A lot of plants that we grow in the garden are plants that will continue to produce even after we harvest from them. But broccoli is a little bit different. You might be wondering if broccoli will regrow after cutting, and that’s exactly what we plan to answer in this article.
Although broccoli will not form another large head once you cut it, it will continue to put out side shoots which are just as delicious.
I’ll go over everything you need to know about harvesting broccoli heads as well as how to make them grow more side shoots. In the end, I’ll also discuss when it’s time to finally pull your broccoli for the season.
How to make broccoli regrow -a.k.a. develop side shoots
The key to having your broccoli regrow healthy side shoots is to harvest it properly, and we’ll show you how to do just that:
To harvest broccoli, make sure you have a good, sharp set of garden shears. Broccoli stems can grow to be pretty thick and you don’t want to be hacking away at them. Instead, you want a nice clean cut.
Cut your broccoli head so that there are about 3 or 4 inches of stem still left on the plant. This is where the side shoots will start to grow in about 2-3 weeks, and they will continue to grow for several weeks.
Leaves attached to the main stem of the plant will develop into the side shoots that you’re looking for.
Although your broccoli will not produce another large head like the one you just harvested, the side shoots are just as delicious.
Side shoots are just much smaller broccoli heads and are a bit more tender than the main head. This is what makes them so yummy, in my opinion.
You can harvest the side shoots the same way you would harvest the main head. Simply take your garden shears and clip the shoot off. You can cut about 2 to 3 inches of stem off with the shoot too.
If you prefer these smaller, tender shoots, then you may consider growing a variety of sprouting broccoli.
Sprouting broccoli differs from regular broccoli in that it doesn’t form one giant head. Instead, it forms a bunch of smaller sprouts. Similar to the side shoots that develop from regular broccoli varieties.
Sprouting broccoli tastes just like regular broccoli and can be used in many the same ways. Some good sprouting broccoli varieties to try include Sweet Bunch, Atlantis, and Burgundy.
Are broccoli stems and leaves edible?
Yes! All parts of the broccoli plant are edible. Young leaves are tender and delicious and can be enjoyed straight off the plant as a healthy snack or simply thrown in a salad.
You may also consider sauteeing the greens up into a stir fry and serving them over rice. You’ll probably find that broccoli leaves taste pretty similar to kale. This makes sense since they’re in the same family.
Broccoli stems are edible as well although you may find that the thicker stems are a bit woody and harder to eat raw.
Broccoli stems are best added to soups as they can be cooked down and blended to make them more palatable.
When to harvest broccoli?
If you want to get the most out of your broccoli plant, main harvest and side shoots, it’s essential that you know when to plant it and when to harvest it.
You’ll know that your broccoli is ready for harvest when the large central head stops growing. Depending on the variety you grow, broccoli heads can grow to be as big as 8 inches in diameter.
Unless you’re saving it for seeds, you’ll want to harvest your broccoli before it flowers (also known as bolting). Once your broccoli bolts, it will taste pretty bitter and will not be great to eat.
Because broccoli is a cold-season plant, I usually will plant two successions. I’ll plant broccoli in the spring and harvest it in early summer. Then, I’ll plant another batch of broccoli in the later summer and harvest it in the fall.
Broccoli doesn’t do well in the heat of the summer. The hot temperatures will cause most brassicas to bolt, signaling the end of their life and leading to the bitter taste I mentioned above.
When to pull broccoli plants?
Most gardeners will pull their broccoli once the weather starts to turn cold in the late fall. Brassicas are cold tolerant so many gardeners will keep their broccoli in the ground as long as possible.
To prolong your broccoli season, you can set up small caterpillar tunnels to help keep your plants a couple of degrees warmer on very cold nights.
I’ll keep my broccoli in the ground until the frost kills it. For gardeners that live in warmer climates, the frost may never kill it.
In the spring, you may notice that, although the broccoli doesn’t have a head anymore, it’s started to send up small little yellow flowers. This means that the plant is going to seed!
You can either try your hand at seed saving or you can eat the flowers as they are. They go great on salads and taste just like broccoli.
Other brassicas, like kale and collards, can send these flowers up too so be on the lookout for them. Here’s one on my kale plant this spring:
Although broccoli may not be able to produce more than one head for you, it still has a lot of other delicious parts and will continue to regrow and put out side shoots for harvesting.
Just make sure to leave about 3 to 4 inches of stem when you harvest your main broccoli head. This stem is what the side shoots will grow out of.
Lastly, you can even grow special sprouting varieties of broccoli to enjoy the tender shoots all season long. Don’t let any part of your broccoli plant go to waste! Even without the head, it’s all still edible.