Stir fry, spring rolls, and potstickers are just not complete without bok choy as an ingredient, which is disappointing if your local market doesn’t carry it or is out. Learn how to grow bok choy in a container and ways to give your plants care for a tasty harvest.
Container gardening is a great way to produce your own vegetables, such as chard, zucchini, and bok choy, especially if you don’t have room for a large backyard garden.
Chinese cabbage, or bok choy, is similar in taste to the traditional cabbage you’re used to, but it looks more like a celery/lettuce hybrid. The whole plant is edible, from the stalks to the leaves, so nothing goes to waste.
Growing Bok Choy in Containers
Like many other leafy greens, bok choy is low in calories and rich in minerals and vitamins, making it an ideal choice for the garden and dinner table.
Bok choy is a famous ingredient in Asian cuisine and has been that way for a very long time. It is growing in popularity in North America, but not all grocery stores carry it in bulk like many other veggies.
Fortunately, it is just as easy to grow in containers as any other plant, like growing kale in pots, as long as you provide it with the right amount of sunshine, water, and care.
Chinese cabbage is usually only available at the farmer’s market during late summer when it’s in season, and your grocer produce tends to be treated with chemicals.
The best way to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables is to grow your own at home, and growing bok choy in containers is easier than you think. These leafy greens are fast-growers, take up very little space, and grow in a wide range of hardiness zones.
Growing bok choy in pots or growing celery from stalk ends is an excellent way to produce your own food on a patio or porch, and you get to benefit from a healthy crop of leafy greens for your favorite Asian dishes.
Things to Know before Growing Bok Choy in Containers
While planting bok choi in a pot is relatively easy to do, there are different types to choose from, and they require the right amount of water, sunshine, and conditions to flourish. Here are a few facts to know before growing bok choy in containers.
Bok choy (Brassica rapa subsp. Chinensis) is a cool-season biennial plant that also grows as an annual in many areas. It goes by several names, including bok choi, Chinese cabbage, and pak choy, and the entire plant is delicious with a mild flavor.
There are several types of bok choy, including Black Summer with very dark leaves, the fast-growing Ching Chiang, and the bolt-resistant Joi Choi.
It thrives in hardiness zones 2 through 11, enjoys slightly acidic to neutral soil, and full sun to part shade. Pak choi grows up to 24 inches tall with a 6 to 18-inch spread, depending on the type.
Like when planting kale in containers, it’s vital to plant it outdoors right after the danger of frost passes when it’s still cool since a hot climate causes it to bolt faster.
Note that there is a way to grow bok choy from stem pieces, too. All you need is a container of water and some toothpicks.
How to Grow Bok Choy in a Container
Growing veggies from seed is the cheapest and easiest way to produce food, but there are a few steps needed to ensure they germinate and grow into healthy plants. Here is how to grow bok choy in a container by starting them from seeds.
To grow bok choy at home, plant the seeds in a seed starting tray and start them indoors in the early spring, four to five weeks before the last frost date, or sow them directly in the outdoor container after the last frost.
To start them indoors, fill a tray with potting mix and sow the seeds in the dirt a half-inch deep and an inch apart.
Press them down lightly and spray them with water to dampen the soil without making it soggy. Keep them in a warm area and thin the seedlings with six-inch spacing.
After they are a couple of inches tall and the nighttime temps are above 50°F, harden them off by taking them outdoors a couple of hours each day for a week.
Fill your container or pot with a mixture of potting soil and organic matter and make a hole in the soil that is slightly larger than the seedling base. Spacing is essential, so make them six inches apart if you plant more than one seedling.
Carefully remove the small plant from the tray, place the roots in the hole, and push soil around the base. Pat it down gently but firmly, and give it a good drink of water to help the roots settle.
Bok choy generally takes about 45 days to grow to maturity, depending on the type. You know when to pick bok choy when the leaves are the size you want. Growing baby bok choy is easy. Harvest your baby bok choy whenever the leaves are usable by removing the outer leaves as needed, or wait until it matures and harvest the entire plant.
Caring for Your Plants While Growing Bok Choy in Pots
While growing bok choy in pots is pretty straightforward, your container garden still wants a bit of attention during the growing season to ensure the leafy greens are healthy. Discover how much water and sun the different varieties of bok choy need and things to look for as they grow to prevent damage.
After growing bok choy indoors and transplanting them in an outdoor pot or container, it’s time to give them some TLC. The first thing to decide is placement. Don’t forget to think about companion plants for bok choy so they are more resistant to bugs.
These leafy greens enjoy six to eight hours of sunlight each day, but they also need a bit of partial shade from the hot afternoon sun, so choose an area where they get a bit of direct sun and shelter.
They also require about one inch of water each week, so water them with a garden hose at the base during dry periods. Just like houseplants, container gardens tend to dry out faster than a garden bed, so test the soil with your finger and water them when the dirt is dry.
Spreading a layer of mulch over the soil is a great way to retain moisture while keeping weeds at bay. Bok choy plants are heavy feeders, so feed them with an organic fertilizer right when you plant them.
Both cold and warm temperatures cause bolting, when the plant puts up a flower stalk, signifying the end of the season. To prevent this, give your plants shelter when the temperatures are hot and water them evenly.
Don’t be concerned about the plants being damaged by the first frost since a mild frost actually enhances the leaves’ flavor.
Flea beetles, aphids, cabbage worms, and cabbage loopers are common bok choy pests, and signs of their activity include holes in leaves and stems, sticky residue, and struggling foliage.
If you find bugs in bok choy, remove them by hand as soon as you notice them, use insecticidal soap to kill the pests if they become a problem, and consider using row covers to minimize the damage from these insects.
A container garden is simple to start, and this type of DIY gardening is convenient since all you have to do to harvest fresh veggies is step outside your backdoor.
It’s also a great way to monitor your bok choy plants daily for pests and diseases and ensure they get the right amount of care.
We hope that learning how to grow bok choy in a container keeps your favorite recipes full of flavor, and we’d love it if you’d share our bok choy growing tips and guide with the veggie-lovers in your life on Facebook and Pinterest.