Even if you detested Brussels sprouts as a child, there is a whole lot to love about growing these cool-season plants in your home garden. Cool weather is a time full of cozy sweaters and late summer dishes that use up all your garden veggies. This could also be the perfect opportunity to learn when to plant Brussel sprouts.
The Brussel sprouts growing season is a little more complicated than some other crops you choose to grow in the spring and fall. You might be able to buy these plants at the grocery store year-round, yet they never taste as good as when you have a late fall harvest after a long growing season.
Figuring out when to plant Brussel sprout seeds changes depending on where you live. These veggies are not fans of hot weather, so those living in southern growing zones have very different planting times than those living in northern regions.
This Brussels sprouts article will help you find the best time to plant Brussel sprouts, along with some of the most popular cultivars to choose from.
- Facts about Brussels Sprouts
- Cultivars to Plant During the Brussels Sprouts Growing Season
- When to Plant Brussel Sprouts
Facts about Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are an odd-looking vegetable. It looks almost as if a bunch of mini cabbages grows along a thick, central stalk. As a welcomed member of the cabbage family, it makes sense why they look and taste so similar.
They are related to collards, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi. With the true name of Brassica oleracea, Brussels sprouts were first cultivated around the 16th century and named after their cultivation location in Brussels, Belgium.
Although most gardeners grow these delicious plants as annuals, they are biennial. These cole crops aren’t prevalent in most home gardens because they aren’t easy to grow and have a long Brussels sprouts growing season.
It takes nearly 100 days for them to be ready to harvest. Because of this, a fall or early winter harvest is usually best. Better yet, the first fall frost is said to improve the flavor of each sprout.
Knowing when to plant Brussels sprout seeds is crucial to the success of these plants. You must have the timing right, keep them cool all summer long, and give them lots of water. Let’s not forget about protecting them from all sorts of pests and diseases.
Over many generations, these plants have been bred in a variety of ways to highlight different features. Some of these cultivars might work better for you, depending on what you’re looking for and where you live.
Cultivars to Plant During the Brussels Sprouts Growing Season
There are numerous cultivars of Brussels sprouts to choose between. Even though they are hardy in USDA hardiness zones three through nine, they all require cool weather to mature correctly. Here are some of our favorite cultivars.
Brussels sprouts aren’t always the same size. Sometimes cooks prefer working with smaller sprouts rather than big ones. The Jade Cross cultivar is the perfect choice if you like to eat little sprouts that are a maximum of one inch wide.
These are ideal for those who like to freeze their veggies and eat them regularly throughout the winter. These tiny buttons keep their taste for long periods and even taste better after they’ve had time to chill out for a while. Because of their miniscule size, they also freeze and cook much faster than other sprout varieties.
Long Island Improved – Frost Tolerant
Even though all Brussels sprout cultivars enjoy cold weather, the Long Island Improved is one of the cultivars that is very tolerant of frost. These are the sprouts for you if you don’t plan to harvest your crops until the winter.
This is another reason why they are one of the most sought-after choices on the market today. Long Island Improved Brussels sprouts have medium-sized heads and a nutty, buttery flavor.
The Royal Marvel sprouts are known for their uniform growth and small projections rich in vitamin C. You might consider growing this type if harvesting is your least favorite activity of the Brussel sprouts growing season.
Because they are evenly spaced, it is easier to get your hands in there and have room to remove each sprout from the leaf axils. Freezing Brussel sprouts of the Royal Marvel variety is an excellent way to store them.
Rubine – Colorful Brussels Sprouts
If you’re looking for a bit more color, the heirloom Rubine sprouts are the best option. This plant features dark purple and green heads with large sprouts. They are rich in flavor and perform better when you plant them in the very early spring.
Catskill Brussels sprouts were developed in the 1940s in upstate New York. These are a newer variety but are known for their extra-large, two-inch heads capable of growing on a very compact stalk.
Don’t rely on them if you are looking for a high yield. Instead, savor their rich flavor and utilize their ability to hold up in the freezer.
Churchill – Fast-Growing
Some people are simply looking to harvest the Brussels sprouts as soon as possible. The variety that matures the quickest is most likely Churchill sprouts. While they don’t always have the best yields, you can expect to be eating the sprouts in under 90 days.
If you love to garden, you probably value the flavor of your crops more than anything. The Diablo cultivar might take more than 110 days to mature, but the wait is worth it.
This plant is said to have the sweetest sprouts that withstand freezing temperatures at the beginning of winter.
When to Plant Brussel Sprouts
Figuring out when to plant Brussel sprout seeds can be a challenge. Here is a general timeline for when to plant Brussels sprouts based on where you live. This basic timeline also applies for when to plant celery and other root vegetables that are cool-season crops, too.
When to Plant Brussel Sprout Seeds
Keep in mind that starting Brussels sprouts from seeds or when to plant beets from seeds instead of transplants could extend the time it takes for them to grow. Refer to your seed packet and find the days to maturity section that gives you this information.
Areas with colder winters should plan to harvest their crops in mid-fall or early winter. Places with warm or mild winters should plant sprouts for a mid or late-winter harvest.
You may sow your Brussels sprout seeds directly into the garden or start them indoors. Starting seedlings inside is usually an excellent way to protect them from the summer heat in higher growing zones.
How to Plant Brussels Sprouts
Prepare your planting site before you start transplanting seedlings. Work in a few inches of fresh organic matter to create fertile soil. Because they grow incredibly tall, the plants might require some staking.
If sowing seeds, keep spacing two to three inches apart. Plant transplant 12 to 24 inches from one another. Water both seeds and transplants well once in the ground. Ensure you are planting in an area with full sun.
Start fertilizing the soil with nitrogen-rich products every three to four weeks. Mulch or cover the ground with a black plastic bag to keep weeds at bay.
Cover crops with a floating row cover to protect from their biggest pests like cutworms, cabbage loopers, aphids, cabbage worms, and cabbage root maggot.
Refrain from overwatering. Soggy soil leads to diseases like powdery mildew and clubroot, making leaves start yellowing and eventually dying. Give Brussels sprouts about one inch of water per square foot every week. Do not disturb the shallow roots once planted.
Harvesting and Storing Brussels Sprouts
Learning when to plant Brussels sprouts is only half the fun. The sprouts mature from the bottom up. Harvest the lower sprouts when they are about an inch in diameter.
If you receive a moderate frost, pull the entire stalk, including the roots, and hang the sprout stalk upside down in a cool, dry place for a month before using them. Do not wash sprouts until you are ready to eat them.
Wash your harvest of fresh sprouts with cool water and set them on a paper towel to dry. Cut each sprout in half and then put them in a large bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the sprouts and toss them so that every piece is covered. Add more oil if necessary.
Toss the veggies with salt and pepper to taste. Turn your oven on to 425°F and roast the sprouts for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through.
The Brussels sprouts growing season is one of the trickiest parts of gardening. These veggies might be a little finicky about the weather, but there isn’t a better feeling than knowing you put the work into raising such a challenging plant.
If learning when to plant Brussel sprouts has led you to your first gardening success, share these tips about when to plant Brussels sprout seeds on Facebook and Pinterest.