Growing broccoli in pots:
Introduction to Growing Broccoli In Pots:
Broccoli is an Italian vegetable having flowering top like our cauliflower. It belongs to the family of cauliflower and cabbage, but the only difference cauliflower has white flower top whereas broccoli has a green flower top. Broccoli can be eaten raw, or steaming or boiling, it has great flavor when it is microwaved or stir fried. Broccoli has great taste when cooked, but it has more nutrients when eaten raw and it loses its nutrients when cooked. Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins like A, C, and K, it is rich in dietary fiber that keeps your digestive system healthy. This article gives you the complete information about growing broccoli in pots.
Growing Broccoli in Pots is quite easy, it is a temperature resistant plants and can withstand the temperatures ranging from 5 degrees to 35 degrees. Broccoli is successfully grown in indoor and outdoor in containers. For growing broccoli indoor the temperature should be ranging from 18 to 24 degrees. The maturing period of broccoli is 50 to 80 days. It is a cool season plant, if you are planning to grow broccoli start the seeds before the rainy season. Broccoli grows well in a wide range of soils and use organic rich, well-drained soil. There are many varieties of broccoli available depending on their growing conditions, choose a suitable variety depending on your climate. Broccoli grown at home will give you fresh vegetable free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers and can save you some money.
- Scientific Name for Broccoli: Brassica oleracea.
- Broccoli belongs to the Family of: Brassicaceae.
- Common Name: Chinese Cabbage or broccoli.
Varieties of Broccoli for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
There are many varieties of Broccoli, their types can be differentiated by their shape and sizes of the flower head, harvesting period, side top growing, and disease resistance. If planning for container gardening, choose some early or mid-season varieties.
The broccoli we see in the supermarkets is not the only variety, there are many varieties of broccoli that are commercially grown, you must choose a good one. As a container gardener, you have many options that now found in the markets.
Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable and it has early and mid-season varieties. Early season broccoli varieties have harvesting period of 50-60 days from the day transplanting the seedlings, and the mid-season broccoli varieties have harvesting period of 60-75 days from the day of transplanting seedling. If growing from seeds the harvesting period can be increased 20 to 30 more days.
Broccoli grown for their long and tender shoots are called Sprouting Broccoli. These broccoli are used is used in stir fries.
A branching broccoli means instead of one central head top, these plants have multiple small heads these are called Broccoli Raab. These varieties should be when then shoots are tender and young before the bolting.
Chinese Broccoli: Chinese broccoli, is also types of broccoli, which smaller in size, darker green, grows very quickly. Chinese has a stronger flavor, and these plants don’t form any heads and complete plant is consumed.
Early Season Broccoli Varieties for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Blue Wind: it is the early season broccoli variety that has large and tight heads. And the harvesting period is about 60 days. It produces many number of side shots for a longer harvesting. And the light green tender leaves on the top of the plants have an amazing taste when cooked and these leaves are rich in vitamins.
- De Ciccoit is the Italian heirloom broccoli variety, it is the suitable broccoli variety for container gardening. This broccoli plant produces small headed broccoli followed by many side shots. And the harvesting period is about 48 days.
- Calabrese it is an Heirloombroccoli and the harvesting period is about 65 days. It is also a suitable plant for container, ideal season to grow is fall. These broccolis are medium-sized tops in a deep green color. This broccoli- plants have good side shoot production after harvesting center head.
- Arcadia is an early season broccoli variety and the harvesting period about 68 days. This broccoli plant produces uniform, small-beaded purplish-green heads throughout the harvesting period. These broccoli plants are resistant to cold temperature and best for growing in the fall and winter. These broccoli plants are diseases resistant.
- Gypsy it is a very early season varieties broccoli, harvesting period is 58 days. These broccoli plants have a strong root system and can grow even in poor soils. This variety broccoli has medium sized nicely-domed green heads. These broccoli plants have good side shot production and are temperature resistant.
Mid-Season Broccoli Varieties for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Marathon it is a midseason broccoli variety, and the harvesting period is 68 days. This plant is the best for fall and winter production in sub-tropical regions.
