Cauliflower is half-hardy biennial and a cool weather plant being grown annually. Buds growing on top of stalks of cauliflower are edible and the reason for them being grown so popularly worldwide. They come in a variety of different colors like white, cream, purple or green. Growing cauliflowers in your home garden is a great healthy addition.
There are a lot of things to be taken care of and to be known when growing cauliflowers. Like you must know, how long does it take a cauliflower to grow? Growing it more than it requires deteriorates quality and texture.
Keep reading to find out in detail about the growth of cauliflowers.
Quick Guide to Plant and Grow Cauliflower
- Cauliflower is a cool weather crop and takes around 55-100 days to grow. The temperature conditions should be cool and even to reach harvest.
- You can start sowing seeds indoors around 6-10 weeks before the last frost in spring. When these seeds grow into seedlings of 4-5 true leaves, then they are ready to be transplanted outside. Seedlings should be transplanted around 2-6 weeks before the last frost date of spring.
- Seeds can be sown directly into soil when soil temperatures are around 18-24C. Cool and even temperatures are liked by cauliflowers. Otherwise, they may bolt or produce seeds.
- Cauliflowers mature in 55-80 days from transplants. Otherwise, it takes about 70 to 120 days for them to be ready for harvest.
- Companion plants for cauliflower plants are beets, celery, onions, herbs, potatoes. It is suggested to avoid growing strawberries, tomatoes or pole beans around cauliflowers.
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Germination: How Long Does Cauliflower Take To Germinate
Best temperature for growing cauliflower is 15C. Too much hot or cold temperature can cause heads of cauliflowers to button. This means that they will not grow as a firm and compact head. Instead, it will have separate small white parts. So, to avoid these horrible conditions, seeds need to be sown at the correct time. It is best to sow them 6-10 weeks before the last frost date in spring.
Sow seeds and provide them with enough moisture content for good growth. Next, cover it with a plastic wrap until germination takes place. Seed germination in cauliflowers happens in around 8 to 10 days. Seed germination temperature for cauliflowers is 45F.
When seed has germinated and seedlings appear in soil, plastic wrap can be removed.
Seeds of cauliflowers can also be germinated using the paper towel method. Here, temperatures of 60-80F should be maintained for germination to take place.
Cauliflower Varieties to Grow
Here are the best varieties of cauliflowers grown for consumption-
Graffiti is a purple cauliflower variety that takes 70-80 days to mature for harvest. It has bright purple heads of 6-7 inches in diameter. Plant reaches a height of about 24 inches and this variety has more tolerance to humidity and fungal diseases.
This is an heirloom variety that originated in France. It takes 70-80 days to mature. Heads of snowball variety are smooth and compact. They reach 6-7 inches in diameter. They have a lot of leaves which provide self blanching to the plants. Flavour of this variety is mild.
It is an early orange variety which takes 60-70 days for maturing. Smooth heads of 6-7 inches in diameter grow in cheddar variety. This is a mild and sweet flavoured variety. It is nutritious in beta-carotene and color deepens when it is cooked.
This variety is paler than cheddar one. It is an early orange variety and takes 55-60 days to mature. Heads grow upto diameter of 7 inches which are firm, dense and smooth. It has average tolerance for heat and grows upto height of 14 inches.
This is an early variety that grows in 60-70 days. It has smooth and white coloured heads. Diameter if heads is around 7 inches. The flavour of the attribute variety is nutty and savoury.
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How Long Does Cauliflower Take To Grow?
In 55-100 days, cauliflowers are ready to be harvested that are grown from transplants. In case of cauliflowers grown directly from seeds, it takes 85-130 days to reach harvest stage.
How to Plant: A Step by Step Guide
There are various factors that need to be taken care of while growing cauliflowers. Here is a step by step guide on how to grow cauliflowers.
#1 Choose a planting site
Best soil type for growing healthy and delicious cauliflowers is rich and well drained. It must retain moisture in it for proper growth of cauliflower plants. Acceptable pH level of soil used for growth is considered to be 6.5-8.0.
A site that receives full bright sun is preferable. Broccoflower prefers partial shade, instead.
Aged compost should be added to the planting site before planting cauliflower. It makes soil nutritious and good for cauliflower growth.
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#2 Know right time for planting
To reach harvest, cauliflowers need to be grown in even, cold temperatures for around 55-100 days. Plant seeds indoors for around 6-10 weeks before the last frost date in spring. Plants can be then taken outside and planted in the ground. When the transplant becomes 2-6 weeks old, they are ready to be taken outside. Usually, they are taken 6 weeks after when plants develop 4-5 true leaves.
When temperatures outside are 18-25C, direct seeds can also be sown into the soil in the garden. For fall harvest, sow seeds in the ground around 8-12 weeks before the first frost date in fall.
