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A Simple Guide for How to Plant Broccoli Seeds

Ever wonder how to plant broccoli seeds? Here’s the thing. Making a home-cooked meal is excellent, but making a meal with ingredients you grew yourself is even better. True, the grocery store might have everything you need to get the job done, but is there anything more magical than harvesting your ingredients straight from your home garden or greenhouse? We grew broccoli in the greenhouse last year and are also ready to harvest our current seedlings at the cabin. Boy, did I learn a thing or two from my first two seasons of growing this nutritious and delicious vegetable?

Like any other type of gardening endeavor, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research. Going in blind can make things complicated. Fortunately, you’ll be able to learn everything you need to know right from this article, meaning you’ll be ready to start planting in no time.

Let’s get started.

How to Plant Broccoli Seeds Indoors

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When learning how to plant broccoli seeds, it’s important to remember that there are multiple methods you can try. If it’s the right time of the year then planting your seeds outdoors is a great option. However, that won’t always be the case. 

​Broccoli seedlings will do best in cool weather, with an ideal range of 65 to 75 degrees. Any temperatures outside of this range can injure your plants. Still, if the growing season hasn’t quite started yet, that doesn’t mean you have to wait. In fact, growing edible plants indoors can actually help you get ahead of the competition.

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You can start growing your seedlings indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. A decorative planter will work in a pinch, but I’d recommend using seedling trays instead to maximize your available space.

Placement near a south-facing window where the seedling can get six hours or more of direct sunlight is ideal. However, if that’s simply not feasible, you can use a grow light setup instead to ensure the lighting needs are met.

How to Plant Broccoli Seeds Outdoors

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If you want to learn how to plant broccoli seeds then the perfect place to start is with timing: what time of year is best? Well, as mentioned, broccoli prefers cooler temperatures (more on that later). As such, you first want to ensure that the weather is ideal for proper growth.

After that, you need to make sure you have the proper soil choice for the task. Choosing a well-drained soil is a must. Shoot for a soil pH level of 6.0 to 7.0. Using a soil test can help you assess your current options. Lime is useful for raising the pH level, while sulfur can help lower it to an appropriate level.

how to plant broccoli seeds

I also recommend adding plenty of mulch to the area a few weeks ahead of planting. This will put necessary nutrients into the soil and also help the soil retain moisture. Broccoli needs moist soil to prosper.

Whether you’re planting directly in the ground or using a garden bed, you’ll also need to consider light exposure and spacing. Seedlings should get 6+ hours of sunlight per day at minimum, spaced 18 to 24 inches apart to allow for growth.

How Long Does It Take?

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Assuming you plant your broccoli seeds at the right time (which is either early spring or mid-to-late summer), you can expect your broccoli to go from seeds to harvestable treats in anywhere from 80 to 100 days.

Generally, the seedlings will start to germinate within the first seven days. The vegetative stage lasts 45 to 65 days from planting, with the plants growing larger and growing leaves. Once this period is over, the flowering stage begins.

The flowering stage is the one we care about, as you want to harvest the broccoli after the heads have grown thick (but before the flowering starts). Your seed packet should give you an idea of how big the heads will get. Once they’re about the right size, you can harvest the broccoli.

The Best Time of the Year for Planting

how to plant broccoli seeds

I’ve already somewhat gone over it in this how to plant broccoli seeds post, but—for all you skimmers out there—here’s the simple answer. When is the best time of the year for planting broccoli? Well, you have two options: spring and summer.

Spring plantings are ideal for indoor growth, as you can sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks early indoors. You should figure out when your last expected frost date is, and plant according to this. Once the period has passed, you can move your plants outdoors.

If you prefer to grow this cool-season crop later in the year then mid to late summer is ideal. Doing so will mean that the broccoli will be ready for harvest in the early fall. Since—with the outdoor approach—you’ll be growing your broccoli entirely outside, this fall crop is relatively easy to get ready.

The Growing Process

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Let’s go over the specifics of how to plant broccoli seeds. Bear in mind that varieties of broccoli may work better with different approaches, so I always recommend looking at the specific requirements of the exact type of broccoli you’re trying to grow. With that in mind, here’s what to do.

First, make sure you’ll be growing your broccoli in an area with direct sun exposure. Sufficient sunlight is key to growing healthy broccoli. Remember, you want at least six hours of direct sunlight per day for the best results!

Sow your seeds, either outdoors or in a seedling tray, half an inch below the surface of the soil. Space them out about 3 inches apart if you’re starting outdoors. If growing indoors, you can keep them in the seedling tray until they’ve reached about 3 to 4 inches tall. 

