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BRASSICA oleracea (Italica Group)

Image of Brassica oleracea (Italica Group)

Felder Rushing

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

BRASSICA oleracea( Italica Group)

Plant Common Name

Broccoli

General Description

One of the most familiar green vegetables, broccoli (also known as Italian or sprouting broccoli) is an excellent choice for the garden. Typically grown as an annual, this cool season vegetable traces its ancestry to Brassica oleracea, a fleshy-leaved, short-lived perennial from coastal areas of western and southern Europe. It is grown for its fleshy heads of flower buds, which are harvested and eaten before the flowers open.

Some broccoli varieties produce a large central head with relatively few side shoots; others produce an abundance of smaller heads. The heads are borne on thick erect stalks above whorls of long leathery blue-green leaves. Broccoli varieties usually have green heads, although purple-headed cultivars are available. Hybrids between cauliflower and broccoli are also available; they typically have yellow-green or purple heads. Plants do poorly in hot weather, becoming lanky and flowering ("bolting") rather than remaining in bud. Depending on the variety, broccoli takes 55 to 100 days from sowing to harvest.

This cool weather crop prefers full sun and fertile, organic-rich garden soil with ample drainage. Broccoli should be planted as seed or transplants in early spring before temperatures heat up, or in summer for fall harvest. It makes an excellent winter or early spring crop for areas with mild winters. Harvest heads promptly to prevent bolting and to initiate development of side shoots.

Broccoli 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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 11

  • 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, Partial Sun

  • Height

    12"-36" / 30.5cm - 91.4cm (24)

  • Width

    12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm (18)

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • 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

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark 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

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes