Growing Broccoli in Containers | 10 Tips You MUST Know
Last updated: 10/31/21
The allure of container gardening has become a whimsical curiosity for many new gardeners. Growing Broccoli in a Container surprises many people when they hear about this possibility.
Growing broccoli in a container is certainly a welcoming delight that many beginners and even experienced gardeners did not know was even possible.
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that always tastes and looks better grown fresh in a raised garden or pot. You will learn 10 tips on the best ways, methods, and techniques on how to grow broccoli in a container.
We tried to cram as much broccoli growing information in these tips as possible without getting too technical.
We do have a much more detailed post about growing broccoli which can be found here.
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1- Reasons to Grow Broccoli in Containers
Because you like Broccoli. Is that reason enough to start growing broccoli in containers?
This tip is here to just compel you to just shake off any reservations you may have about container gardening.
You might also be asking the following questions about growing broccoli in a container.
- Can Broccoli be grown in a container?
- Can Broccoli be grown in a small area on my patio?
- I don’t have enough space, so where can I grow broccoli?
Growing Broccoli in a container or most other vegetables has many advantages than growing in a garden bed.
You don’t have to feel like growing broccoli will be difficult because it is fairly simple and easy to do.
Here are some of the 3 of the BEST reasons to grow broccoli in a container
- Ability to start indoors – You can start your broccoli seedlings indoors much earlier. You can either plant directly in your container if it is not too big to move or in seedling flats to get it started.
- Less Maintenance – You might be busy, so you may not have time to pick weeds or drag your hose down to a raised bed. Growing broccoli in a container will make these task much easier
- Small Spaces – You can place your container of broccoli pretty much anywhere that you get enough sunlight. This flexibility is perfect for those who don’t have large spaces or live in an apartment.
2- Best types of Broccoli to Grow in a container
Just think of broccoli as a flower that hasn’t bloomed. You plant the seed or transplant the seedling into your container and you are to the races with growing broccoli.
Most broccoli plants are pretty compact. Some types of broccoli can grow to be pretty massive.
You want to really size up the area that you will plant this in to get an idea of how much space you will need.
This will also give you an idea of the size of the container that you can plant in. More on that in tip #4.
In reality, you can grow pretty much any variety of broccoli in a container.
For intensive purposes, we will stick with a 3-5 gallon pot as that is the minimum size you want to get a good size broccoli plant.
The best type would be to stick with a smaller compact variety that will easily form a head. Growing these types of broccoli will enable you to have a better chance of the broccoli head forming.
- Waltham 29 Broccoli – This is by far the best variety of broccoli to grow in a container. It is a staple in our container gardens. Check out the seeds below for a good choice for this type.
- Broccoli Raab – This is actually a rabe style for broccoli. Raab style is broccoli without the heads you will see in the markets. It has the flavor of broccoli and pairs well with many dishes. It is very easy to grow this type of broccoli in a container. Check out the seeds below for a flavorful broccoli raab type.
You might want to avoid planting the really large broccoli types such as Goliath or the Romanesco varieties if you are just getting started. Those types of broccoli require more maintenance and care than the smaller compact and raab types.
3- Best time to Grow Broccoli in a container
The most ideal times for growing broccoli in a container are usually during the spring, fall and even winter times. You can grow it indoors too, but we will stick with a container you place outdoors.
The best time to grow broccoli is definitely in the fall time. You might have some pests to deal with, but this is mostly taken care of once the cooler weather descends in your area.
We have also had much success growing during the wintertime. We even get some periodic snow and just cover the plants up with some plastic. you could go more elaborate and use a grow tunnel if you get more snow than we do in NC.
We rarely have to do much care during this period and have some broccoli florets ready in March.
Broccoli prefers cooler weather, so don’t try to grow it during the summertime. You will get a plant that will flower very quickly once it starts to form. The flavor will also be compromised since the broccoli plant will direct most of its energy to flower instead of the growth.
4- Ideal Size for a Broccoli Container
Go as large of a container as you can afford. Containers can get pretty expensive and there are so many options out to choose from. The most ideal and minimum size container that you want is probably about 3-5 gallon size.
Maybe something like this pack of 5-gallon pots found here would be ideal. This container is sturdy enough but doesn’t break the bank.
The larger varieties like Goliath Broccoli require a bigger container because the plant will suck up all the nutrients in your container as it gets larger. The more soil you have filled with compost and slow-release fertilizer, the better off you are.
Another garden hack is to go down to our local nursery and ask if they have any containers they want to get rid of.
You can get these containers for free as they don’t know what to do with them all sometimes. The only drawback is they may not last for years like the ones you buy, but free is free.
5- Broccoli Needs How Much Room to Grow
Not sure if you have ever seen how big one broccoli plant will grow. Some of the broccoli plants will grow as large as 1 to 2 feet in diameter. The broccoli leaves will extend out far and wide for some of the larger types.
Keep this mind when planning the placement of your container of broccoli. You can get away with tucking it on a patio against a wall if it has plenty of sunlight. Broccoli will adapt to grow where it is placed.
