All About Growing Brussels Sprouts

One of the last veggies to be harvested in early winter, Brussels sprouts bring the gardening year to a delicious close. Growing Brussels sprouts is easy if you plant at the right time and work with vigorous varieties. This guide includes descriptions of Brussels sprout varieties and tips for growing this cabbage-family crop in your organic garden.

  • For the sweetest, best-tasting Brussels sprouts, transplant starts later in your growing season so that the crop matures in the cooler temperatures of fall.
    Illlustration by Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

One of the most unusual members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprout plants develop miniature cabbage heads along the main stem, starting from the bottom up. Sprout formation does not begin until the plants are mature, which can occur 90 to 120 days after transplanting, depending on variety and weather conditions.

Exposure to frost improves the flavor of Brussels sprouts, so they are a yearly treat of early winter. Where winters are mild, Brussels sprouts can be grown through winter for harvest in early spring.

Types of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprout varieties vary in growth rate, productivity and color. Hybrids including ‘Diablo’ and ‘Dimitri’ have been the most productive in field trials in a variety of locations. Where these reliable varieties do well, you can also try heirlooms such as ‘Long Island’ or red ‘Rubine.’

Days to maturity ratings for Brussels sprout varieties range between 90 and 120 days, with most varieties falling in between. However, this estimate represents the date of your first picking only. Brussels sprout plants that start producing about two weeks before your last frost date will bear good crops over a long season. When growing Brussels sprouts, expect weekly harvests of four to five sprouts per plant for about six weeks.

How to Plant Brussels Sprouts

Unlike cabbage and broccoli, growing Brussels sprouts is seldom successful from plants set out in spring. Hot weather that arrives just as spring-planted sprouts start sprouting ruins their flavor and texture, and the plants become magnets for insects.

4/23/2014 11:09:53 AM

A friends brussels sprouts roots in the ground from last year are sprouting. Will they develop fruit?

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