Broccoli Plant Growth Stages – Full Guide

Broccoli is a plant that has a flowering head, stalk, and some leaves and it is usually eaten as a vegetable. For gardening enthusiasts looking for a vegetable addition to their yards, Broccoli will be a great addition. It contains fiber and a wide array of minerals including Folic acid, Potassium, and, vitamins A, C, and K. With such a combination, you can bet Broccoli is one of the most crucial vegetables throughout the world.

Whether you are a first-timer or a vegetable gardening guru, Broccoli is very easy to grow. But unlike its relatives like Cabbage and kale, Broccoli is not as common of a vegetable to grow. As such, we’re providing you with a detailed review of growing stages of broccoli to help you out with your gardening practices. Knowing the different broccoli plant growing stages will make your yard chores a walk in the park. Besides, you will be able to provide your plant with the best care thus ensuring it grows healthy and strong.

Growing Stages of Broccoli Plant in Homes and Garden 

Usually, broccoli undergoes four basic growing stages from planting to maturity and these stages take 50 to 70 days. The growing phase include Germination, Seedling, Vegetative, and Flowering stage. Let’s dive into the intricacies of broccoli plant growth stages:

Stage 1: Germination

Broccoli is an annual vegetable meaning you can only grow and harvest it once a year. The first stage of its growth is germination. In this stage, the broccoli seeds require moisture, sunlight, nutrients, and the ideal temperature to resume life.

A seed starting tray or any well-drained container can be used to start the seeds indoors. Ideally, most gardeners start the broccoli seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost. As for the temperatures, 65°F to 85°F is ideal. Normally, you will notice the seeds beginning to sprout after about 10 days.

In this section, we will cover all the information you need to know about the germinating stage of broccoli. The stage involves:

  1. Planting

Being a cool-weather vegetable, broccoli requires cooler temperatures to thrive. You can start your broccoli seeds either in spring or fall. For spring plantings, you’ll have to start the seeds indoors in early spring about 7 weeks before the last frost date. For fall plantings, you can sow the seeds directly into the soil either mid to late summer.

After starting the broccoli seeds, ensure that the soil is always moist. The moisture softens the seed coat and finally penetrates the seed. The presence of moisture inside the seed triggers internal cells to start metabolizing the stored food reservoir and respiration and begin respiration.

Whether you sow your seeds indoors or directly to your yard, germination will occur in about ten days. During this period, you will observe a radicle (primary root) emerge through the seed coat. As soon as the emerging root anchors the broccoli seedling in the soil, it starts to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil to promote plant growth.

  1. Sprouting

Now that the radicle is aiding in the absorption of moisture and nutrients, the shoot breaks through the soil surface and grows upwards. After sprouting, most of the plant directs all its resources to the shoot, and leaves start to develop.

Bundle of broccoli sprouts

Stage 2: Seedling Stage

It is the second stage in broccoli plant growth. Seeding lasts for about one month – a period in which the broccoli plant has a leaf-like and a young root system to synthesize its food and absorb water and necessary nutrients respectively. Note that after one month, you can transfer the seedlings to the garden if you had planted them on a germinating tray. During the seedling stage, the ideal temperatures are 60°F to 65°F.

The most important thing during the seedling stage is that you need to regularly water the plant. If you are still not sure of the amount of water to use, a general rule of thumb is to moisten only the top inches of the soil. This helps avoid overwatering.

The seedling stage involves:

  1. Formation Of The First True Leaf

Remember that when the plant first sprouts, it grows relatively slowly since it relies on the embryonic stored food reservoirs which are dwindling. As such, it is of great need for the plant to form its leaves and start manufacturing its food through photosynthesis.

During this time, the first true leaf appears and photosynthesis begins. The seedling now starts manufacturing its food.

Formation of The First True Leaf of broccoli plant
  1. Formation of The Third True Leaf

Now that the seedling can produce food through photosynthesis, the broccoli plant begins to grow rapidly. In this sage, the broccoli has developed new cells that contain growth hormones to stimulate the growth and development of new eaves. You will notice the development of the third set of true leaves which will in turn increase the rate of photosynthesis and plant growth at large.

Formation of The Third True Leaf of broccoli plant

Stage 3: Vegetative Stage

This is the third growing stage of broccoli plant growth. During this stage, the seedling will rapidly grow to form a true set of leaves, a developed stem, and a root system. Now, the plant is mature enough to absorb water and nutrients and synthesis its food using sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. The plant mainly focuses its energy on outward and upward growth while storing resources to utilize during flowering.

During this stage, you can provide your plants with a low nitrogen fertilizer. Do not feed your broccoli with high amounts of nitrogen as this can potentially prevent head formation. Besides, you can also opt to use compost with high amounts of carbon materials.

vegetative stage of broccoli plant

The vegetative stage involves:

  1. Broccoli Head Formation

The edible part of the broccoli plant is a flower head that is harvested before it blooms. During the broccoli head formation, the outward growth (vegetative) slows almost to a standstill, and all the absorbed resources within the plant are used in the development of the main flower head. The broccoli head is located atop the stalk of the plant.

a piece of broccoli head
  1. Harvesting

If you are growing Broccoli for vegetable use, make sure that you harvest the broccoli head before flowers set in. you will know when the central head is fully developed and ready for harvest; it contains tight and compact florets. Each floret is almost the size of a matchstick and the entire broccoli head has a deep vibrant green color. On the other hand, if you are growing broccoli for seeds, you can decide not to harvest the broccoli head and leave it to proceed to the flowering stage.

harvesting stage of broccoli head

Stage 4: Flowering

 It is the last stage in the growth cycle of broccoli and starts between 45 to 65 days after planting. Note that when the individual buds of the broccoli head open up and display flowers, you cannot harvest it. You’ll have to wait until seeds are formed. The seeds are ready for harvest when the broccoli turns brown and the seeds dry. In this case, you can collect the seeds and store them for planting in the future.

flowering stage of broccoli

The flowering stage involves:

  1. Side Shoots Develop

After harvesting the main broccoli head, the plant’s energy is no longer focused on apical growth since the hormones stimulate the development of side shoots off the main stem of the plant. Over time, you will notice that a small broccoli head forms from each side shoot. Harvest each of these broccoli secondary flower heads after they mature.

  1. Flowers Open

With an increase in temperature, hormones cause the cells to stretch. In turn, the florets become tall or bolt. Bolting is a process that occurs in all plants when they near the end of their lifecycle. During this stage, the plant goes into seeding. As for broccoli, the green florets open up and reveal yellow flowers.

  1. Seed Formation

If you’re growing broccoli just for vegetable purposes, the life cycle ends with flowering. However, if you do not pull the plants from the soil, they grow to seed formation. Through pollination of the yellow flowers, seeds start to form in seed pods. In this stage, the plant has used all its resources to develop the newly formed seeds leaving little to no energy left for further growth of the plant. The plant dies off.


This article covers all the growing stages of Broccoli plant. Hopefully, it has shed some light on how to grow broccoli.

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