At this point, you can transplant them outdoors. You’ll still have to re-space them if you started by growing them outdoors, though. Once they begin emerging from the soil, space them out to the aforementioned 18 inches apart.

how to plant broccoli seeds

Give your broccoli plenty of water. I find that using a watering can works best for this, as it allows you to precisely direct the water. This becomes important during the flowering stage. At that point, you’ll want to avoid watering the heads directly, as they can retain lots of water (potentially leading to rot).

Aim to give your broccoli about one inch of water per week. This will keep the soil moist and promote growth. If you’re struggling with soil that’s drying too quickly, adding some mulch can help solve this issue.

With a bit of patience and persistence, your broccoli should be ready to harvest in anywhere from 60 to 100 days.

How to Harvest Your Broccoli

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Finally, the fun part: harvesting! Around the 60 to 100-day mark, you’ll notice that the broccoli has formed heads. Once these are firm, closed, and have grown to their maximum size, your broccoli is ready to harvest. Refer to your seed packet if you’re unsure how large the main head is supposed to grow.

You’ll know you’ve waited a bit too long if the broccoli heads start to open into yellow flowers. Letting a flower head blossom will ruin the taste of the broccoli, giving it a bitter taste. If you see this starting, be sure to harvest right away!

You can cut off the main head using a sharp knife. Your plant will then begin to grow side shoots, also known as secondary heads. If the weather remains cool for long enough, you may even be able to harvest these smaller heads as well.

Broccoli Storage Solutions

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Alright, so you’ve learned how to plant broccoli seeds, run the young plants through the entire process from start to finish, and now you have a bountiful harvest on your hands. Trouble is, you’re not going to be able to eat it all right away. So, what should you do with it? Well, storage is the obvious answer, but it’s important to store it the right way.

Washing your broccoli right away might seem like a good starting point, but don’t do this. It can make the broccoli waterlogged, leaving you with rotting veggies in only a short amount of time. Instead, freeze the broccoli you’re not planning on right away.

To freeze:

  • Cut the broccoli into bite-sized chunks
  • Blanch in boiling water for 120 seconds
  • Throw the broccoli chunks into ice water
  • Drain and dry the chunks
  • Seal them in a plastic bag, then
  • Place them in the freezer

When properly frozen, broccoli is good for up to a year in the freezer. On the other hand, if placed directly into the fridge, broccoli is only good for about three to five days.

Potential Problems

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Unfortunately, like any other type of planting project, you might run into a few hiccups along the way. The main two culprits fall under two categories: pests and diseases.

Aphids are fairly common, but they can easily be removed with a bit of soapy water. Caterpillars like cabbage loopers can also pose an issue. Fortunately, you can usually solve this issue by simply removing the caterpillars. For more intense infestations, however, treatment may be necessary.

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You can use a Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) spray to treat your broccoli. Just bear in mind that this spray will harm more than just the pesky pests you’re trying to get rid of. It will harm other caterpillars and beneficial insects as well, so try to keep your applications to a minimum.

Disease is a bit harder to prevent, as there are many different diseases that can affect your broccoli. Rotating crops—along with following the best practices—can usually prevent diseases. If your plants do get diseases then I recommend doing your own research to determine a.) what the disease is, and b.) the most effective, non-damaging way to treat it.

Now You Know How to Plant Broccoli Seeds!

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Broccoli might not be one of the most beautiful plants around, but it is one of the tastiest. Now that you know how to plant broccoli seeds, you can easily add this one to your home garden selection, opening up a bunch of new opportunities for fresh recipes down the road.

So, are you planning on planting your own broccoli seeds this year or are you going to stick to the store-bought heads instead? As always, let me know, and be sure to share your own gardening journeys in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

FAQs About How to Plant Broccoli Seeds

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What is the best way to sow broccoli seeds?

Sowing your seeds indoors is a great way to get a head-start on the growing season. Of course, growing them entirely outdoors will work as well. Either way, make sure to place your seeds a quarter of an inch down into the soil and keep up on the watering schedule as your plants grow.

How many broccoli seeds do you plant in one hole?

Although one seed per hole will do, I find that using three or four per hole is best. This gives you better germination rates, resulting in plentiful, healthy broccoli.

What month do you plant broccoli?

This cool season vegetable should be planted in the spring or in the fall, depending on when you want to harvest. However, if you want to get a bit of a jump start on the growing season, you can start the broccoli seedling inside along with the rest of your indoor greenery. Just remember to transplant them when they outgrow their seedling trays.

Should broccoli seeds be soaked before planting?

Nope, you can actually just sow the seeds directly into the soil. No soaking required.

Is broccoli hard to grow from seed?

Not at all! Broccoli is one of the easier vegetables to grow, making it an excellent addition to any home garden.

Does broccoli like full sun or shade?

Avoid shade! Broccoli generally needs six hours of full sun per day to grow properly, unless you’re in a particularly hot climate.

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