Growing Brussels Sprouts

growing Brussels sprouts on a stalk

Brussels sprouts form on the trunk of the plant from buds that grow between the stems.

Growing Brussels sprouts requires cool weather. The ideal climate is the “fog belt” of the Pacific Northwest, but they will grow in just about any part of the country. A slow-growing, long-bearing crop, Brussels sprouts should be planted in early spring, or mid- to late summer for a crop that matures in the fall. The small heads mature best in cool and even in light frosty weather. Spring planting is also fine in cooler climates. Be aware that sprouts maturing in hot or dry weather will be flimsy and bitter. Brussels sprouts belong to the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Brussels sprouts plant growing in garden

Brussels sprouts plants look much like a cabbage, a close relative. As plants grow upward they form big leaves on long stems.

Like most vegetables, Brussels sprouts need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily; more is better. They like fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. The soil pH should be on the high side of the range for vegetables, about 6.8, for optimum growth and to discourage clubroot disease.To be sure about pH, get the soil tested. You can buy a test kit at a well-stocked garden center, or have a soil test done through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Apply fertilizer and lime using the results of the soil test as a guide.In the absence of a soil test, incorporate plenty of nitrogen-rich amendments to the soil. These include blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure. Or, work a timed-release vegetable fertilizer such as 14-14-14 thoroughly into the soil before planting. Or you may choose to fertilize with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Plants love the liquid feeding.Brussels sprouts also need more boron than most other vegetables. Boron is a plant nutrient used in minute quantities by all plants; without it, Brussels sprouts develop hollow stems and small buds. If your plants have shown these symptoms, you can add boron to the soil by dissolving 1 level tablespoon of borax (such as 20 Mule Team from the grocery shelf) in 5 quarts of water and sprinkling it evenly over 50 square feet of bed. DO NOT be tempted to mix more, because too much causes problems. Also, do not apply unless your plants have shown the deficiency symptoms we just mentioned.

Brussels sprouts plant stalk with buds and leaves cut away

Cutting away the leaves makes it easier to reach sprouts that are ready for harvest.

Set plants at the spacing on the Bonnie label. Brussels sprouts get large, so they need to be about 18 to 24 inches apart in a row or bed. If planted in rows, space rows 30 inches apart to give yourself enough room to walk. Don’t let seedlings sit around for long, dry out, or get stunted in their pack. Plant right away.

Water thoroughly after planting to encourage good growth. Mix in some Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food, or a starter fertilizer solution of fish emulsion or 20-20-20 mixed according to label directions. Mulch to keep the ground cool and moist. Water regularly, applying 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water a week if plants don’t receive enough rain.


Brussels sprouts plants growing in field with buds on top of plant

Buds form first near the bottom of the plant on the central stalk and continuing forming up to the top of the plant.

Insects that attack Brussels sprouts include harlequin bugs, cabbage loopers, diamondback moth, imported cabbageworm, cutworms, cabbage maggot, thrips, and webworms. Aphids can be especially difficult to control. Plants can also be bothered by powdery mildew and rust.

Harvest and Storage

Brussels sprouts in hand are ideal size

These big sprouts are an ideal size. Depending on weather and growing conditions, yours might not get this big.

Sprouts first form at the bottom of the plant and continue forming toward the top for several weeks. Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest when the tiny heads are firm, green, and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Remove sprouts by twisting them until they break away from the plant. As you remove the lower sprouts, you can also remove yellowing leaves; the plant continues to grow upward, producing more leaves and sprouts. The plant will withstand frost and can be harvested until a hard freeze strikes. The best-quality sprouts are produced during sunny days with light frosts at night. As winter approaches, you can trick the sprouts into maturing all at once by cutting off the top of the plant about 3 weeks before you want to harvest.One full-sized, healthy plant can bear 2 to 3 pounds of sprouts. They come quickly at first but will slow down as the weather gets colder. Once a sprout is picked, new ones will not form in that spot. Full-grown sprouts keep well on the plant in cold weather, making them a great winter harvest item for gardeners in the South (planted in fall). In cold climates, gardeners often bury Brussels sprouts plants up to their tops in hay or leaves in late fall, then pull off the little sprouts as needed through winter.

Store fresh, unwashed sprouts in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Fresh sprouts taste best, though, so try to limit refrigeration to a day or two.


Where do I look for the sprouts on the plant?

The sprouts are borne up and down the stem.