6- Give it Time to Grow Broccoli
Your container full of broccoli will need some time before you can harvest it. The actual time it will take will depend on many factors. Generally, it will take about 12-16 weeks for you to be able to pick broccoli from your container.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you want to grow :
- Sunlight – Broccoli needs a good amount of sunlight at least 6 hours. The less amount of sunlight the broccoli receives, the longer it will take to grow
- Plant Food – Broccoli plants need a high amount of NPK. You can only pack in so much food in a container in the form of slow-release fertilizers, so you may also need to supplement with regular feedings to promote good growth. Check out our guide on fertilizers here if you want more info.
7- Best Time to Harvest Broccoli
Broccoli will need to be harvested before it starts to flower. You don’t want to pick the broccoli buds once they start to flower as the flavor of them will definitely change. Keep these tips in mind to help you remember when you do some surgery on your container broccoli plants.
- Formation of yellow buds – You want to harvest the broccoli once you notice a slight yellow form on the bud. Don’t delay harvesting the broccoli once you spot this.
- Side Shoot Bonus – You might want to cut the broccoli plant off at the main stem. More broccoli shoots will grow out of this and you will get an extra small batch of broccoli florets
8- Broccoli Drinking Needs
Growing broccoli in a container will require you to monitor the water supply just a bit more than if in a garden bed. The good thing is that it is typically cooler out since broccoli is best grown during these times of the year.
Keep these tips in mind to help you keep your broccoli watering needs in check:
- Container Soil Mix– Good practice is to start with what the broccoli soil mix will compose of. It usually consists of peat moss, vermiculite (perlite), and compost. The vermiculite will help hold the water content of the container. This will mean less watering.
- Moisture levels – Broccoli needs about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. You don’t want the soil too wet though, so avoid overwatering the broccoli. Make sure you have adequate drain holes in your container.
- Mulch – You may think of mulching your garden beds, but it also helps in your container. Add a good amount of mulch to the top of your broccoli container to help retain the moisture levels.
9- Growing Broccoli Problems
Growing container vegetables will come will some problems that you must solve to help them grow.
Broccoli doesn’t get a pass with this. Fortunately, most cooler vegetables have fewer problems than the ones grown in the summer.
Here are some of the most common problems or pest to deal with:
- Flea Beetles – Broccoli is a Brassica plant and these little menaces will feast on your plant if you let them. Most of the time, it will be harmless. Look for mini dotted holes on your leaves.
- Aphids– You all and love these pesky little green workers. These guys will suck the life out of the broccoli plant. Most of the time you can hose the plants off with water to get rid of them
- Black Rot– Most of the time this container broccoli problem forms at the beginning of spring because the weather is always cold and wet.The outer leaves of the broccoli will typically have this problem.It is mostly harmless until you notice it on the main stem of the broccoli plant. You may never see this issue if you plant later in the summer and fall timeframe as it is typically warmer.
Honestly, the other problem you may encounter is that you don’t actually form broccoli heads.
This is usually because you didn’t water or feed it properly. It may not have enough sunlight as well.
Make sure you do your best to provide your broccoli plants with the attention they need.
10- Storage of your Container Broccoli
You did it. Crushing it by growing some broccoli in your container following these tips.
You might have so much broccoli than you could possibly eat in 1 week. Don’t let it go to waste.
Follow these tips to help prolong your bounty of broccoli heads:
- Fridge Guide– Broccoli only lasts 1-2 weeks if kept in your refrigerator. It is best to put your broccoli in a ziplock bag and use fairly quickly.You may notice that some of the florets will start to turn black the longer you keep it.
- Freeze those Suckers – This is the best way to store broccoli and is a Green thumb preferred method to storing broccoli. Cut the florets up in small pieces and stick on a tray to freeze.Once the florets have frozen place the florets in a sealed bag and put back in the freezer. This extra step prevents the florets from clumping.
Keeping your broccoli covered and in the crisp drawer will help keep it stable. You may get some slight wilting on the florets. This can actually cut these off if you don’t want to waste your broccoli.
This enables you to quickly parboil the rest to get a few extra days out of it.
Check out these tips here if you want a few tips to make broccoli last.
There you have it. 10 simple tips to help you grow broccoli in a container. Container gardening is really about making things simple and easy to do.
Don’t over complicate any of the processes that you find.
Growing Broccoli in a container is so rewarding because you will discover how simple it is. Start with 1 broccoli plant and then grow 2 or 3 the next time.
Don’t worry if you don’t start from seed.
Using the starter plants that you find at the local nursery is fine.
The best thing you can do is to just get out there and get your hands dirty. Playing in the dirt is the best way to learn.
You will make mistakes and that is ok. Experiment with all the techniques you learn to see what best fits your style.
- Can you grow broccoli in a 5-gallon bucket? – Absolutely, a 5-gallon bucket is an ideal size to grow broccoli in a container.
- How many heads of broccoli do you get from one plant? – You will get at least one head per plant. You may also cut off the main head and side shoots will form, so this may increase your yield.