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Broccoli Growing Guide

What’s So Cool About Broccoli

A true superfood, broccoli is packed with tons of nutrients. Broccoli is part of the brassica genus, relating it to turnips, rutabaga, radish, wasabi, kale, cabbage, arugula, collard greens, and kohlrabi. Being a hardy and versatile vegetable, it’s easy to grow for every type of gardener following a few simple growing tips. Part of the cabbage family, Broccoli can be grown in most USDA hardiness zones. While there are three types of broccoli that are commonly grown in the United States, the most familiar is Calabrese broccoli.

When To Plant Broccoli

Broccoli is cool-season crop, so it should be started in early to mid-spring for an early summer crop, or in late summer for a fall crop. Heat can affect the broccoli’s development, so the goal is to get broccoli to mature before or after high temperatures are expected. Broccoli seeds are capable of germinating in soil as cool as 40°F (4°C), but warmer soil is preferred and will greatly speed up development. For transplants, plant them 50-60 days before first fall frost.

For spring plantings, broccoli may be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date or outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before your last frost date. For fall plantings, sow seeds outdoors 85 to 100 days before the first fall frost, when soil and ambient temperatures are high.

Broccoli needs to be transplanted not direct seeded in the garden. Broccoli should be started in greenhouse or under a grow light. It normally takes 4-6 weeks to grow out a transplant from seed.

Did you know?

Broccoli is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. Broccoli is packed with vitamins C, K, and B9. The green power plant also has iron, potassium, manganese, and fiber, and has a high amount of protein for a vegetable at 3 grams per cup. Broccoli has properties that can help prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, and benefit your eye health.

Our Favorite Broccoli To Grow

Broccoli Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 30 to 36 inches

Plant Spacing - 12 inches

Planting Depth - Transplant at soil level

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing - 2 feet

Plant Spacing - 12 inches

Planting Depth - Transplant at soil level

Broccoli Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements To Grow Broccoli

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 7.0
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

If possible, plant where you have not grown related crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard, turnip, or rutabaga for the past four years.

Broccoli Irrigation Requirements

Broccoli plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your broccoli plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 7 Days (After 3rd Week Planting)

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe All Purpose and 1 tablet of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Alternate Every 14 Days

Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium Calcium Nitrate -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Broccoli Pest & Disease Protection


Organic Controls

Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Horn Worms, Cabbage Looper

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Monterey BT
Hornworms, Cabbage Looper

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Horn Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Diatomaceous Earth

Neem Oil
Whiteflies, Aphids


Bug buster II
Aphids, Horn Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Cabbage Looper

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Complete Disease Control (Drench)
Pythium Damping-Off

Liquid Copper Fungicide
Black rot, Alternaria, Downy Mildew

Garden Phos
Pythium Damping-Off, Downey Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Alternaria


Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide
Alternaria, Ring Spot, Leaf spot, Downey Mildew

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Broccoli

Harvesting Broccoli

To harvest, use a sharp knife to remove the central flower head. Cut the stem at an angle to prevent rot. Leaving the broccoli plant in the ground encourages side shoots (flower heads) to develop. Although smaller than the central head, these side shoots allow gardeners to continue harvesting broccoli for a longer period of time.

When To Harvest Broccoli

The edible part of the broccoli plant is the unopened flower. Ideally, the central head should be harvested when it’s fully developed, but before the individual buds open into small, yellow flowers. Signs which indicate broccoli is ready to harvest include a 4- to 7-inch (10 to 18 cm.) tight head with large, dense flower buds. If the buds begin to open, harvest immediately.

Storing and Harvesting Broccoli

To maintain the quality of fresh-picked broccoli heads, it’s recommended to harvest during the cool, morning hours and refrigerate as soon as possible. Unwashed broccoli heads can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Blanched broccoli freezes well and maintains its quality for up to 12 months.

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Broccoli Growing Tips & Tricks

Best and Worst Companions Crops

Broccoli is a heavy-feeder, so avoid planting crops near your broccoli that compete for resources. These include strawberries, peppers, eggplants, watermelon, squash, mustard, and cauliflower. The best plants to grow with broccoli are cucumber, lettuce, radish, spinach, shallots, chard, beets, and onions.

Watch the Water

Mildew can cause yellow spots on leaves if there is moist weather, so try to keep leaves as dry as possible and avoid watering the heads. Do not get developing broccoli heads wet when watering, as it can encourage rot.

Not Just the Heads

The heads of the broccoli are not the only useful part of the plant. High in nutrition, the broccoli leaves can be sautéed, stir-fried, or added to soups. Use them as you would other leafy greens like spinach, kale, or chard.

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