Extreme temperature conditions, whether cold or hot are not acceptable. It leads to bolting and plants go to seed.
To add to this, moisture is better for cauliflower plants, if conditions are dry, the plant will not grow well.
Autumn is a great season for growing cauliflower because at that time temperature is normal, neither too cold nor too hot.
#3 Planting and spacing
Now that you are aware of suitable planting conditions, it is time to know about planting and spacing.
Cauliflower seeds should be sown about ½ inch deep and around 2-3 inches apart from each other. Next, plants should be thinned from 15-24 inches apart. Rows should be spaced around 24-30 inches.
Transplants that are legged and cooked stemmed should be placed deeply up to their first set of leaves.
If cauliflowers are being grown in containers, then choose a container at least 8 inches deep. If the container is large, plant cauliflowers at 18 inches centre.
#4 Water and feed
Soil must be moist for proper growth of cauliflowers. Even moisture content in soil ensures vigorous growth and formation of cauliflower heads.
Regular watering should be ensured. Also, plants should be fed with aged compost to provide nourishment.
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#5 Caring for cauliflower plants
Weeds should be strictly taken care of while growing cauliflowers. Weeds are harmful for plant growth as they take up nutrients and leave nothing for plants. Also, they create competition for water as well as space. Some weeds are even toxic. So, it’s better to get rid of them, if you see any.
Deep cultivations should be avoided as it can lead to damaging of roots of plants. Further, ensure that along with proper water and nutrition, a good amount of sunlight reaches plants.
Blanching is necessary in the case of white cauliflowers to keep them clean and white. It is also done to protect cauliflower heads from rain and heat from the sun.
Heads are ready to blanch when they reach the size of an egg. For this, take around 3-4 top leaves and tie them with a rubber band over the head. If plants do self blanching, then you do not need to do it yourself. Also, keep on checking heads weekly. There may be pests eating out cauliflowers heads below leaves.
#6 Harvesting and storage
In mature cauliflowers, heads reach a diameter of 6-8 inches in proper growing conditions. A mature head of cauliflower should be firm and compact. Mature cauliflower seed stalks can reach upto 4 feet of height. Leaves can also be cooked along with edible buds of cauliflower.
It can be refrigerated for about one week. It need not be washed and should be kept in plastic. Cauliflower can also be frozen or pickled to increase shelf life.
Aged compost can be used on planting sites before sowing seeds or transplanting to ensure nutrient rich conditions.
High nitrogen fertilizer can be used for side dressing the plants 3-4 weeks after transplanting. Cauliflowers need a high amount of nitrogen to grow healthily. You can also give well rotted compost with lots of coffee grounds.
At- Planting Feeding
When seedlings are planted in soil, give them a good start by using compost tea. Compost tea can be created by soaking aged compost in water for around 1 day. Strain mixture after 1-2 days. Add water to the solution until it turns light brown in colour. Then, pour this solution directly on top of cauliflower seedlings and little around it. This should be done in the morning and on sunny days to let plants dry afterwards.
Mid- Season Feeding
When heads get formed, plants are ready for being fertilized again. You can water plants using compost tea like in the beginning. Or you can also feed plants using dry compost.
Feeding with dry compost is basically side dressing. For this, make a narrow band of dry aged compost along each row of cauliflower. It can be around 2 inches tall and wide. After doing this, water the soil bed thoroughly and you are done.
Pests and Cauliflower Growing Problems
Like other plants, cauliflowers are also prone to diseases and pests. So, there should be proper care taken to avoid such conditions. Here are some common pests that destroy cauliflowers- cutworms, cabbage loopers, imported cabbage worms, aphids, stink bugs and cabbage root maggots also affect cauliflowers.
To avoid attacks by these pests, use mesh row covers. You can pick pests by hand to remove them from plants. You can also spray Bacillus thuringiensis to get rid of pests.
Cauliflowers are also susceptible to diseases. They can suffer root rots. Usually, leaves start yellowing when the plant is infected with root rot.
To avoid occurrence of diseases, plant varieties that are disease resistant. There should not be any clutter around plants. Do not touch plants unnecessarily when they are wet.
Infected plants should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible. This is helpful in avoiding spreading of disease to other plants.
Another disease in cauliflowers is Downy mildew. It occurs in cool and wet conditions. Cauliflower’s head starts turning brown in downy mildew. Powdery mildew, white rust and black rot are other common diseases in cauliflowers.
Growing cauliflowers is an interesting process and if you have liking for gardening, you will love growing cauliflowers in your home garden. Moreover, such a nutritious vegetable should be grown at home to consume anytime. In just 55-100 days, your healthy cauliflowers will be ready to consume.