manner.
When should you transplant your Cauliflower Seedlings?
After you gave your seedlings some time to grow and to become more robust, it will not take too much longer until you will finally be able to plant your cauliflower seedlings outdoors.
However, before you decide that it is the right time to transplant your seedlings outdoors, two main criteria should be met. First, make sure that it is no longer too cold outside.
Too cold means that temperatures still drop below the freezing mark.
In fact, cauliflower seedlings don’t like freeze at all and therefore, make sure that temperatures are high enough to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Second, make sure that your cauliflowers have a minimum size before you transplant them.
Outdoor conditions can be rough and in order to survive, your seedlings need a certain level of robustness.
I would advise you not to transplant your seedlings outdoors as long as they are smaller than 5 inches in height.
If both the size and the temperature criterion are met, it is now time to prepare your growing site before you can actually transplant your cauliflower seedlings.
If you want to grow your cauliflowers in your garden, just dig one hole per seedling of around 10 square feet in size and 1 foot in the vertical.
After that, mix the soil from your garden with the potting soil from the store and fill those holes.
After you filled your holes, you can just transplant each seedling on one spot.
When you are done with transplanting all of your seedlings, you just have to water them and you are done with this step.
Alternatively, if you want to grow your cauliflowers in a pot, just fill your pot with potting soil and transplant your cauliflower seedlings in the pot.
For both methods, make sure that you remove your seedlings carefully from your growing bed so that you don’t hurt the roots of your seedlings.
What kind of Protection do Cauliflower Seedlings need outdoor?
Once you transplanted your seedlings outdoors, they will no longer be protected by your four walls and will need some additional protection to survive.
In fact, there are many dangers waiting for your cauliflower seedlings outdoors and you should be prepared for them.
While you could use chemical substances to protect your seedlings, I am not a big fan of using those substances at all since they are pretty bad for our environment and also hurt the local flora and fauna.
Instead, I would recommend you to use a slug fence.
Slug fences are not only great to protect your seedlings from slugs, they are also great to deter several other small animals.
Hence, by using slug fences, your cauliflower seedlings should be protected against most attackers outdoors.
3. The Cauliflower Growth Process
Once you transplanted your cauliflower seedlings outdoors and protected them accordingly, most of the manual work lies behind you.
If you made it to this point, congratulations! I know that it takes plenty of time and patience to get to this point.
However, from now on, it will get easier since your seedlings will become stronger each day.
Yet, there are still some things to consider for the further growth process which I discuss in the following.
Should you prune your Cauliflower Plants?
While you could prune your cauliflowers and remove some leaves, I am not a big fan of pruning plants at all.
In fact, pruning can be considered as sort of unnatural interference with nature and this should not be the goal in gardening in my opinion.
Instead of pruning your cauliflowers, I would suggest you just let them grow in a natural manner and let nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Cauliflower Plants by Hand?
No, there is no need to pollinate your cauliflowers by hand. In fact, you don’t have to worry about the pollination of your cauliflowers at all.
Just let your cauliflower plants grow and you will likely see decent yields if you closely follow all the steps outlined in this article.
How to stake your Cauliflower Plants
Staking your cauliflowers can make quite a lot of sense.
In order to protect them against storms or other extreme weather conditions, it can make sense to tie your cauliflowers to a stick to stabilize them.
To do so, just use a bamboo stick and anchor it deep in the ground next to your cauliflower plant.
After that, just use some cord and tie your cauliflowers to those sticks.
Make sure that you make one tie for each half foot in height so that your cauliflowers can be stabilized in an optimal manner.
4. The Cauliflower Harvest
If you followed all the steps mentioned above in a proper manner, the time will come when you can finally harvest the fruits of your labor.
When should you harvest your Cauliflower?
As mentioned before, it should take your around 4 to 5 months to grow your cauliflower from seed to harvest as a beginner.
Hence, if your growing experience already lasts that long, you should come closer to the point where you can finally harvest your cauliflowers.
In fact, it is quite simple to determine the optimal harvesting time for cauliflowers since the crops will grow above the ground and you can see when the crops look like they are ripe.
You can just harvest your cauliflowers when they reached a certain size and look like the ones in your local grocery store.
If you are not sure whether it is time to harvest your cauliflowers yet, try to harvest one cauliflower and cook it.