How can I get my sprouts to mature at the same time?

If you cut 6 inches off the top of the plant, then they will all be ready to harvest in three to six weeks.

Why do my sprouts form loose, not tight heads?

Sprouts that develop in hot weather (in spring or during a warm fall) often do not form compact heads.

How do I know when to pick sprouts?

Harvest sprouts when they measure 1 to 2 inches in diameter and are firm, like tiny cabbages. The ones at the bottom of the plant will mature first, but some gardeners cut the top out of the plant to encourage all the sprouts to mature at about the same time.

Why do my sprouts taste bitter?

Sprouts turn bitter when they have been left on the plant too long or if the weather is hot when they mature.

84 thoughts on “Growing Brussels Sprouts

  1. Hi Danielle! I live in Nashville, tn, and planted my b. sprouts in march, maybe mid march. They are growing nicely, but I’m not seeing any Brussels yet. It’s getting into the 80′s now, but we are still having moderately low temps at night. I’m worried that its getting too warm now and they will not turn out. Is this probably the case? Also, I fertilized with time release when I planted, should I also use a liquid fertilizer? Thanks for your help!!

    • Hello Deborah,
      Let’s think positive! Weather has a way of playing tricks in the veggie garden – sounds like your Brussels have about another month to go. Since Brussels are a long season crop, it is probably time to follow up with a liquid fertilizer. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

  2. Hi! I got one brussels sprout plant this year just to see how it’d go — this is my first year attempting to grow any vegetables, so it’s a trial run! I think I planted my little guy in a pot that’s too small — the plant is about 10″ tall by 10″ wide at this point, and the pot itself is only about 10″ wide and 10″ deep. There are 2 leaves on the very bottom of my plant that are going yellow, I assume that means it’s pot-bound! :(

    I read that brussels sprout roots are shallow… but now that I’m looking at pictures, those leaves go out very wide — do the roots also go out wide to match the leaves? So do I need to get a wider pot for my plant? Will re-potting at this point damage my plant? And if I do re-pot to a wider pot, should it also be deeper or is 10″ an okay depth?

    • Hello Jenn,
      Not sure how long your Brussels have been planted, but at this point, I’m not so sure I would repot it. It is not uncommon for older leaves to turn yellow. Remove them from the plant. Leaves yellow when they need fertilizer, when they are old, and for many reasons. In the future, plant them in a pot about 18 inches in diameter. A 10 – 12 inch depth is just right. If you want to use a bigger container, you can do that to – and combine veggies or veggies and herbs :) – danielle, Bonnie Plants

      • Thanks for the reply, Danielle! My brussels sprouts plant has been planted for a couple of months now. Will the smaller pot mean that the plant’s growth will be stunted, and will it effect the sprouts at all?
        Thanks for all the info, I really appreciate it :)

        • Hi Jenn,
          It is always best to plant in a larger container than you think you may need when it come to veggies. The biggest problem you may have is the frequent watering as the roots take up the space in the container. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

  3. If Brussel sprouts are a winter crop in the south, why are you selling them in all all the Lowes, Home Depots etc. Knowing they will not do well until the fall/winter season? Isn’t that kinda misleading your customers?

    • Hello,
      You are right, Brussels sprouts grow better in the fall than in the late summer / spring Southern areas. There are many gardeners, though, who do not garden in the fall and have luck with Brussels in the spring. This was actually a good year for a spring crop because of the late, long winter. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

  4. I live in Atlanta and on a whim planted some brussel sprouts at the beginning of April. How long does should it take for them to mature? I’m concerned I planted them at a bad time and they may be bitter. If that’s the case I may just pull them out and try again later, but I don’t want to dump them if there’s a chance they’ll be ok.

    • Hi Joanna,
      Brussels sprouts are a long season plant – about 85 to 95 days until maturity. Yes, they can be grown in the spring…but they do taste better when grown in the fall…especially after a frost :) The South had a surprise late winter so many of the cool season veggies were planted later…and warm season veggies planted later. Let’s hope the temperatures do not warm up too quickly :) – danielle, Bonnie Plants

  5. My Brussels sprouts fell over after about 3 weeks and are still growing but the first 2-3 inches are lying on the ground. is there a way I could fix this or should I just let them keep growing that way?

