Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis) is a great-tasting vegetable. The part we eat is the tightly closed head of the broccoli’s flower cluster. Does the plant die after you harvest the center head?
Many types of broccoli have more than one flower cluster. Here is what you need to know to make that happen.
Does Broccoli Die After Harvest?
Broccoli does not die after harvest. Most varieties of broccoli produce flower clusters on side shoots that can be harvested. This continues until the weather gets too hot and the broccoli bolts or there is a freeze. Proper care means you can harvest more broccoli.
What Happens to Broccoli After Harvest?
The broccoli plant continues to grow after the central flower buds are cut. Proper watering and fertilization will keep your broccoli plants happy and producing long after the initial harvest. Part of that care begins when you harvest.
You must harvest the central flower cluster and the side cluster properly so you do not injure the broccoli plant. If you injure it when harvesting, the plant will not make as much as if you treat it gently.
How do You Harvest Broccoli so It Keeps Growing?
You will need a sharp knife to harvest your broccoli. Make sure it is clean as you do not want to introduce diseases into the plant when you harvest it. You can sterilize your knife in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.
Harvest the central floral cluster when it is three to six inches in diameter but before any buds open.
Cut the floral cluster free and include about half of the stem. This will encourage the broccoli to grow lots of side shoots.
Be gentle with the plant so you do not damage it. Harvest early in the morning so that the cut stem will scab over before the heat of the day or nightfall.
How Many Times will a Broccoli Plant Produce?
The broccoli plant’s productivity depends on the type of broccoli you plant, the care it receives, and the weather.
Most broccoli available today will produce many side shoots. Usually, the plant will continue to produce floral clusters until it gets too hot or, in the fall, freezes.
What to do After Harvesting Broccoli?
It is important to continue caring for the broccoli plant after you harvest so it will put out more floral clusters. Watering and fertilizing the plant properly keeps the broccoli plant healthy.
Like all vegetables, broccoli needs at least an inch of water a week. As the weather gets hotter, water an inch of water twice a week.
Do not let the soil become dry, but do not overwater, either. Wet soils can cause root rot.
Right after you harvest the central floral cluster, fertilize with a 5-10-15 fertilizer made for vegetables.
Repeat the fertilizer regularly while the broccoli is growing. Follow the label directions. Do not add too much nitrogen to the soil as the broccoli will put on a lot of foliage but will not flower well.
Bolting means the broccoli plant puts out a flower stalk. Once this happens, the plant concentrates on producing flowers and seeds. The flower clusters become bitter and are no longer good to eat.
Bolting is caused by several things, but foremost by heat. When the days lengthen and it gets hot broccoli bolts. You can slow the process down by pinching off any flower stalk that starts to grow. Eventually, however, the plant will bolt. It is best to pull up that broccoli plant when it bolts.
In conclusion, the broccoli plant does not die after harvest. It will continue to produce side shoots with flower clusters on them until the weather gets too hot or the plant freezes. Proper care will keep your broccoli producing long after the first harvest.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are asked the same questions about growing broccoli over and over. So here are the most commonly asked questions.
Does Broccoli Grow Back Every Year?
No, broccoli does not grow back each year. You must replant it each year.
How Long Does It Take Broccoli to Grow?
Time from transplant varies by variety. Some produce the initial head as quickly as 60 days, while others take as long as 85 days.
The tag on the plant will tell you how long it will be before the broccoli is ready to harvest. When starting from seed, add the time from seeding to transplanting outside to the time to harvest.
When Is It Too Late to Harvest Broccoli?
Once the flowers open and the flower stalk forms, it is too late to harvest the broccoli. It becomes tough and bitter.
How Do I Harvest Broccoli Seeds?
If your broccoli bolts, it is possible to let it grow and harvest the seeds. This only works if you are growing an open-pollinated variety of broccoli. Hybrid broccoli does not produce seed that breeds true.
After the broccoli flower is pollinated, the petals fall off and thin seed pods form. Over a few weeks to a few months, the seed pods become plump and full of seed. The broccoli plant turns yellow, then brown.
When the seed pods are brown, pick them. Remove the seeds from the pods and store them in the dark in a glass jar.
One broccoli plant produces enough seed for at least the next season and sometimes for seasons after that.