Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea in the genus Brassica, which is in the Brassicaceae family. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head is eaten – the edible white flesh sometimes called "curd". The botanical name of cauliflower is Brassica oleracea var. botrytis.

Cauliflower originally came from the Mediterranean region and arrived in Europe around the end of the 15th century. Around the mid-16th century, this vegetable achieved recognition in France and Northern Europe. Today, India, China, Italy, France, and the United States are among the top producers of cauliflower throughout the world.

Table of Contents


12 - 30 inches

Width-Circumference (Avg)

12 - 24 inches

Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.0

Growth Nutrition of Cauliflower

Cauliflower needs a rich soil filled with nitrogen (as do most cabbage plants) in order to grow. Treat your planting site with aged manure or compost to supply the necessary organic matter and fill your soil with nutrients.

Cauliflowers do best in very fertile soil, and digging in a bucketful of well-rotted manure or organic matter before planting, and raking in a high potassium general fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4, at a rate of three handfuls per square metre/yard, will help growth.

Varieties of Cauliflower


White cauliflower is the most common and easily availbable. It has a white head encircled by green foliage. It is most readily available in food stores, whereas the other hues are more challenging to find.

  • Snowball: smooth, white, medium 6-inch heads; a good yield throughout the growing season.

  • Snow crown f1: One of the easier-to-grow white varieties with some frost-tolerance and a short season; matures in 50 to 55 days.


Green cauliflower, sometimes known as “broccoflower,” contains chlorophyll. It may resemble broccoli more than cauliflower since its florets have spikes. Also, green cauliflowers are more fibrous than the different variants.

  • Green goddess f1: Lime green varieties with nice flavor and no blanching required; matures in 60 to 65 days.


Purple cauliflower is the healthiest option, with numerous advantages. The purple hue is due to the antioxidants called anthocyanins. These are the pigments present in various other plants and plant-based products, including red cabbage and red wine. Purple cauliflower helps to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation.

When cooked, purple cauliflowers may turn light green.

  • Di sicilia violetta: Also called violetta of Sicily or some other derivation; beautiful purple, Italian heirloom with a sweet, nutty flavor; matures in 70 to 80 days.

  • Graffiti: purple; tends to be milder and sweeter than the white varieties.


Orange cauliflower is called “cheddar” due to its hue resembling cheese. Its flavour is mild, creamy and slightly sweet. Unlike purple cauliflowers, which lose their colour when cooked, orange cauliflowers usually become more intense in colour when cooked.

The health advantages of orange florets are due to beta-carotene in them. Orange cauliflower contains 25 times more vitamin A than its counterparts, which makes it nutritious.

Planting Cauliflower

When to Plant Cauliflower

  • Cauliflower grows best as a fall crop, but can be grown in spring, too.

  • Recommend buying cauliflower seedlings (aka “transplants”) versus starting them from seed, as cauliflower can be finicky.

  • Spring Planting:

  • If you start from seed, sow seeds indoors 4 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date. Sow in rows 3 to 6 inches apart and up to 1/2 of an inch deep. Water consistently during germination and growth.

  • Plant seedlings outdoors 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date.

  • Fall Planting:

  • Plant a fall crop 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date but after daytime temperatures are regularly below 75°F.

  • Shade plants from the hot summer sun, if necessary.

Choosing and Preparing the Planting Site

  • Soil needs to be very rich in organic matter; mix aged manure and/or compost into the bed before planting.

  • As an alternative, apply 5-10-10 fertilizer to the planting site. Fertile soil holds in moisture to prevent heads from “buttoning.”

How to Plant Cauliflower

  • Set plants 18 to 24 inches apart with 30 inches between rows.

  • In early spring, be ready to protect plants from frost by covering them with old milk jugs, if necessary. Extreme cold can halt growth and/or form buttons.

  • Add mulch to conserve moisture.

Growing Cauliflower

How to Grow Cauliflower

  • Cauliflower dislikes any interruption to its growth. Change, in the form of temperature, moisture, soil nutrition, or insects, can cause the plants to develop a head prematurely or ruin an existing one.