    • Hi Nathan,

      You can let them keep growing that way, there is not much you can do about it unless you tried to stake it. They do keep growing when they fall over (top heavy plant), but may not prodcue as well. I have had plenty of crooked plants :) -danielle, Bonnie Plants

  6. I planted my sprouts at the wrong time of year, the weather will be too warm. Any suggestions to help make my community plot look less embarrassing this year, and maximize outcomes?

    • Hi Susan,
      If you let me know what region you are gardening in, I will get you a planting chart for the area. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

      • Danielle, I just bought the Long Island variety and am now wondering if it is too lard to plant. We live in south eastern Massachusetts. Is MA a cool enough climate to plant now?

        • Hi Carolyn,
          Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are planted in April – late April / early May for a Spring / Summer crop in the region. The weather has been very funny this year! In fact, I am a month behind in my own garden because of the late winter I had. Hoping it doesn’t warm up too quickly so I can enjoy some of the harvest! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  7. Hello ! I am new to growing brussel sprouts…I have several plants, but my tallest has already gone to seed…Do I cut the blooms? and will anything grow from there or is it too late? How do I get my other plants not to get to this point? I understand that these are annuals, so I’ve missed out on the tallest plant. Is there hope for my others? I live in Southern California near the coast… thanks!

    • Hello Manette,
      Brussels sprouts do not normally produce ‘sprouts’ if they have started to flower. You can try, though, by pruning off the flowers as soon as they appear. Flowering (going to seed) is also called bolting. Bolting can occur in spring and early summer when cool-season crops are subjected to warmer temperatures and longer days. Hoping the weather remains in your favor for a great harvest! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  8. I had brussels sprouts in my lunch the other day and my students and co-teacher had never seen them before. I’m a Pre-K/K teacher in Okinawa, Japan. So, we want to grow some Sprouts if possible this winter. It’s humid but in the winter it should be great.

    Thank you for all of the information here. Your replies to questions made my questions moot!

  9. Hi!
    I live in Charlotte, NC and I have very happy-looking Brussels Sprouts growing in my first garden. I have seen a few friends grow them and not get any sprouts because our summers get really hot – so I’m wondering if I can harvest the leaves… just to have something yummy to eat in case they don’t make sprouts. Will periodically harvesting only the outer leaves have a terribly huge effect on later production.
    Planted March 12th, now April 24th – about 2 feet high with hand-size, delicious-looking leaves.
    Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi Haley,
      You can harvest and eat the leaves! It is common to remove the lower most leaves as you harvest from bottom to top. If you are only periodically going to harvest a leaf – start at the bottom. If the weather does heat up quickly and you do not get to harvest the Brussels sprouts, replant again for a fall / winter harvest! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  10. A friend brought me 30 brussel sprout plants he dug from his garden. The plants all had good root balls, stalks about 15 inches tall, healthy leaves and tiny pearl size sprouts. I planted at ground level, 18 inches apart, watered well. I live in Deep South Georgia , do you think the sprouts will mature?

    • Hi Annie,
      I hope they do! It’s a wait and see, it’s warming up quickly for these cool season veggies. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  11. We planted brussel sprouts last spring from seed. The plants grew really well last summer and on through the winter. However, I am not sure if I should cut them back or let them continue to grow. We haven’t gotten any “sprouts” yet, just big green stalks, about 15 inches high. We live in Maryland, and it will get pretty hot soon. I was thinking that we might get something off of them this fall. Please advice, thank you!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Have your Brussels sprout plants flowered? Brussels sprouts do not normally produce ‘sprouts’ if they start to mature in the summer heat. Seeding in Maryland is often done in mid summer for a cool fall harvest. If the sprouts have not flowered, a harvest is still possible. The summer temperatures may have played tricks on them, though. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

      • No flowers, now they have ends that look like broccoli. Should I cut them back and see how they grow thru the summer, and hope for something come the fall? Or would you leave them alone?

        • Hi Sarah,
          If you would like, send a picture to Bonnie Plants Ask an Expert site. If it looks like the part of the broccoli that we eat – that is unopened flowers. If you can, pictures are great! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  12. I live in Las Vegas and have a little veggie garden (10×5) that I am trying to get going. I have a brussel sprout plant that was planted in November. It’s growing really well but I don’t have sprouts yet. Summer is approaching (yikes!) and I am worried that I won’t have sprouts before the inferno arrives. Do you have any suggestions to speed up the process or should I just wait and watch?

