University of Maryland Extension

Broccoli

healthy broccoli

  • Hardiness: Hardy biennial (plant that requires two growing seasons to complete its life-cycle) but treated as an annual.
  • Planting: Start seeds indoors for early spring transplants. Plant seed in beds or flats for fall transplants or direct seed into garden. Sprouting and raab broccoli are sown directly into the garden in spring. Follow seed packet directions for spacing. Full sun, requires direct light at least 6 hours/day; prefers 8 - 10 hours/day.
  • Days to maturity: 55 - 65 from transplanting, longer for fall crop.
  • Spacing: 16”- 24” in-row x 24” - 30” between rows.
  • Fertilizer needs
  • Approximate yield (per 10-foot row): 4 to 6 lbs.
  • Common Problems:

Planting and Care of Broccoli 

  • Broccoli (from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage") is a plant of the cabbage family, Brassicaceae.
  • There are four types of broccoli: heading, Romanesco, sprouting, and raab.
  • The heading type, which is closely related to cauliflower, forms a large central head. The heads of broccoli are really flower buds that must be harvested before the flowers open or show yellow. Mature heads measure 3 to 8 inches across. Smaller, lateral heads develop after the central head is cut.
  • The spiraling heads of Romanesco broccoli are quite dramatic.
  • Sprouting or Italian broccoli forms many florets or small heads, but these do not produce a solid head. Broccoli raab is not a true broccoli but a type of turnip (Brassica rapa) cultivated for its flower head.
  • Broccoli is planted in spring for June/July harvest and in summer for a fall harvest.
  • Five-to seven-week-old transplants are set out four weeks prior to the last frost date in spring. Temperatures below 45°F may inhibit heading or encourage seed stalk formation (bolting). Transplants for fall planting can be produced along with cabbage and cauliflower transplants, taking about 4 to 6 weeks from seeding to setting into the garden. Seeds can be sown directly in mid-July for a fall harvest or transplants are set out by the first week in August.
  • Fall broccoli often produces higher yields than spring plantings in the mid-Atlantic region. 
  • Watering - Keep the root zone moist by watering deeply and regularly during dry periods.  Water more frequently when heads begin to develop.
  • Weeding - Broccoli has a relatively shallow, fibrous rooting system. Cultivate carefully or use a thick mulch to prevent weeds.
  • Fertilizing

Harvesting Broccoli

  • Cut large terminal bud clusters before flowers open, then cut small side bud clusters as flowers develop over the following weeks. Harvest with 6 to 8 inches of stalk.  

Storage and Preservation 

  • Store in very cold (32 degrees F), moist (95% RH) conditions, 10 to 14 days. Broccoli can be blanched and frozen.

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