Cauliflower or broccoli 'Romanesco' is the glamorous cousin of the humble cabbage family.


It's Italian in origin, with distinctive lime green heads made up of numerous geometric florets. It's a beautiful and unusual vegetable in its own right and is becoming increasingly popular. The flavour is similar to that of cauliflower, but is milder, nuttier and has a crunchier texture. It can be eaten hot or cold in salads.

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Follow the advice in our practical Grow Guide for a delicious crop of romanesco.

Where to grow romanesco

Planting out romanesco
Planting young romanesco plants

Like other brassicas, romanesco thrives in a fairly heavy, alkaline soil – if your soil is acidic, add lime. Choose a sheltered sunny spot in soil that has been prepared in advance by digging in well rotted farmyard manure. Tread the soil down to firm it in. Plant young romanesco plants deeply, and very firmly, to give each plant stability and protect against rocking on windy days. Water well after planting.

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Video: Monty Don demonstrates how to plant romanesco

Growing romanesco from seed

Sowing romanesco seeds in a modular tray
Sowing romanesco seeds in a modular tray

Sow seeds in late spring either in a prepared seedbed in early summer, or in pots or seed trays in free-draining compost. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to approximately 7cm apart. When they have grown to 10cm, transplant them to their spot in the vegetable patch, planting 45cm apart in rows 60cm apart.

More advice on sowing seeds

Caring for romanesco

Gardening with a clear conscience - mulching romanesco with crushed oyster shells
Mulching romanesco with crushed oyster shells

Water plants regularly, particularly in dry weather. Feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser when plants are established and growing well. This will boost growth and help the formation of the intricate green heads.

Harvesting romanesco

Romanesco heads are ready to harvest in the Autumn, from September onwards. You can wait until you have larger flower heads, or harvest smaller flowerheads, as with sprouting broccoli, and get a second crop.

Storing and cooking romanesco

Romanesco is best eaten freshly harvested. However you can store for up to two weeks in a refrigerator or cool larder. Not sure how to cook romanesco? Try this tasty romanesco freekeh recipe from our friends at Olive Magazine. It can also be roasted, blanched or sautéed.

Romanesco: problem-solving

Young romanesco plants
Splitting and potting on romanesco seedlings

Protect young seedlings and plants from slugs and snails and when you transplant them, make sure you net plants against pigeon damage. Club root can also be a problem, as for all members of the Brassica family.


Romanesco varieties to grow

  • Brassica oleracea var. botrytis 'Romanesco' – the classic Italian romanesco, with typical pointed, patterned lime-green heads