How To Grow Cauliflower

Plant Type: Annual
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. botrysis
Light: Full sun
Soil Type: Well drained – high in organic material
Soil Temperature: 50°+
ph Range: 6.0 – 7.5
Watering: Consistent
Plant (Payson): April1 – May 15 / August 1 – September 15
Planting Method: Seed or transplant
Germination (days): 4 – 7
Transplant: Recommended
Maturity(days): 50 – 80
Common Pests: Cabbage Worm, Aphids
Common Diseases: Clubroot, Cabbage yellows

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Only the head is eaten. Although a member of the cabbage family, cauliflowers require more care and attention to be grown successfully.

Cauliflowers are best known for their central white heads, but they also come in shades of greens, purple, and gold. They can be grown all year round if the correct variety is chosen for specific times of the year. Always pick varieties suited to our area—several varieties are available with different maturity times and heat tolerance so you can have harvests at different times of the year. Check with your local nursery for recommendations.

preparing soil for cauliflowerGG Black Mountain c
Till the soil to a depth of 10 inches and add manure or compost and nitrogen fertilizer. Growing cauliflower requires a slightly acid soil with a pH of approximately 6.3 to 6.5. Do not plant cauliflower in the same area of your garden that you have grown cabbage and other cabbage related plants in the last two years. Practice crop rotation to improve nutrient uptake and to prevent soil borne diseases. Because cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage attract the same insects, do not plant them too close together to prevent insect infestations from plant to plant.

Cauliflower prefers consistently cool temperatures with temperatures in the 60s, otherwise, it forms small button-size irregular shaped heads—rather than forming one, nice white head. Using starter plants will give you a jump start on the growing season.
Plant starter plants 18 inches apart in rows spaced 24 to 30 inches apart. Care should be taken to prevent the leaves from wilting from wind or improper watering since this will damage the plant. After initially watering the starter plants, carefully mulch to retain moisture. Normal rainfall is usually not dependable so supplemental consistent watering will be necessary.

Cauliflower requires full sun for at least six hours per day, however keep in mind that too much heat or cold will seriously affect growth and quality of the heads. Cauliflower plants are also fussy about nutrients and soil ph. They are heavy feeders so make sure you fertilize your plants, especially after transplanting, and plan on fertilizing with a nitrogen rich fertilizer every three weeks.

When the cauliflower heads are about three inches wide the plants need to be blanched to protect the head from the sun. Blanching involves tying the outer leaves over the head of the cauliflower plant. Failure to do this will result in the head turning yellow or green and acquiring a bitter taste.


Growing cauliflower from seeds can be time and labor intensive. For summer harvest sow seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last hard freeze.

If direct sowing into your garden, when plants reach 5 inches tall, thin until the plants are 18-24 inches apart. If they are to be transplanted elsewhere in the garden try not to disturb the roots any more than you have to.

For fall harvest you can sow the seeds directly into your garden when the temperature is consistently 75 degrees F (sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep). Check the number of days to maturity and count back to determine the best time to plant. After you sow them, keep them moist and thin them out to desired spacing once they grow.

row of planted cauliflower
cauliflower seed germination

cauliflower seeds 2


Cauliflower plants will need consistently moist soil to do their best. Because they are temperature sensitive continue mulching to keep the soil at a consistent temperature. Anything that interrupts their growth will negatively affect head formation and flavor.

Keep soil moist through out the season.

Being heavy feeders, add an organic fertilizer when transplanting into the garden. Fertilize with a side dressing 3 weeks after transplanting and repeat every 2-3 weeks.

Mulch to prevent weeds, slow evaporation, and cool the soil.

Clubroot, and black rot.
Aphids, cabbage worms

It will take 75 to 85 days for most varieties to mature after transplanting. After harvesting, remove the entire plant and root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; carefully place those with insect infestation and soil borne diseases in the dumpster.

Cut the heads off the plant with a large knife. Be sure to leave some of the leaves around the head to keep it protected. If the heads are too small but have started to open up, they will not improve and will become bitter and should be harvested as soon as possible. If the head has a coarse appearance, it is too mature and should be discarded—it will be bitter. Cauliflower can be stored in a plastic bag for up to 7-10 days. For long term storage you can freeze or pickle the heads.

Helpful Links

To aid in your gardening success, here are some useful, trusted links for more information on cauliflower.

How To Mulch Your Garden | Types of Mulch - The Almanac

What Is Mulch | How To Use 8 Types in Your Garden - The Spruce

How To Mulch Your Garden In The Fall - The Spruce

Please remember Payson Community Garden is an organic garden. Some of these sites may contain recommendations for non-organic products. Please see this website or Plant Fair Nursery website for a list of recommended products
that meet the organic standards of Payson Community Garden.

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