Broccoli is a hardy vegetable that grows best in cool weather.

Spring Planting

In most areas there is not enough time to grow broccoli from seeds before the weather gets too hot.

Start seeds indoors 12 weeks before the frost date, or purchase transplants.

Transplants are ready when they have 4-6 true leaves. Harden off and transplant outside 6 weeks before the frost date.

If you live in a climate with hot summers and/or a short fall, choose varieties that mature quickly.

Fall Planting

Start seeds indoors 14 weeks before the first fall frost date, or purchase transplants (if available).

Transplants are ready when they have 2-4 true leaves. Harden off and transplant outside 9 weeks before the frost date.

The plants will mature more slowly in the fall because the days are shorter, but since they can tolerate freezing temperatures, you can continue harvesting after the first fall frost.

If you live in a mild climate with a late or no fall frost date (after Nov 1), you might be able to plant broccoli from seed and grow it all during the winter.

Soil and Fertilizer

Broccoli grows best in a rich soil; amend with lots of compost and fertilizer (chemical or organic) at planting and twice during the season.

Fertilizer: 16-16-8 at planting, 21-0-0 when heads are 1 1/2″ in diameter, and again after harvesting main head.


Harvest before the flower buds open, when they are still tight and the head is 6-10″. Cut off 6 inches of stem along with the head.

After the first harvest, fertilize and continue to water. Side-shoots will appear and produce several smaller heads.

Similar to: cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens

More Resources

Happy Gardening!

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11 Responses

  1. Emily MySFG says:

    Only if temps are still above 80F, if it is they won’t grow well.

  2. Cassie says:

    Is there any reason not to direct sow for a fall planting instead of starting seeds indoors?

  3. Emily says:

    I had the same thing happen, and I do think it was early warm temps combined with not transplanting at the right time.

  4. Melissa says:

    Same with my cabbage. I have beautiful flowers on my cabbage plants, but no cabbage.

  5. Melissa says:

    My broccoli plants are beautiful too, but no broccoli. I was very disappointed. I wondered if it was because it got hot so fast and I waited too long to transplant them. Bummer.

  6. Emily says:

    I had the same thing this year. I think mine was due to waiting too long to put the transplants in the ground.

  7. doug hicken says:

    I have beautiful brocolli plants but no brocolli. Any ideas?

  8. Emily says:

    By the time I harvested my third batch (the initial, large heads, then two harvests of side shoots), my broccoli plants were taking 4 squares each! I finally snapped off a few leaves that were hindering the growth of other plants. But usually it’s hot long before now, and my broccoli starts flowering and I have pulled it out already. This was a LONG winter and spring, so broccoli did great!

  9. Chris Johnson says:

    Yeah Emily’ right – my square foot garden brocolli isn’t even fully grown and it’s taking over the adjacent spaces! 1 per square foot max! 16″ would proabably work best, but this is SFG after all!

    My advise to use if plant the tallest veggies on the East side of your garden, and the shortest on the west side. This way all the veggies get sun in the after noon, even if the bigger veggies like brocolli are taking over the adjacent plots with their massive leaves.

    Best of luck!

  10. Emily says:

    Mel’s book says 1 per square foot (12″) but the seed packet said to plant every 16″. That is probably more accurate. I planted mine in the corner and as it got bigger it was encroaching on the two squares adjacent to it. As long as it’s fighting something else big (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) it’s not a problem. I’m still going to plant mine 1 per square foot this year.

  11. Leslie says:

    You say it took a lot of space. How much space would you say broccoli needs? I don’t see it on the Plant Spacing paper.