Growing Broccoli in Containers – The Simple and Easy Way

When should I plant broccoli seeds? How long will it take for broccoli to be ready for harvest? How do I care for a broccoli plant?

Should I even attempt planting my own broccoli at all?

Of course you should!

Those delicious miniature trees shouldn’t intimidate you, because the process of growing broccoli in containers is child’s play and your reward will be well worth the non-struggle.

Let’s answer your questions and show you how simple it is to do. 

Things you should know before getting your hands dirty

Before we start digging in those soils and growing your own broccoli in containers, it is important to know some facts about it first:

What are the broccoli plants stages of growth, and what are the ideal conditions for each stage?

Broccoli growth can be summarized in four stages:

  • Seed germination
  • Plant development
  • Early flowering tops
  • Development of flowering tops, or “heads”

Seed germination involves the sprouting of the seeds you’ve planted.

Broccoli seeds can germinate in soils that have reached a temperature as low as 40°F or 4.5°C and as high as 85°F or 29°C, but at this stage keeping them at a temperature of 80°F or 26.5°C is ideal if you are growing them indoors.

It will take from 4 to 7 days for the seeds to germinate.

After the seeds have sprouted, the seedlings will take between 3 to 4 weeks to grow, gradually forming a baby broccoli plant and thereby reaching the plant development phase.

The broccoli plant will begin to develop its roots and first few leaves in an ideal temperature that ranges between 60°F to 65°F, or 15.5°C to 18°C. 

Seedlings can be transplanted outdoors after reaching 6 weeks old.

During the early flowering tops phase, you’ll notice that the stalk and leaves will grow prior to the actual flower top.

You can transplant the broccoli to a pot or garden bed outside, preferably when temperatures have reached between 60°F and 65°F, or 15.5°C and 18°C.

It is important that the soil remains moist during this phase, as it will allow the plant to absorb all the nutrients it needs for a healthy development. If necessary, also remove weeds.   

In the last phase of the flowering tops’ development you will see how the flowering tops grow.

They’ll be ready for harvest once they’ve reached 4” to 8” in diameter and their tops display compact green buds.

Side shoots may appear on the sides of the plant too, but they will grow to be around 1” to 2” in diameter.

If you are interested in saving seeds for using in the next planting season, allow for broccoli plant flowering so you are later able to collect its seeds, like this video below:

For those of you who are wondering how to grow broccoli from stalks, you should know that unlike other vegetables and fruits, broccoli does not grow from its stalk.

How tall does broccoli grow?

You can expect a broccoli plant to reach about 2.5 feet, or 76 cm in height.

How much water does broccoli need?

Although some broccoli varieties are heat-hardy, they all require humid soil to stay healthy and grow to their full potential.

Therefore, it is important to water your broccoli 2 to 3 times per week. 

If you are interested in rain harvesting, don’t forget to read our list on the best rain barrels for smaller homes.

Do you need to fertilize broccoli?

When it comes to providing the right nutrients for your plant, the only broccoli fertilizer guide you really need is to set some time aside to carry out two fertilizing sessions.

The first session should take place 3 weeks after transplanting the seedling, and the second session should be 3 weeks after the first.

In total, you should be adding organic fertilizer just twice before they are ready to harvest.  

How long does broccoli take to grow?

This will largely depend on climatic conditions, the given care, as well as the broccoli variety that you decide to use.

Generally speaking, however, they will mature anywhere from 50 to 70 days after planting.

Harvesting broccoli

To harvest broccoli simply use a knife to cut off the heads around 5” to 8” below the base. Check out Northwest Urban Farmer’s short video to see how it’s done!

How to grow broccoli sprouts indoors

The steps to growing broccoli sprouts are simple, the materials needed few, and the benefits that you can get out of including them in your diet many - from preventing signs of premature aging to slowing the progression of chronic disease, and boosting heart health.

Watch Whole Life Nutrition’s 2 minute video to see how to grow broccoli in water – sprout-style!

For those of you who wish to grow more food than you can actually fit at home, take a look at our articles on the benefits of backyard aquaponics and DIY aquaponics systems.

Note that broccoli itself happens to be a superb antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic.

Broccoli benefits include protection from chronic disease and skin damage, and an improvement in bone health.

If you are looking for some inspiration in turning these delightful little trees into tasty works of culinary art take a look at Bon Appetit's 29 broccoli recipes you’ll want to make tonight!

If you enjoy a bit of garden down time, why not try growing some other vegetables and herbs? If your down for the challenge of growing broccoli in containers, then maybe you will also enjoy growing tomatoes, mint or beets!


What you’ll need to grow broccoli in containers

Before getting started, make sure you have the following materials at hand – but bear in mind that the quantities of most materials will depend on how much broccoli you plan to grow:

What You Need

  • One or more packets of broccoli seeds
  • One or more seed trays
  • Soilless potting mix
  • One or more containers
  • Organic soil
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Water

Keep in mind that broccoli plants spread out as they grow so the larger the diameter of your container, the more plants you’ll be able to grow.

Containers that are 18” or 24” in diameter and have drainage holes in the bottom are often the best fit.

Opt for clay containers whenever possible. Unlike plastic, clay pots actually provide benefits to your plants such as eliminating excess humidity from the soil and protecting them from abrupt changes in temperature.

Clay will also biodegrade instead of remaining in and contaminating our planet – as it unfortunately happens with plastic. 

Slightly acidic soils that range between 6.00 and 7.00 on the pH scale help broccoli thrive, so try getting your hands on some.  

You can ask around in local community gardens, garden shops, or farmers markets to do so.

Lastly, keep in mind that homemade compost or well-rotted manure can be used in place of commercial organic fertilizer.

If you decide to purchase commercial premix soil, using fertilizer won’t be necessary.  


How to plant broccoli: 10 painless steps to grow those tiny trees!

Start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks prior to your location’s last frost date, so you are be able to transplant them into a container outdoors in early spring.

Step #1. Get the Seed Trays Ready

Add enough soilless potting mix to cover the seed tray cells and compress the mix by using your fingers.

Step #2. Make Seed Holes

Make holes of ½” in depth in the soilless potting mix of each of the seed tray cells.

Step #3. Plant the Seeds

Plant one seed in each hole and cover them gently.

Step #4. Water the Seeds

Water the soilless potting mix slightly to settle it.

For the next 6 to 8 weeks continue to add enough water to keep the soil moist, without overwatering.

After this timeframe the seedlings should be a few inches tall and ready to transplant to their permanent home in their container.

Step #5. Get the Container Ready

Pour organic soil into the container – enough to fill it up.

Step #6. Add Fertilizer

Pour a 2” to 4” layer of organic fertilizer, homemade compost, or well-rotted manure on top of the soil.

Omit this step if you have purchased commercial pre-mix soil.

Step #7. Prepare the Soil for Transplanting

Compress and level the soil by using your hands.

Step #8. Make root ball holes

Make holes that are sufficiently large enough to accommodate the size of the root balls, and that are 12” or 30 cm apart from each other.

Step #9. Plant the Seedlings

Plant the seedlings in the corresponding holes and gently compress the soil around them.

Step #10. Water

Water the soil slightly to settle it. 


Bottom line: Getting the best out of broccoli

Forget about shying away from planting this marvellous food plant organically and in the comfort of your own home, as it only takes a few steps and very little effort to get you up and running.

We hope this article helped you learn how to grow broccoli indoors and in containers.

If it did, remember to leave your little-tree related thoughts and opinions in the comment section below and to share this article with all your broccoli-eating buddies.

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