    • Hi MK,
      At this point you are on a wait and watch approach. What was the winter like there this year? Warm or ‘up and down’ temperatures will play a number on cool weather veggies. Youcan trick the sprouts into maturing all at once by cutting off the top of the plant about 3 weeks before you want to harvest, but this is only if you already sprouts on the plants. Good Luck!
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  13. Hello, this is our first time growing brussel sprouts. Our plants are about 30 in. across with the biggest leaves. Between each level of leaves there are the tinest bunches of leaves that look like they are trying to form a sprout, but is incomplete. Finally at the top of each plant, is a flowery type sprout that looks likes a broccoli flower. We live in Concord, Ca and planted these last Oct. 2012. We planted broccoli and cauliflower and they turned out great. We also planted cabbage, and they are just now forming a tiny type leaf ball in the middle of each plant. So I suppose in a month or two, we should have a real cabbage to eat. I’ve looked on the internet at what a brussel sprout plant looks like and our plants are a mystery. What do you think we have growing in our garden. Thank You for your help.
    Michelle Kephart-Brown

    • Hello Michelle,
      Sounds like your Brussels Sprouts are starting to flower. It will look very similar to broccoli – they are in the same family. If you have the Brussels sprouts starting to form in the leaf axils, they may not completely form now that the plant is going to seed. Temperature is one of the most common causes of loose leaves instead of compact heads. Did you have a warm Fall or a warm Winter? You can also upload a picture to our Ask an Expert site so we can get a better look.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  14. I am in the Florida panhandle zone 8b, tried brussel sprouts in my raised beds this past 2 fall/winter seasons. The plants grew well, but produced very small dime size sprouts . I trimmed the leaves as they the sprouts began to form as many suggest, even cut top off a couple plants to see if that would produce larger sprouts but did not. What must I do different for larger sprouts.

    • Hi Larry,
      You may try pulling off the leaves after you pick the mature Brussels Sprouts. They are harvested from the bottom to the top of the plant. As you pull the early maturing sprouts (bottom), remove the leaves below it – working your way up as you harvest. Leaves are the energy makers of the plant and shouldn’t be removed too early. What types of fertilizers did you use? Brussles sprouts can be somewhat heavy feeders, much like cabbage.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  15. I live in eastern North Carolina and I planted bs for the 1st time. For some reason my plants don’t seem to be growing. There are small sprouts on the plant but they don’t look like they ready to eat. Any suggestions?

    • Hello Chris,
      How long have the Brussels sprouts been planted? They are a long season plant and may take 3 months until harvest. The Brussels sprouts will not mature all at once, rather you will harvest from the bottom up.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  16. What are the little green/gray bugs that accumulate around the sprouts? I noticed them at harvest (november) here in central ohio. they are very small, about 1/10th of an inch with soft bodies that are easily squished when handled. They don’t seem to be doing any damage but they are disgusting and need to be washed away. What is the organic remedy for these little nastys? I use only natural remedies.

    • Hello Dave,
      You may have seen aphids on the sprouts. This management guide from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has a lot of pictures of Brussels sprout pests or you may upload a picture to our Ask an Expert system. A lot of times aphids can be washed away with a strong spray of water. Insecticidal soaps, found in most home gardening departments will also work. Follow the label directions.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

    • What about releasing some ladybugs in your garden? I hear they have a voracious appetite for aphids. Most nurseries (and home depot) will have ladybugs (hatched or eggs) available around this time of the year.

      • Hello MK,
        Buying and releasing ladybugs is one way…but you can invite them to your garden naturally as well as other beneficials. Most living organisms want the same thing: food, shelter, and water. We can do this by incorporating herbs and other flowers in our gardens to offer nectar and pollen. Beneficial insects need a place to stay and a place to hide. Planting around the garden for pollinators is a great way to introduce them naturally to your garden. Here are tips on making your garden beneficial (ladybug) friendly.
        -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  17. We are growing Brussel Sprouts (for the first time) in the Pacific Northwest and had a great fall/winter harvest. We are still picking sprouts off the stalk and now it’s starting to grow new little heads again! Do we leave it in the ground like a perennial? If so, should we cut it all the way back to start a new stalk? Or should we pull the plant and start a new plant? We had such great results with these little guys I would love to grow them again.

