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Marie Iannotti

Gardening Question of the Week: Why Isn't my Broccoli Forming Heads?

By May 5, 2010

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Nabisha wrote asking why 5 month old broccoli and cauliflower plants weren't forming heads. We've all heard that too much nitorgen fertilizer can cause a lot of leaves and no flowers or fruits. That could be the case here. However heading problems are usually weather related. They may be cool weather vegetables, they while seedlings, they are tender and don't like cold, wet weather. Hold off planting until temperatures hover around 50 F. or all you will get are tiny, premature heads, called buttons. Once buttons have formed, you may not get a large head at all.

On the flip side, broccoli and cauliflower don't like excess heat and won't form heads if the temperature hits the 90s F. during the day and especially if it doesn't cool off at night. If that happens, frequent watering, mulching and a little shade will help.

Do you have any tips for getting Nabisha's broccoli and cauliflower plants to produce?

Photo: greyman / stock.xchng.


May 14, 2010 at 1:21 am
(1) Kat says:

No florets for me either but the leaves themselves are delicious sauted with garlic:)

May 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm
(2) Marie Iannotti says:

There you go, like making lemonade from lemons. There’s always something good, if you look.

August 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm
(3) Brenda says:

My plants are not producing florets either. I didn’t know that the leaves were good to eat. Thanks for the info. I am planning to use the stems for slaw. I have seen it sold this way in the supermarket.

August 28, 2013 at 4:10 am
(4) gardening says:

I’ve seen it in the store, too. but I’ve never thought to try it. Good idea.

Seems like it was a tough year for vegetable gardeners. But then, most are, I guess.

November 13, 2013 at 9:49 am
(5) Sandy says:

That is true that the leaves are good. I cut tender broccoli leaves and cook them in with my mustard, turnips, and collards with bacon or ham pieces. SO delicious!

November 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm
(6) Marie Iannotti says:

I wonder how much we waste in the garden, just because we didn’t know it was edible. Most people think broccoli leaves are tough, and strip them off. It’s like people who rip out basil as soon as it flowers, rather than eating the flowers.

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