London (change)

How to grow purple-sprouting broccoli

You will need

Purple-sprouting broccoli seeds

Good quality, multi-purpose compost

9cm pots



Do it: sow March - April, plant June - August
At its best: October - March
Takes just: 15 minutes


Purple-sprouting broccoli has great flavour, a long harvesting season and is extremely good for you. A single portion provides half your daily requirement of carotenoids, plus high levels of folic acid and vitamins A and C.

If you choose the right varieties, and time your seed sowing well, you can keep harvesting your crops from autumn through to early summer the following year. Purple-sprouting broccoli is extremely hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -12°C, so it’s a good winter crop.

Like other brassicas, purple-sprouting broccoli thrives in a fairly heavy, alkaline soil. Avoid growing it on an exposed site, where the wind will buffet the stems and loosen the soil around the roots.

How to do it

Growing purple-spouting broccoli: Sow seeds into pots


Sow the seeds into small pots or multi-cell trays, using a good quality multi-purpose or loam-based seed and cuttings compost. Once large enough to handle, prick seedlings out and transplant into single 9cm pots, watering in well.

Growing purple-sprouting broccoli: fork over the soil


Fork the soil over, removing large stones, debris and any perennial weeds. Bulky organic matter is essential on lighter soils – even on heavy soil, it’s worth adding to improve moisture retention and texture. Brassicas dislike loose soil, so firm lightly with your foot.

Growing purple-sprouting broccoli: transplant out when 7-9cm tall


Transplant out when the plants are 7-9cm tall. Water them well before removing from their pots, and plant them 50-60cm apart, with a similar distance between the rows. Water again after planting and firm each rootball in well. Grow six plants if you want enough broccoli to feed a family of four.

Growing purple-sprouting broccoli: keep watering well


Keep the soil moist at all times and remove weeds to reduce competition. If growth is slow and stems of purple buds fail to appear, use a liquid feed to prompt them.

Our tip

Take only a few spears from each plant when you harvest, as this will encourage more to form. If you strip all the spears, the plant often fails to produce more.

Give winter protection using fleece or micromesh over a frame or cage. This encourages early crops, and keeps pigeons and cabbage whites away.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to grow purple-sprouting broccoli
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

mimly 28/07/2013 at 11:16

I want to plant some broccoli as advised I can do at this time of year, to last through winter/be ready early spring, but any of the seeds I can find online say to plant in March/April! Firstly, is it ok for me to start growing them from seed at this time of year (I have a small greenhouse to do this in) then plant them out in a few weeks (mid/end August)? If so, what kind? Any kind of purple sprouting? Or 'early'? And disregard the packet instructions? I'm a very armature gardener and am unsure about many steps of the planting process! If anyone can recommend any other vegetables I can start from seed now, then plant out in a raised bed to grow over winter/be ready in spring, that would be much appreciated. Thank you.

nutcutlet 28/07/2013 at 11:20

i'm not a veg grower but i thought purple sprouting brocoli stood over winter to be harvested in spring. that's what i see happening in other peoples' gardens

BobTheGardener 28/07/2013 at 11:50

Nutcutlet is right.  There are several varieties but the ones I think you mean are sown and grown in just the same way (and at the same time) as any other brassica, but they go dormant when the weather gets cold.  Being fully hardy they survive the winter.  They then start throwing up spears in early spring, which are produced from the stored energy in the fully grown plant.  Effectively it is a biennial - grows one year and flowers, seeds and dies the next.  We simply eat the flowers before they open.

Welshonion 28/07/2013 at 11:50

Chard will stand over winter.  Also look out for leek plants. Look on the MoreVeg site for things you can plant now.

If you are an inexperienced gardener it is always best to follow the instruction on the packet.  Purple Sprouting is sown in March/April.  If you sow now they will not be ready to plant out in mid-August.

I would save your un-opened packet until next year.


Mike40 24/02/2016 at 18:22

It would be useful to have a chart of suggested planting times and varieties to enable a November to spring cropping. Can anyone create one?

See more comments...