    • Hi Kim,
      Glad to hear about your success – the Pacific Northwest is the perfect climate. Brussels sprouts are grown as annuals, so you will be planting a new plant next time.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  18. Hi Mary Beth,

    I live in Baltimore, MD and I think I am in climate zone 32. According to your wonderful descriptions, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts grow best in cool climates, but Baltimore is anything but cool in summer. When should I plant cauliflower and Brussels sprouts here? Have I missed the time? Should I consider growing them inside? Please help! I really want to grow these, but it’s my first time planting these veggies and I’m unsure how to do it. ~Claire W.

    • Hi Claire,
      These are recommended as fall crops where you live. Read this from University of Maryland regarding Brussels sprouts. They are also sweeter and have great flavor in Fall after a slight frost. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  19. I have two things happening with my brussel sprouts. (How can I post/send a picture?)

    1. Just a tight head growing at the top of the plant.
    2. Several heads competing for top spot, with several loose leaves (heads?) along the stalk.

    I am in WV. The weather is definitely cool here. The plants are getting 8+ hours of sunlight.

    The plants produced big leaves in the spring, then fell off. And now the loose leaves on top and the stalk for the fall/winter.

    I am so puzzled!

    • Hi Sara,
      You can send a photo to us via the Ask An Expert site, which goes to our Cooperative Extension partners who answer questions. Or, you can private message a photograph via our Facebook page. (or post on our wall publicly). Other commenters have successfully posted a link to their photobucket accounts here, if you have one of those.
      I have heard of one other gardener experiencing a similar oddity this year. We thought that it might be mistakenly labeled and originally Morris Heading Collards, or an anomaly plant that has one large sprout at the top. Does it have the sprouts in the leaf axils too? If not, I think you might have gotten a cabbage that was mislabeled. If you have a fair coming up anytime soon in your area, you could enter it as a giant Brussels sprout and easily take first place! Let us know…~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

    • We’re having the same thing happen to our brussel sprouts! it looks like a giant brussel sprout on top. We’re going to cook them up and eat them. I’ve sent pictures to “Ask the expert” . Curious to see what they make of it.

      • I wanted to add that the plant did produce sprouts all along the stem as they would normally in addition to the giant one on top.

      • Thanks for submitting the photo. You are the third or fourth person that say that on this forum. I’ll ask our Expert to share the photo with me, as we’re all curious. There are “heading” collards that look similar, but that doesn’t sound like what you have. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

    • Hi Richard,
      I sent your question to our Ask An Expert service to see if there was any additional hint or help to pass along, besides just answering “no” to your question. Here’s the word: No, it is almost impossible to keep a greenhouse cool enough to grow Brussels Sprouts. Even if you could, it is not economically feasible because it would require so much electricity to do so. The small heads mature best in cool and even in light frosty weather. Spring planting is also fine in cooler climates. Be aware that sprouts maturing in hot or dry weather will be flimsy and bitter. So, hopefully you live in a place with cool or cold winters and can attempt them in Fall. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  20. We live in the Central Coast of California (Goleta). We farm on sandy soil half mile from the ocean. Never had frost and rarely temperatures get too hot except for a couple of week in the Summer. We’d like to grow Brussels sprouts year round for our family, friends and some charities that we donate to. Any ideas and tips will be very much appreciated.
    You have created a wonderful place to get accurate information, thank you.

    • Hi Farmer Israel,

      Brussels Sprouts prefer cooler temperatures (which makes for a sweeter brussel sprout). If you would like to grow them during the hot summer months without them bolting I would be sure that they were in a place that would get 5-6 hrs of sunlight (morning) then get shade the rest of the day. This will help them stay cooler and prevent bolting. If you cannot find anywhere this is possible, you can build a shade house and leave them in it all the time. Be sure not to over water to avoid any root diseases, and to fertilize accordingly. ~ Freeman at Bonnie Plants

  21. I am trying to grow brussels sprouts, but last year they did not turn out. I had great leaves and healthy looking plants up to 2 feet tall and about 18 inches around, but no sprouts – none at all. I live in Houston and am trying to grow them during the winter as it rarely freezes here. Is there something you recommend or is it just too warm here for sprouts? Thanks.

    • Hi Mitzi,
      You are growing them in the right season for your area, as it’s just too hot in spring/summer. They do not like temps above 70 degrees. This article gives you more growing advice, while this overview from Texas A&M gives specific advice for your Texas area. It will be tougher for you, but not impossible. Also, our Ask An Expert service recommends this for you: “If the soil is very sandy, the addition of organic matter will help tremendously. This will increases the soils ability to hold water, something that brussels sprouts need consistently.

