Cabbage Plant Growth Stages (3 Phases of Growth) 

Cabbage is one of the best ingredients when it comes to salad making as well as the preparation of other delicacies. As such, it is an important vegetable in the world. This flowering plant from the Brassicaceae family is packed with a variety of vitamins and dietary minerals. 

Although you can grow cabbage in both summer and winter, it is a cool-weather plant that does not like a lot of heat and sun. To grow cabbage successfully, you need to understand all its growth stages. 

But, what are the growing phases of cabbage? If you are new to gardening, or it’s your first time planting this vegetable, you might be wondering what growing stages your plant will go through before it fully matures. Thankfully, this guide has everything you need to know about the growing phase of cabbage. Read on and happy gardening!

How long does it take Cabbage to Grow?

The cabbage plant takes about 65 – 100 days until maturation. These days range depends on the fertility of the soil and the presence of the required environmental factor such as temperature, sunlight, and moisture.

How long does it take Cabbage plant to form Head?

Irrespective of the type of cabbage plant, whether Green, Red, or Nappa Cabbage, the head begin forming immediately the true leaves are matured. Once the true leaves are manage it takes and three or four weeks for the head to be fully formed.

Three-Stage Program for Growing Cabbage

A flow diagram of growing cabbage

As one of the crowd pleasers when it comes to salad, vitamins, minerals, and delicious meals, it is important that you know and understand the growth stages of cabbage. This will not only make your turf of green healthy but also nice-looking. 

Generally, there are three major phases of cabbage growth; they include Crop Establishment, Rapid Growth, and Maturation.

Phase 1: Crop Establishment

A row of cabbage seedings

The first phase of the cabbage plant takes place in the first 2 to 4 weeks. You must understand that this stage is very crucial in the overall growth of your plant. As such, you should maximise nutrient intake in this phase by proper fertilisation.

Fertiliser application helps the plant develop a healthy root system and thrive. For most cabbage types, fertilising twice a week after the root system has developed is recommended. The fertilisers applied at this stage contain low nitrogen rates to increase the overall yields and speed up growth. Nevertheless, how often you fertilise your vegetable yard will depend on many factors and the cabbage type you have. 

The Crop establishment phase includes:

  • Germination

It is the first stage in the growth of cabbage. It involves the germination of the seeds. In this phase of crop establishment, certain conditions are needed for the true leaves to sprout – these include ideal temperature, adequate nutrients, moisture, and sufficient sunlight. 

Note that this is a crucial stage in the growth of cabbage as it determines whether the plant will survive or not. Therefore, this first stage of cabbage growth demands care and maintenance of close to perfect growing conditions.

On the downside, cabbages tend to face several problems at this stage including an attack by flea beetles. This may lead to small holes in the stems. In worse conditions, you will notice that some stems are even cut completely. 

Besides, some diseases are most likely to infect the cotyledons at this stage. As such, it goes without saying that you have to give your germinating seeds care to detail.

  • Seeding
seeding stage of cabbage

After germination, the next developmental stage in a cabbage plant is seeding where you will notice the presence of up to five true leaves. Under normal circumstances, seeding usually follows germination by approximately 14 days (2 weeks). 

Essentially, you will notice your cabbage plant transitioning from cotyledon steam to a young plant with leaves and a root system.

Remember that the plant is still in its early developmental stages and cannot manufacture its food yet. Therefore, ensure that you facilitate everything your plant needs to thrive. With proper care, the plant should progress to the next phase.

Phase 2: Rapid Growth

A row of cabbage plant

Once the cabbage develops a root system, it now starts the rapid growth phase. It is the second phase in the growth of cabbage and it facilitates the sufficient intake of minerals and water. In this phase, fertilisers are most effective and you should thus fertilise your plantation weekly. 

Although different fertilising methods can be used in this phase, banded fertiliser application is recommended. Here, you have to apply bands of granular fertiliser in between rows to facilitate efficient fertiliser root uptake via the leaves. Note that using other modes of fertiliser application would require the use of water which in turn puts the cabbage leaves at the risk of burn. 

The rapid growth phase includes:

  • True Leaf Stage
A row of true leaf stage of cabbage seedings

At this stage, you will notice that the cabbage has 6 to 8 leaves (early true leaves). After some time, the leaves increase and you will notice 9 to 12 leaves (late true leaves). Still, your plant will be prone to damage by flea beetles and cabbage maggots.

On the bright side, the plants in this stage are better suited to thrive and survive unlike in the crop establishment phase.

  • Pre-Cupping
pre- cupping stage of cabbage plant

When the cabbage has more than 12 leaves, it enters the pre-cupping stage. In this stage, you will notice that the base of the stems and the leaves begin to conceal. The cabbage has now been established quite well and is less susceptible to infections and injury. 

  • Cupping
cupping stage of cabbage plant

The cupping stage follows pre-cupping and occurs when the cabbage has approximately more than 20 leaves. During cupping, large leaves conceal the innermost leaves. It is important to note that the innermost leaves will eventually form the frame of the leaves once the cabbage matures.

  • Early Head Formation
head  formation of cabbage

In this stage, the innermost leaves overlap to form a ball-like shape called the head and it is surrounded by bigger and stronger outermost leaves.

Phase 3: Maturation Phase

a row of matured cabbage

The last phase in cabbage growth is the maturation phase. In this phase, the cabbage head will reach its maximum size and there will be no new leaves growing. You will notice that at this stage, the overlapping leaves harden to form a perfect ball and you can now harvest your cabbage.

The maturation phase include:

  • The Head Fill Stage
head fill stage of cabbage

During this stage, you will notice a round firm ball of overlapping leaves in the middle of the cabbage plant. This is the very last stage before the cabbage grows to maturity. However, you should not harvest at this stage, give the vegetable time to fully mature. As we’ve already seen, you’ll know that the cabbage is ready to harvest when there are no more new leaves growing and the existing leaves have completely overlapped to form a round firm ball.


Overall, growing cabbage is a straightforward process. Besides, knowing the growing phase of cabbage will make your vegetable gardening routine a walk in the park.

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