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BRASSICA oleracea (Botrytis Group)

Image of Brassica oleracea (Botrytis Group)

Mark A. Miller

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

BRASSICA oleracea( Botrytis Group)

Plant Common Name

Cauliflower

General Description

A pleasure to grow as well as to eat, cauliflower is an excellent choice for the cool-season vegetable garden. Grown as an annual, it traces its ancestry to Brassica oleracea, a fleshy-leaved, short-lived perennial from coastal areas of western and southern Europe. When mature, it produces large, fleshy, central heads of flower buds (called "curds"), which are harvested and eaten before the flowers open. The heads are borne on thick short stalks above whorls of long leathery blue-green leaves. Cauliflower varieties are usually white, although orange cauliflower cultivars are now on the market. Hybrids between cauliflower and broccoli are also available; they typically have yellow-green or purple heads. Cauliflower develops no side shoots, so bears only one crop. Plants do poorly in hot weather, becoming lanky and flowering rather than remaining in bud. Depending on the variety, cauliflower takes 50 to 80 days from sowing to harvest.

This cool weather crop prefers full sun and fertile, organic-rich garden soil with ample drainage. Cauliflower should be planted as seed or transplants in early spring before temperatures heat up, or in summer for fall harvest. It is rewarding to grow and well worth the effort. As with all members of Brassica oleracea, it is susceptible to cabbage loopers and several other types of caterpillars.

The botrytis group of brassicas also includes perennial broccoli, which produces small heads of creamy flower buds on waist-high stems. Look for cultivar 'Nine Star'.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    12"-36" / 30.5cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Western Europe, Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No