      Weather can come into play too. If temperatures start to go above 70/75 degrees early, sprouts may form very loosely or not at all.

      Another thought, is they need nitrogen and boron to produce good solid sprouts. I recommend performing a soil test. You can get a soil test kit from your local extension office. The results tell you what soil amendments you need to make to grow the best crop possible. Brussels sprouts also need more boron than most other vegetables. Boron is a plant nutrient used in minute quantities by all plants; without it, Brussels sprouts develop hollow stems and small buds. If your plants have shown these symptoms, you can add boron to the soil by dissolving 1 level tablespoon of borax (such as 20 Mule Team from the grocery shelf) in 5 quarts of water and sprinkling it evenly over 50 square feet of bed. DO NOT be tempted to mix more, because too much causes problems. Also, do not apply unless your plants have shown the deficiency symptoms.” Hope this helps. Let us know! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  22. I have trimmed off some leaves and mixed them with leaves from brocoli, cauliflower, kale and swiss chard and had a tasty pot of assorted greens. Are the leaves of the brussel sprout plant necessary for the development of the actual brussel sprout?

    • Hi Douglas,
      That sounds wonderful! We constantly remind folks they can eat the leaves of these cole crops but not all believe us. If you make another pot, post a photo to our Facebook page to share with other gardeners. The leaves on Brussels sprouts are typically removed as you harvest the small heads, moving from the bottom to the top. If you are removing the accompanying leaf by each harvested sprout but leaving the ones on top and the very top foliage intact, it will be enough to provide energy for the plant. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  23. My brussel sprouts are doing well here and I was hoping to serve some on Thanksgiving. The weather forecast for next weekend is lows of 20 degrees. I have read two different things about cold hardiness of brussel sprouts. One said hardy to as low as 14 and the other said hardy to 25 degrees. Which is accurate? Should I try covering them before the cold weather comes?

    • Hi Mary,
      I think your Brussels will be wonderfully served at your Thanksgiving table! Such a proud moment to serve your family what you have grown, isn’t it? Brussels are very cold hardy — in the group of those veggies that take the most chill – but it would be a good idea to cover with a light frost blanket. This article can help with the basics if you don’t already have cloth or know how to cover. Another link from the Extension office at Purdue sheds light on this, too. We’d love to see photos of your Thanksgiving Brussels on our Facebook page. We share successes, tips, questions and contests there. Join the fun. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants


  24. Hi Mary Beth. We have a interesting brussells sprout plant in our garden. The other plants in the garden appear normal and have new sprouts growing on the stalks (where they belong) but this one plant is very different. This plant has smaller buds on the stalk than the other plants but has formed an enormous bud on the very top that looks remarkably like a cabbage. It is about the size of grapefruit and completely solid (not leafy). What is this? Is this a strange genetic throw back to it’s cabbage parentage or is this actually a giant sprout? I can sent you a picture if you are interested. Please help if you can. We are very curious.


    P.S. In any case, we will be eating it, what ever it is.

    • 50 years ago when I lived in MN we had the same thing happen. No Brussle sprouts, but a small cabbage on top. It tasted like a cabbage and we thought there might have been some cross pollination

  25. I live in south AL. The night temps drop to 45-55 degrees in mid October. If planted in late August, how long does it take for the plant to begin maturing.

    • Hi Robert,
      The variety of Brussels sprouts that we grow takes about 95 days to mature. If planting in fall with shorter day lengths, you might add an extra week or two. Come back in a bit and tell us how it’s doing, or better yet, show us photos on Facebook! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

      • Howdy fellow South Alabama brussel sprout grower/s!
        My first year trying out growing brussel sprouts and planted them in containers on October 7th. Kept looking for any signs of sprouts. Nothing that I could tell were starting. I didn’t know what to look for and thought the plant tag must have been swapped out for collards. As what I thought were collard starters turned out to be cauliflower! So found this site and saw what to look for. Low an behold I have itty bitty sprouts starting! I’m so excited! Now with the cold snaps getting closer and the temps dropping some I hope they keep thriving! I’m eager to see what your plants look like! I’ll get a picture tomorrow in the daylight and post mine.

      • Hi Carol, It doesn’t hurt to try, right? You may be right on time or a little late for your area. Extension agents and gardeners in South Alabama recommend transplanting in the garden by October, but you may have bought a little time with the warmer weather and longer fall. Brussels sprouts are very cold tolerant and taste better after a cold spell. Read about that here. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  26. I live in Massachusetts and the brussels sprouts plants are doing great! I notice that little sprouts are forming all along the main stalk at the base of each big leaf. I understand the big leaves are edible. Will it hurt the sprouts to pick the big leaf before the sprout has grown big enough to pick? Thanks for your answer.

