Light requirements: Full sun for best yields, but plants will produce in part shade.
Planting: Space 10 to 24 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.)
Soil requirements: Broccoli needs well-drained, nutrient-rich soil to produce enough leaves to fuel head formation. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.
Frost-fighting plan: Established plants tolerate hard frosts to temperatures as low as 26º F. It’s a good idea to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts by covering plants with a frost blanket.
Pests to watch out for: Cabbage loopers and imported cabbageworms are common broccoli pests. Other problems include cabbage root maggots, aphids and flea beetles.
Common issues: Broccoli forms the best heads when temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees. Excessively small heads result when plants experience prolonged low temps (40º F or lower) or high temps (above 80º F). Keep an eye out for cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Susceptible to black leg, black rot, clubroot, and yellows.
Harvesting: Homegrown heads are often smaller than those found at the supermarket. Judge harvest time by bud tightness, not overall head size. Cut heads that are large and fully developed with tight buds. Once broccoli buds start to crack open, stems and buds lose their appealing texture, becoming mealy and even woody. To harvest, cut stems just below heads. Allow plants to remain in place; buds along stems and side shoots will form smaller heads perfect for salads and stir fries. With baby broccoli, pinch the main head when it reaches 1 to 1.5 inches in size, then harvest the smaller heads that will result once they reach 6 to 7 inches long.
Storage: Refrigerate unwashed heads in a loosely closed plastic bag. Never store broccoli in air-tight containers. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within two to three days, but heads will store up to 10 days.
For more information, visit the Broccoli page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 27
- Carbohydrates: 6g
- Dietary fiber: 3g
- Protein: 2g
- Vitamin A: 24% DV
- Vitamin C: 84%
- Vitamin K: 138%
- Folate: 21%
- Calcium: 3%
- Iron: 3%
This vegetable packs such a huge number of nutrients important to health that it is hard to find a condition that it would not benefit. Powerful phytonutrients in this vegetable have been studied for their positive effects against cancer, for stomach health, cataract prevention, strong bones, etc. Researchers recommend that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables should be included in the diet several times a week. One study has shown how broccoli and tomatoes work as a team in the diet to fight prostate cancer.