Growing Guide
 
plant thumbnail

Brussels sprouts

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Cabbage Family

Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera
Brassicaceae Family

This cool-season crop is most flavorful after it is “kissed” by frost. Keep plantings moist and well-mulched during the heat of summer, and you will be rewarded with sprouts until Christmas or beyond.

arrow
arrow
arrow
Site Characteristics
Sunlight:
  • full sun
Can tolerate light shade but will slow maturity.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter, pH 6.0 to 7.5. Can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. Needs plentiful, consistent moisture.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Biennial grown as an annual.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult

Requires good soil, timely planting and protection from pests.

Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 1.5 to 2 feet

Foliage color: medium green

Foliage and sprouts have bluish cast.

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: upright

Special Considerations
Tolerates:
  • frost - Frost improves flavor. Harvest continues until Christmas or even later in some warmer areas.
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Not known in the wild. Descended from wild Mediterranean kale.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 45 F to 85 F - Will germinate at soil temperatures as low as 40 F.

Days to emergence: 5 to 8

Maintenance and care:
Grow in summer for fall harvest, similar to a fall cabbage or broccoli crop.

Direct seed about 4 months before expected fall frost. Plant seed 3 to 4 inches apart, to inch deep in rows about 30 inches apart. Thin plants to about 18 inches apart.

Start transplants in late May and transplant in late June or early July. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart.

Plants have shallow root systems. Avoid even shallow cultivation. Mulch to protect roots, reduce weed competition and conserve moisture.

Use floating row covers to help protect from early insect infestations.

To help reduce disease, do not plant Brussels sprouts or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.

Pests:
Cabbage aphids - A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.

Cabbage root maggot - White maggot larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants later on.

Cabbageworms - Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.

Flea Beetles - Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds.

Cutworms - Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.

Other pests:
Cabbage loopers
Slugs
Nematodes

Diseases:
Clubroot - Locate plants in a part of the garden different from previous year's location. If soil is infested, add lime to raise pH of soil to 7.2
Varieties
Browse brussels sprout varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Shorter plants tend to mature earlier and be more cold tolerant. Days to harvest varies from about 80 to 130 days.

Varieties recommended for New York include:

Oliver
Rubine Red