    • Hi Vicki,
      Congratulations on your sprouts! That is an exciting plant to grow and looks so impressive in the garden. Yes, you can eat the leaves. Use them like you would kale or cabbage. Some gardeners actually remove the lower leaves as they move up the plant to encourage larger sprout growth. Or, you can harvest sprouts individually as they reach 1 or 1 1/2″ inch in size (starting at the bottom) and remove the nearby leaf when you do. Be sure to eat within 2 or 3 days from picking, as the freshness and flavor begins to deteriorate in the fridge quickly. Let us know how they turn out! Join our Facebook page to share recipes and photos, too. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  27. Hi Mary, Love your website ! just looking at storing options for my brussel sprouts ! — freezing ?? and the “how to’s of doing that ” I’ve learned several things already by reading your blog here, thank you very much !!! My plants look great, but want to blanch them and freeze them. First time ever I have a very nice crop. YEA !!! IM so excited. Do you freeze yours ?

    • Hi Robyn,
      We love to see you here! And congratulations on a bumper crop of Brussels. That is so exciting. I think you should eat them fresh until you turn green. ;) Roasted Brussels sprouts from your garden are light years better than what you find in the freezer section of the store. And to freeze what you can’t eat now, you’ll quickly blanch them. This instruction page from University of Illinois Cooperative Extension shows you how easy it is. Yeah! Glad you are excited! Share photos on our Facebook page. We have a lot of fun sharing pictures, recipes and reader tips online. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  28. This is my 1st year at growing Brussels sprouts and as I read through the questions I know I have made a lot of mistakes.
    I will attempt to grow them again next year but for now…My sprouts are small and not very firm. Is there any thing I can do to save them now? Some mistakes I have made this year..
    planted too close, not staked correctly, I didn’t check the soil, I could go on but why.

    • Hi Gerri,
      Don’t despair! A large part of gardening is trial and error and learning what works in your area with your soil & climate and how to improve each season. Brussel sprouts will tend to have loose or open heads if they form in warmer weather. The trick is to plant them at a time when they’d be maturing into tiny heads at the ideal temperature. If you live in an area with mild Falls and an extended growing season, you might be able to try them late summer to mature during the chilly temps of late Fall. Keep it up! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  29. We’re having a heat wave here in OH & I fear my sprouts will be bitter as they are starting to head now. Is there something I can do? Perhaps brining to remove bitterness or should I just remove the plants & try again next year?

    • Hi Cindi,
      I turned to another cooking resource and read online about cooking practices you may use to remove the bitterness (if your fears are confirmed! Maybe not). It seems that your palette and taste for bitterness may actually be within your DNA; people perceive the potential bitterness differently. As you suspect, cooking in salted water will remove some of this. Here’s a link to a food FAQ article in an Ohio paper that explains it in more detail. And congrats on growing your own! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  30. WHEN, in Memphis, TN, is the best time to plant brussel sprouts? It gets above 80 within a month after last frost, gets above 90 within 8 weeks after last frost, and stays predictably in the 90′s until at least mid september. Though my feed store sells your brussel sprouts here in the spring, it never seems to work out… And since they don’t sell the brussel sprout plants in the late summer/fall, I assume it’s because they won’t grow in the heat of August…. but our fall SEEMS like the only time they’d have a chance! What’s best down here for timing/planting? I’d REALLY LOVE to grow some brussel sprouts, darn it!

    • Hi Cissy,

      Planting dates should be around the same time as you’d plant cabbage. For you area, July 15th to August 15th are the recommended planting dates for cole crops. You should be able to find our plants in your area this fall. It’s a little late, but I’d go ahead and plant them and hope there is no early cold weather this fall. I hope you get those Brussels sprouts you’re after! Happy growing!

      Kelly, Bonnie Plants

    • Hi Kathy,
      Sprouts perform best when they can mature in slightly cool weather. As we state in our How to Grow article here, “The small heads mature best in cool and even in light frosty weather. Spring planting is also fine in cooler climates. Be aware that sprouts maturing in hot or dry weather will be flimsy and bitter.” Are you in a region with dry, hot weather currently? ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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