- Waltham 29 it is an open pollinated mid-season variety, and the harvesting period is about 74 days. These broccolis have blue-green heads, with many multiple side-shoots for a longer harvesting. These plants are cold tolerant and are ideal for early spring and fall production.
- Diplomat broccoli is in dark green color of size 10-15cm. And the harvesting period is about 68 days. These plants are diseases resistant and produces more yields in warm summer temperatures.
- Fiesta it is hybrid variety and the harvesting period is 65-75 days. These broccoli heads are well-domed heads, and these plants are stout with thick stems. These plants are not resistant to heat. The Ideal season for growing these plants sowing-late summer for a winter crop. These plants have limited side shot productions.
- Belstar broccolis are blue-green colored, tightly packed heads. These plant temperature resistant and grows well in all the seasons. Harvesting period is 65-75 days.
- Express broccoli has blue-green tight heads. Harvesting period is 75 days, it is the best mid-season broccoli. This variety produces a high number of side shoots.
Broccoli Raab Varieties for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Rapini is heirloom broccoli Raab variety, harvesting period is 65 days. It produces a multiple number of side shoots. These shoots turn blue when cooked.
- SpigarielloLiscia is a hybrid broccoli Raab variety, harvesting period is 45 days. This variety is also known as Italian leaf broccoli, these broccolis have a great taste when saluted.
- Sorrento it is an open pollinated broccoli Raab variety, harvesting period is 40 days. These broccolis are fast growing varieties. And produces large multiple heads.
Special Broccoli Varieties for Growing Broccoli in Pots:
Specialty broccoli varieties are Sprouting Broccoli. These plants produce long side-shoots rather than a large central head. These shots are harvested and cooked.
Side shots of broccoli are called Broccolini. There are many varieties of sprouting broccoli, below are some container grown varieties.
- Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli is an heirloom variety, harvesting period is 65 days. These broccoli plants produce bright purple broccoli shoots.
- Apollo is the best sprouting variety broccoli, harvesting period is about 60 to 90 days. These are best variety for spring and fall production. This broccoli is not resistant to high temperature, they turn bitter when temperature increases.
- Romanesco is an Italian broccoli variety, harvesting period 75 days. These broccoli heads are very beautiful glassy green color with a wonderful flavor.
- Santee is a Purple Sprouting Broccolis, these are large plants produces tender purple colored flowers with long green stems. Harvesting period is 115 days, grows well in cool season, and shoots turn bitter when grown in hot weather.
Propagation for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
Broccoli is a cool season vegetable, grown in the USA hardiness zones 3 to 9. Broccoli propagated from both seeds and the transplants. Broccoli is generally grown from the nursery grown transplants purchased from garden centers, horticulture shops or nurseries. And you can also collect the seeds from the plants and sow the seeds. Or seeds are available in all the nurseries stores.
Purchase the selected variety good quality seeds from a reputed dealer, Sow the seeds into the desired container in the fall or spring depending on the variety.
Growing from seeds is bit time taking process, growing from nursery plants is the best option.
Suitable Container Size /Pot Size for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
Broccoli grows well in all types of containers. The Ideal size of the container for growing broccoli, the containers should hold three gallons potting soil. The container with 3 gallons of soil gives sufficient space for the broccoli root system to expand.
The containers you select should be 8-10 inches in depth and 10 inches in diameter. Containers can be made of plastic, metal or clay. Plastic containers are best for growing broccoli, as they keep soil moist. Clay container are also used, but these containers will absorb water and makes the soil dry quickly. But clay container keeps the soil temperatures low.
Potting Soil Requirement for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Broccoli is a heavy feeder, it needs lots of nutrition for its green pigmentation. So, the soil should be capable of providing the necessary nutrients for the growth of the plant.
- Soil should be slightly alkaline and pH level of the soil should between 6.0 to 7.5.
- Use a fertile soil rich in organic matter and it should be well-drained. If planning to grow from gardening soil, select a good fertilize disease free soil, and mix it with natural or organic compost. And to increase its draining capability add perlite or vermiculite or river sand.
- Compost and soil should be mixed in the ration in 2:3.
- Instead of gardening soil, it is better to go for good commercial quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter and vermiculated. Make sure soil is well drained.
