Do you grow broccoli in your garden- or want to learn how? Learn all about the broccoli plant growing stages to help you understand how this vegetable grows and what to expect during each stage.

Broccoli is a brassica (sometimes called a cole crop). Other members of the brassica family include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. 

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Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable and temperature can play a big part in the broccoli plant growing stages.

Broccoli has a large central stalk that produces a large head of broccoli. The stalk, leaves, and buds are all edible- and very nutrient dense!

So, let’s talk about the broccoli plant growing stages, what to expect, and issues you might experience during each stage. 


broccoli plant growing stages


Main Broccoli Plant Growing Stages

As I mentioned, broccoli is a cool-weather vegetable. It needs cooler air and soil temperatures to grow properly and develop large heads.

Broccoli is an annual plant- meaning it completes it’s full lifecycle from germination to seed production in one season. 

So, let’s talk about all of the different growing stages broccoli goes through to complete this cycle. 


Broccoli Plant Stage #1:Germination Stage

broccoli seedlings in soil blocks

First, we have germination, or planting. 

This stage is when the seeds are planted in soil and the roots and first leaves emerge. 

Germination for broccoli  is usually pretty quick, with seedling emerging in 5-10 days. I have had some seeds sprout in  3 days as well. ‘

Broccoli seeds can germinate in temperatures between 45 F to 75 F, with warmer temperatures speeding germination a little. 

Learn how to grow broccoli from seed here: How to Grow Broccoli from Seed


Broccoli Plant Stage #2: Seedling Stage

broccoli seedling planted in the garden

After the seeds have germinated and emerged from the soil, broccoli enters the seedling stage. 

At this point photosynthesis begins and the plant begins to grow and develop. 

The seedling stage starts with just 2 leaves, then the first true leaves come next. Once the broccoli plant has at least 4-5 sets of leaves, you can plant the broccoli out in the garden.

Temperatures are best kept around 60-65 F for the best growth. 

Broccoli is frost hardy, but you will need to harden off your seedling before transplanting them to get them used to cooler temperatures. 


Broccoli Plant Stage #3: Vegetative Stage

broccoli plant in Vegetative Stage

Once planted in the garden, the magic really begins. 

With established roots and enough leaves to produce lots of energy, your broccoli plant enters into the vegetative growth stage. 

This is the most active growth stage for broccoli. Over the next 60 days to so your broccoli will continue to grow taller and wider. 

This is also when the broccoli head will form. It will start very small in the center of the stalk and grow larger and wider as time goes by. 

The ideal temperatures for broccoli is between 65-75 F. Warmer temperatures will cause premature flowering.

During this stage be sure to feed plants as needed and water regularly if the season is dry. 


Broccoli Plant Stage #4: Harvesting Stage

broccoli head on plant ready to harvest

When broccoli is ready to harvest the center head will be deep green, with tightly packed buds. 

The head can be 4-8 inches in diameter, depending on the variety you are growing, how crowded the plants are, and how much sun they get. 

If there is any loosening of the buds or if you see yellow flowers, harvest immediately.


Broccoli Plant Stage #5: Side Shoot Stage

broccoli side shoots stage

Don’t pull up the plant yet! After harvesting the main broccoli stalk, your broccoli plant will begin putting out side shoots. 

Each of these side shoots will develop into small  broccoli head that can  be harvested and eaten as well. 


Broccoli Plant Stage #6: Flowering Stage

broccoli plant flowering stage

The flowering broccoli stage comes next, but when it happens depends on a lot of factors. 

First, if you wait too long to harvest the center broccoli head, it will eventually begin to flower. So harvesting at the correct time is very important. 

Temperature also plays a part in when your broccoli flowers. Broccoli does best in 60-70 F, but if temperatures are above 80 for a period the plant will flower. 


Broccoli Plant Stage #7: Seed Formation

And, finally, we have come full circle in the life cycle of broccoli. 

Once the plant has flowered and the flowers have been pollinated, the petals will drop and seed pods will begin to develop.

The seed pods are mature when they turn brown and are dry. 

At this point you can harvest the stalks with the pods on them (carefully, so they don’t burst and self seed everywhere!) 

Break open the pods to collect the seeds to plant next year or in the fall! Be sure they are completely dry before storage. 


And that’s it, that’s all of the broccoli plant growing stages.Good luck growing your own broccoli this year!