You will soon realize whether it was the right harvesting time or not and you can harvest your other cauliflowers accordingly or wait a little bit longer if they still need some time in your opinion.
Over the course of a few years, you will get a much better intuition regarding when to harvest your cauliflowers.
Hence, if you haven’t figured out the optimal harvesting time yet, don’t be discouraged. You will get better over time since your level of experience will increase quite a lot.
How to store your Cauliflower?
While you can store your cauliflowers in cool, dark and dry places at your home for a few weeks, I would not recommend you to store them for too long since they will lose some taste and also precious vitamins and other beneficial components.
Hence, I would advise you to use your cauliflowers the days after you harvested them to get the most out of your crops.
What should you do with your Cauliflower?
There are several dishes you can use your cauliflowers for. While you can just roast them, you can also mash them or also try to invent your own cauliflower dish.
If you are a creative person, there are almost unlimited opportunities for what to do with your cauliflowers and I am sure you will figure out how to use them in the best possible manner.
Cauliflower Plant Care Tips
Now that you got all the step-by-step information on how to grow cauliflowers from seed to harvest at home, it is time to give you some general information that is still missing to make your cauliflower experience as optimal and enjoyable as possible.
How often should you irrigate Cauliflower?
Watering your cauliflowers is fairly simple. If you grow your cauliflowers in your garden and the soil is loose enough, excess water will just vanish through the soil into the groundwater and it will be almost impossible to irrigate your cauliflowers too much.
Especially on hot summer days, you should water your cauliflower plants on a daily basis.
Also make sure that you have someone who can water your plants in case you are on vacation. If you are not sure yet about when to watering your cauliflowers, you can also use a simple trick.
Just dig a small hole of about one inch in the vertical with your finger.
If soil sticks on your finger when you put it out, the soil is still wet enough and there is no need to water your plants.
If no soil sticks to your finger, the soil is dry and you should irrigate your cauliflowers pretty soon.
Over time, you will also develop a pretty good intuition regarding when it will be time to water your cauliflowers.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Cauliflower Plants?
This greatly depends on your preferences. While some people claim that it is best to water your plants in the early morning, I honestly haven’t seen any effect regarding when to water your plants.
In fact, in my opinion, it is better to water your plants when they urgently need it instead of relying on specific rigid times of the day.
How often should you fertilize your Cauliflower Plants?
Since cauliflower crops get quite big, cauliflower plants need plenty of energy to produce those crops. Hence, adding additional fertilizer can make quite a lot of sense.
In general, you should make sure that your cauliflowers have sufficient nutrients throughout the whole growth process and this means that you should fertilize them on a regular basis.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Cauliflower Plants?
In my opinion, you should not use chemical fertilizer but rather rely on natural organic fertilizer instead.
You can get this organic fertilizer from the internet or from your local garden center. Alternatively, just make your own natural fertilizer!
In fact, it is fairly simple to do so. You just need to collect some stinging nettles and put them in a bucket full of cold water.
Just wait for a few days, remove the plant material and you will have a completely natural fertilizer which you can add to your watering can.
By doing so, you ensure that your cauliflowers are fertilized in a completely natural manner throughout the year.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Cauliflower?
I would not advise you to use any chemical herbicides or pesticides for your growing project at all. In fact, those substances can be pretty harmful to many insects like bees.
Moreover, they are also not quite healthy and to make your growing experience as eco-friendly and healthy as possible, I suggest you rely on natural alternatives instead.
If you have already produced stinging nettle liquid as mentioned before, you will be indeed just good to go.
Stinging nettle liquid is not only a good fertilizer, it can also be used as pesticide.
You just have to spray some of the stinging nettle liquid onto your plants and you will be able to deter most pests since they simply do not like the taste at all.
Instead of using herbicides, you can just remove weeds by hand.
Thus, there is simply no need to use chemical pesticides or herbicides in your growing projects and you should rather rely on natural alternatives instead.
If you want to learn more about controlling cauliflower problems, also make sure to inform yourself about how to get rid of cauliflower pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
Thanks for reading my cauliflower grower’s guide until the end. I know my grower’s guides are pretty extensive.
However, to show you everything you need to know to grow cauliflowers from seed to harvest, I simply wasn’t able to make it much shorter without losing any important information.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If so, make sure to share it with your friends and on social media so that even more people can enjoy growing their own cauliflowers at home as well.
Also feel free to check out my other growing guides as well as my growing cauliflower 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.