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Brassica oleracea (Italica Group)

'Broccoli' is a plant in the Brassica (Mustard) genus with a scientific name of Brassica oleracea (Italica Group). The botanical name epithet for Broccoli (oleracea) means 'eaten as a vegetable'.

Broccoli is a popular vegetable, grown for its large edible flower head that closely resembles the closely related cauliflower .

Broccoli is considered a cool-season crop (like spinach) – grown in the spring or autumn. However, if you stagger your planting and your harvesting, you may be able to harvest all year round, as side-shoots may develop after harvesting the first head6. Additionally, hybrids are available that tolerate warmer weather, to allow year-round harvesting as well.

Broccoli is quite nutrient-dense, and is a good source of vitamins A and D6

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Banana yellow. Leaves appear approximately as a   Hooker's green colour. It is a flowering edible vegetable / herb that typically grows as an annual, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of a single year. Broccoli is known for its clump-forming habit and growing to a height of approximately 75.0 cm (2.44 feet). Popular varieties of Broccoli with home gardeners are De cicco, Calabrese, Packman, Green sprouting calabrese and Waltham 29.

Broccoli needs a moderate amount of maintenance, so some level of previous experience comes in handy when growing this plant. Ensure that you are aware of the soil, sun, ph and water requirements for this plant and keep an eye out for pests.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Broccoli have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Broccoli

  • Full Sun

    OR +
  • Partial Sun

  • Medium

Apply fertilizer to developing seedlings beginning when the first true leaves appear. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting. Use starter fertilizer for transplants and side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are half grown 6.

Water regularly – broccoli requires large amounts of water. Both dry soil and waterlogged soil reduces yields. Some varieties of broccoli are heat tolerant, but all need consistent moisture. Do not get developing heads wet when watering 4.

Mulch well to control weeds and to regulate the soil temperature.

The roots are very shallow, do not cultivate around your planting – suffocated weeds with mulch instead 4.

Monitor for insect and disease problems.

Many broccoli varieties are prone to bolting in hot weather.

Handle transplants carefully, control cutworms and avoid low temperatures to avoid damage to the terminal growing tip. Most Broccoli varieties grow best when temperatures are not too hot or too cold. Purple sprouting broccoli is a hardy variety which is planted in the spring or summer for harvest the following spring.

Ideal brassica crop rotation is to only grow them once in every 3 years in the same plot. Good preceding crops are onions and potatoes, or various (non-cruciferous) green manures, such as clover or ryegrass 5.

Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun / partial sun and remember to water moderately. Zone 3 to 10 are typically the USDA Hardiness Zones that are appropriate for this plant (although this can vary based on your microclimate). Ideally plant in loamy and sandy soil and try to keep the ph of your soil between the range of 6.2 and 7.2 as Broccoli likes to be in weakly acidic soil - weakly alkaline soil. Keep in mind when planting that Broccoli is thought of as half hardy, so remember to protect this plant from frosts and low temperatures.

See our list of companion Plants for Broccoli to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Broccoli from seed

Sow indoors 2-3 weeks before your last spring frost, for spring planting. For autumn planting, sow 85-100 days before your first expected frost 4.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 5.85 inches (15.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.51 inches (1.3 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 10°C / 50°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Broccoli about 45 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Broccoli

Can be station-sown direct, but for best results should be raised in seed bed and transplanted when big enough to handle. Transplant broccoli when seedlings have second set of leaves.

Ensure that temperatures are mild (minimum night temperatures should be around 7°C / 45°F) and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Broccoli is a half hardy plant.

By our calculations*, you should look at planting out Broccoli about 21 days before your last frost date.

Harvesting Broccoli

Harvest broccoli when the flower shoots are well developed, but before the flowers themselves have opened.

Seed Saving Broccoli

Broccoli will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. 2 Some early broccoli will flower in the first year. Remove whole plant and hang to dry. 3
Seed viability is three to five years.

Common Broccoli problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Broccoli plants:

Downy mildew: Yellow patches on leaves are usually caused by moist weather. Keep leaves as dry as possible with good air circulation. Buy resistant varieties. 4

Nitrogen deficiency: If the bottom leaves turn yellow and the problem continues toward the top of the plant, the plants need a high nitrogen (but low phosphorus) fertilizer or bloodmeal. Apply at planting, after the main head emerges, and after the main head is harvested 4.

Clubroot: Quickly wilting plants may be due to this fungus in the soil. The entire plant, including all roots and root tendrils, must be gently dug up and removed. If the roots are gnarled and misshapen, then clubroot is the problem. Act quickly to remove the plants so that the fungus doesn’t continue to live in the soil. Do not compost the plants. Raise the pH of your soil to above 7.2. You may need to sterilize your soil, too.

Hollow stem: A boron deficiency. If the plant grows very fast, and there is not enough boron available, the cells will lack elasticity and break, thus forming a hollow stem 5.

Side shoots: This is due to heat stress 5. Side shoots divert energy and resources away from the main head, but this may be desirable for some gardeners.

Bracting: The covering leaves grow through and distort the broccoli head (or “curd”), disfiguring it 5. This is caused by heat stress and/or water stress. Some varieties are more susceptible than others.

Cat eyes: Premature opening of small yellow flower buds 5. Some varieties are more susceptible than others.

Flea Beetles 4.

Aphids: Curling leaves may mean that the plant’s sap is being sucked by insects. Apply soapy water to all sides of leaves whenever you see aphids 4.

Cabbage loopers: Small holes on the leaves between the veins mean small green caterpillars are present. Look at the undersides of the leaves. Hand pick if the problem is small or control with Bacillus thuringiensis. Use a floating row cover just after planting through harvest to prevent caterpillars 4.

Cabbageworm (the larval stage of the white cabbage butterfly) and other worm pests: a common problem. Handpicking may control a light infestation. For organic control of a more serious infestation, Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad can be used. Treat same as loopers 4.

Whiteflies 4

  • Browning

    Browning is a symptom of Boron deficiency that occurs in Broccoli.

  • Hollow Stem

    Nutrient deficiency that affects Broccoli. Hollow Stem can be caused by excess nitrogen fertilization, especially during warm weather (no internal discoloration); or boron deficiency (dark brown internal discoloration) .

  • Premature blooming of Broccoli

  • Broccoli buttoning

    Broccoli "Buttoning" can be caused by nitrogen deficiency, cold temperature shock to young transplants, drought stress or other factors that markedly restrict vegetative growth

  • Ricing

    “Ricing” may occur from excess nitrogen and high temperatures combining to favor very rapid growth.

  • Cabbage Worm

Other names for Broccoli

Calabrese, Purple sprouting broccoli, White sprouting broccoli

Brassica oleracea, Brassica oleracea var. italica

Misspellings: Brocoli, Brocolli, Broccolli, Brassica oleracea var. italica, Broccoli, Brassica olderacea italica, Brokoli

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