Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
Gerald L. Klingaman
BRASSICA rapa( Chinensis Group)
Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Choy Sum, Pak Choi
Characterized by chard-like clusters of leaves with thick, white to pale green leaf stalks, the Chinensis group of brassicas includes pak choi, bok choy and Chinese and Japanese cabbage. It is one of several groups within Brassica rapa, which is Eurasian in origin but is now cultivated worldwide. All in the Chinensis group were selected from different regions of Asia and many cultivars exist.
These annual or biennial, cool season plants form loose rosettes of upright green leaves with white stalks and midribs. Numerous varieties are available, differing in the size (calf- to knee-high), foliage color (dark green, yellow or purple) and texture (smooth or frilly). All grow best in cool weather, though some are relatively heat-tolerant. Tall sprays of bright yellow flowers appear in spring or summer, often in the second season of growth. Rattlebox seed capsules follow, opening to scatter many reddish-brown to black seeds.
These cool weather crops prefer full sun and moderately fertile, humus-rich, slightly acid soil with ample drainage. They generally mature quickly, from 30 to 80 days, depending on variety. Sow them in early spring before temperatures heat up or in late summer for fall harvest. In areas with mild climates these frost-hardy veggies make an excellent winter crop. Hot weather will cause them to flower ("bolt"), which usually results in bitter-tasting, dwindling plants.
These brassicas are not heavy feeders and may not need fertilizer if grown in rotation with nitrogen-fixing legumes. Some are shade-tolerant and good for planting between taller vegetables. The delicious, variable greens are generally easy to grow and very tasty if harvested when temperatures are cool. Use the young leaves in salads and the mature leaves and stems for steaming or stir-frying.
9 - 3
6 - 11
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
Full Sun, Partial Sun
6"-36" / 15.2cm - 91.4cm
6"-24" / 15.2cm - 61.0cm
Clay, Loam, Sand
Spring, Fall, Winter
White, Green, Dark Green
Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Wildflower
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