Broccoli Plant Growing, Close - upThe broccoli plant growing stages are probably at the forefront of your mind, if you have a new broccoli plant in your garden. Moreover, it can be difficult to grow broccoli if you haven’t done it before.

After all, broccoli is not as common of a vegetable to grow as other vegetables like tomatoes.

In our article, our vegetable experts will explain just how broccoli grows and how you can get the best tasting broccoli in your home garden! 

What Are the Stages of Broccoli Plant Growth? 

The stages of broccoli growth are germination, seedling, vegetative growth and maturation. Read on to find out how you can follow your broccoli’s growth step by step. 

– Germination

Germination is the first step in the broccoli life cycle. When broccoli germinates, the seed wall breaks open and the shoots, which will eventually become the root and the stem, emerge. Germination begins with the root and stem emerging from the seed underground and ends with a small seedling with a few baby leaves on it.

– Seedling Stage

Seedling broccoli is small and has a few adult leaves, and it’s also the second part of the broccoli growth stages. Over a period of weeks, the broccoli will develop a main stalk and branches around the main stalk. The seedling stage is over once the broccoli is at a juvenile stage – it has a root system and a few leaves. Now, vegetative growth really picks up. 

– Vegetative Growth

Here, the broccoli plant grows the most. Broccoli grows to be about two to three feet tall, but less wide if it’s around other plants. Alone, however, broccoli grows two or three feet wide too.

During this time, the broccoli head may remain small. Why, you ask? Well, the plant is ensuring that it will have enough leaves that can provide enough energy for the head to grow later in the season. This requires a lot of energy, and that means a lot of leaves. 

– Maturation

During this phase, the broccoli shifts its energy into producing its flower – also known as, your head of broccoli. The broccoli head starts off as just the size of a quarter. But, it will slowly grow and mature with time. Your broccoli is ready to harvest when there is a large head of broccoli in the center of the plant’s main stalk. 


– When Should I Plant My Broccoli? 

Depending on your climate zone, plant broccoli in the summer or in the early spring or fall. In places with mild summers which are under 75 F, you can plant broccoli in the summer. In places with summers hotter than 75 F, plant in the early spring or fall.

Broccoli can handle cold temperatures, frosts, and mild snows! However, it cannot handle temperatures above 75 F. The early spring planting should be up to two weeks before the end of the last frost. 

Growing broccoli doesn’t have to be hard. It is easy if you know the right steps to take that suit your climate and needs. 

– Should I Plant Broccoli Inside or Outside? 

You should plant broccoli seeds indoors eight weeks before you move them into outside garden beds. You can plant them in a mixture of potting soil, vermiculite, coconut coir or peat moss. 

The containers they are planted in should have a drain hole at the bottom and be placed in a raised-edge dish, like an aluminum foil casserole pan. 

A miniature greenhouse by a window is a great idea. A small heating pad underneath a seed tray will keep them warm as well. The crucial thing is that the temperature needs to be warm enough to germinate the seeds, about 80 F. 

Growing broccoli in low-risk environments like these increases the rate of sprouting and will help the plants develop strong leaves and root systems. 

Remember, tiny broccoli plants are delicate. It is not recommended to start broccoli outdoors because it is a cold weather crop. If you plant broccoli seeds into a hot garden, they will die. They will also die in weather that is too cold. 


– When Should Seedling Broccoli Be Moved Outdoors? 

Your seedling-size broccoli should be moved outdoors when they are about three inches tall. There are two major points to remember when transplanting your broccoli seedlings outdoors: space and moisture. 

Broccoli plants need a lot of room to grow adequately. This amount of room ranges from 12 inches to 24 inches apart. When broccoli plants are planted far enough apart, they will grow faster, larger, and create bigger heads of broccoli. If they are too close, they will bolt faster and not make as large heads of broccoli. 

It’s hard to believe that such small plants can grow into large leafy vegetables, but it’s true. They may not seem large now, but they will grow from just three inches tall to over two feet tall in two months. 

– How Should Broccoli Be Spaced in a Garden? 

Broccoli plants should be spaced in a garden so that they have enough room to spread out once their crowns grow very large. If you have a raised garden bed, plant seedlings close to the outer edge so their leaves can shade the edge of the box. That frees up some more space to plant broccoli in the middle of the raised bed. 

If you’re growing broccoli in rows, consider planting your seedlings in a zig-zag pattern as opposed to in a straight line. Dig holes for the seedlings on the edge of the row. Broccoli plants grown in a zig-zag pattern are less likely to crowd each other out. They will produce larger yields too. 

– Does Broccoli Need Fertilizer? 

Yes, broccoli requires nutritious soil with readily available nutrients. Fertilizer can help you achieve great soil quality that will help your broccoli plants thrive. 

Luckily, many fertilizers that work well on broccoli plants are available. They range in type and price so there is an option for everyone. Fertilizers that you can use include vermiculite, organic fertilizers, seaweed or fish meal, and compost. This is especially important if you have nutrient-depleted or weak soil. 

Adequate watering is another extremely component of growing broccoli. Broccoli plants require about one and a half inches of water per week. Don’t think that you can just water and be done, though. Broccoli is finicky!

Check the soil around your broccoli plant daily. If it looks and feels dry, water. Avoid watering the growing head of broccoli. Why? Broccoli heads can retain water and may actually rot if they don’t drain properly.  

– What Does the Harvesting Stage of Broccoli Growth Look Like?

Depending on the variety, the harvesting stage of broccoli growth is different as it takes anywhere from 48 to 115 days for broccoli to mature. So, you should check your seed packet and watch your broccoli carefully for signs that it is ready to harvest. 

Harvest your broccoli once the crown top of broccoli is about the size you’d see in a grocery store. To harvest, take a sharp knife, grab the top head of the broccoli, and cut away the stem at the base that connects it to the plant. 

And that’s about it! You now have your own head of broccoli. However, please don’t dig out the plant just yet. 

The central stem may produce a few more miniature broccoli heads over the next few weeks. You can pull those off manually or use a small knife to remove them from the central stock. Go ahead and keep it and see how much broccoli you can get out of one plant.

Usually, the plant will be done after about two or three weeks after the main broccoli top is cut off. If you reach the two-week mark, the top gets yellow, or the plant begins to die, it’s safe to throw it out. The broccoli has lived its lifespan to completion. 

– How Do I Get Broccoli Seeds? 

You can get broccoli seeds by letting a few broccoli heads flower and pollinate. The tiny broccoli head will turn yellow. Yellow flowers will form and the broccoli will no longer be edible. 

Once they pollinate, they will produce seeds that you can harvest. The seeds will be small, so you should keep that in mind! You can keep them in a cool, dry location until the following year. 

– How Does Broccoli Bolt? 

Broccoli bolts when the veggie blooms into a flower and pollinates itself. Most farmers skip this step because it tends to destroy the broccoli for human consumption. So, we only suggest you try this if you are a very experienced farmer or gardener.  


Healthy young broccoli plant growing in gardenGrowing broccoli is a great beginners’ introduction to cold weather crops – depending on where you live, you can grow broccoli from November to February! Moreover, here are the most important points we discussed in our articles:

  • The broccoli life cycle has four steps: germination, seedling stage, vegetative growth and maturation. 
  • Plant your broccolis a foot or two feet apart depending on how much space you have for each plant. 
  • Broccoli enjoys cold weather, including frosts and mild snows. 

Broccoli is a delicious, nutritious vegetable that can be cooked and enjoyed in many ways. Understanding the growth process is crucial to getting this vegetable from the seed packet and onto your plate.

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