  • Water regularly with 2 inches of water per square foot each week; even with normal rainfall, this usually requires supplemental watering.

  • For best growth, side-dress the plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer 3 t o 4 weeks after transplanting.

  • Note that the cauliflower will start out as a loose head and that it takes time for the head to fully form. Many varieties take at least 75 to 85 days from transplant. Be patient!

  • Brown heads indicate a boron deficiency in the soil. Drench with 1 tablespoon of borax in 1 gallon of water. (Avoid getting boron on other plants.) Or, provide liquid seaweed extract immediately; repeat every 2 weeks until symptoms disappear. In the future, add more compost to the soil.

  • For white varieties, pink heads can indicate too much sun exposure or temperature fluctuations. Purple hues can be due to stress or low soil fertility.

Blanching Cauliflower Heads

When the curd (the white head) is 2 to 3 inches in diameter, blanch it: Tie the outer leaves together over the head and secure with a rubber band, tape, or twine to keep light out. (This is not necessary for self-blanching or colored varieties). The plants are usually ready for harvest 7 to 12 days after blanching.


How to Harvest Cauliflower

  • Plants are usually ready to harvest in about 50 to 100 days, depending on variety, or 7 to 12 days after blanching.

  • When the heads are compact, white, and firm, then it is time to harvest them. Ideally, the heads will grow to 6 to 8 inches in diameter.

  • 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 already started to open up, they will not improve and should be harvested immediately.

  • If the cauliflower has a coarse appearance, it is past maturity and should be tossed.

How to Store Cauliflower

  • Store heads in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should last for about a week.

  • For long-term storage, you can also freeze or pickle the heads. To freeze, cut into 1-inch-bite pieces. Blanch for 3 minutes in lightly salted water. Cool in an ice bath for 3 minutes, drain, and package. Seal and freeze.

Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, cauliflower is susceptible to all the usual cole crop pests, and there are many, including cabbage maggots, cabbage loopers, and cabbage worms. Young transplants are also attractive to aphids and flea beetles, especially if grown in the spring. Groundhogs are exceptionally fond of cole crops. Fencing or caging is the best deterrence for the rodents.

Cole crops are also problem-prone when it come to diseases, with blackleg, black rot, and club root leading the pack. It's very important to not plant cole crops in the same place, year after year, and to clean up all debris at the end of the season, to prevent diseases overwintering in the soil.

Another common cauliflower problem is leaf tip dieback and distortion. This is generally caused by a lack of boron in the soil. Kelp or seaweed fertilizer should help prevent this.

Benefits of Cauliflower

  • It keeps your bones healthy. Cauliflower contains vitamin C, which helps with collagen production, and vitamin K, which may help prevent bone loss.

  • It helps with detox. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain Indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient that has been shown to aid the liver in its detox functions.

  • It aids in reducing high blood pressure. Eating cauliflower can help boost HDL cholesterol (the good kind) levels and lower blood pressure.

  • It strengthens your immune system. Choline, a nutrient found in cauliflower and other vegetables, helps with gastrointestinal health. Also, glutathione is an antioxidant that helps fight off infection.

  • It helps reduce the risk of cancer. Some studies have shown that Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties, help protect cells from DNA damage and may also help inactivate carcinogens.

  • Can Help Improve Brain Health. Cauliflower contains choline and phosphorous, which are both effective in repairing cell membranes. This can be essential for the efficient functioning of the brain and nervous system for transmitting nerve signals. In addition to this, the possible presence of potassium and vitamin B6 in cauliflower can play an important role in maintaining brain health and promoting proper communication in the nerves.


  • Cauliflower leaves are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, braising, sautéing, or stir-frying. They can be added to soups, stews, and salads, or brushed with extra virgin olive oil and roasted as a vegetable dish.

  • The head or curd of cauliflower is commonly eaten as food.

  • It is also used as medicine.

  • May be processed for freezing or pickling.

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