Sunlight Requirements for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Broccoli grows well in direct and indirect sunlight. Location of the container should have projection to direct sunlight. Vitamin D in sunlight keeps the plants healthy and produces nutritious top.
- Too much sunlight can also harm the plant, hard sunlight can wither plants.
- The plants need a minimum 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
Temperature Requirement for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Broccoli need, ideal temperature to thrive.
- Ideal temperature for broccoli in the container should range from 4°C to 21°C Degrees.
- Broccoli should be matured during cooler temperature, the ideal time to plant is late summer, so that it can mature in the spring.
- The broccoli plants don’t grow well, when the temperature goes beyond 25°C.
- Ideal temperatures for broccoli seeds to germinate should be around 24°C degrees.
Step-by-Step Procedure for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
Before you start growing broccoli in the container from seeds, make sure that the temperature is around 24 °C for quick germination of seeds. For sowing broccoli seeds, fill a seed starting mix in seed trays. Seed starting potting soil or soilless potting mix is the best option to sow seeds.
Now sow the seeds in a half inch deep, or just sprinkle the seeds and cover them with a thin layer of potting soil. And keep soil moist and wet constantly. Move the seed tray to outdoors, where it can receive direct sunlight for 5 to 6 hours.
Broccoli seeds take 10 to 15 days to germinate. During this period, if the afternoon sun is too high its better to move the seed tray to shade during mid-afternoons. Water the tray at regular intervals during the day.
When the seeds germinate and reach up to 2 to 3 inches, now it’s time to transplant. Get a containers 12 inch in diameter and with the same depth. The Container should big enough to give comfortable place to broccoli root system. And the container should have 2 to 3 draining holes. Cover the draining holes with a fine mesh or gravel to avoid dripping of soil and water logging. And then fill the container with potting soil, leaving 1-inch space between the surface of the soil and the rim of the container.
Transplant the seedling after 2 to 3 weeks of germination. For transplanting first loosen up the soil, and then gently dig the leaves very smoothly. And then pick the seedlings along with their young roots. Now plant the seedling in large container. After planting water thoroughly till it drips out from the draining holes.
Now don’t move container directly outdoor, first you need to harden up the seedlings. Take 2 to 3 days and expose slowly to complete sun. And water the plants at the regular intervals. Don’t make the soil dry.
After planting feed the plant with all-purpose balanced fertilizer once a month for a healthy and disease free growth. Using natural compost or compost tea once or twice in a month will make plant grow fast and give good yields.
Water Requirement for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Broccoli plants need lots of water to grow. Broccoli plants should be watered daily. So, maintain a regular watering schedule to water the plants.
- Water the plants before early hours before sunrise, at the midafternoon and after the sunset.
- Watering the plants before sunshine, will prepare the plants to beat with the heat.
- Plants need more water during hot afternoons, so watering them at noon is also very important. And after sunset, watering plants will help to reactivate the damages cells.
Fertilizer Requirement for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
- Broccolis are the medium feeders, they don’t need feeding if you are using potting soil. Growing a healthy plant will keep it away from the diseases and pests.
- Fertilizing the plants with an all-purpose fertilizer in a ration of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 will promote the growth of healthy plants with tasty tops.
- Don’t use a nitrogen rich fertilizer, as they are too strong and can harm the plants.
- Using natural compost, organic compost or compost tea will enrich the nutrients in the soil.
- This makes the stems and top more greener.
Pests and Disease for Growing Broccoli In Pots:
Broccoli plants are resistant to pests and disease when they are healthy. The common pests that can harm the plants are cutworms, cabbage worms, aphids and Armyworms.
Use organic fertilizers to control the pests and diseases.
Tips for Growing Broccoli In Pots: Below are some useful tips for growing broccoli in pots:
- Don’t harvest till the top gets fully mature. Average mature size of a broccoli head is about 5 to 6 inches depending on the variety you choose.
- If growing broccoli for their sprouts, collect them before repotting.
- If the broccoli is not planted at the right time, the plants start bolting (yellow flowers) before the top are harvested. So always plant them in a right season.
- The best companion plants for broccoli are beets, onions, potatoes, and other herbs. It doesn’t grow well with tomatoes, green beans, or strawberries.
- Broccoli stays fresh for more than a week fresh when stored in refrigerator.