Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea gemmifera)
How to plant and grow Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea gemmifera)
Cauliflower is a plant of the same species as cabbage but it produces a head consisting of poorly developed flower buds. Cultivars with white heads are the most common, but there are cultivars with orange, purple and green heads, including the so-called Romanesco broccoli, which are in fact cauliflowers and not broccoli.
Plant profileCommon name: Cauliflower
Scientific name: Brassica oleracea gemmifera, Brassica oleracea gemmifera
Plant type: Vegetables
Sunlight: Full Sun
Moisture: Moist but well drained
Considered more difficult to grow than other cabbages, cauliflowers are less tolerant of extreme temperature conditions and inadequate growing conditions, such as lack of water and nutrient deficiencies in the soil.
Where does cauliflower grows best?
It is considered a typical vegetable for a cold or mild climate.
Cauliflower is less tolerant of low and high temperatures than other plants of its kind, such as cabbage. The ideal temperature for cultivation is between 15°C and 20°C.
It should be grown with full sun for at least a few hours a day.
What type of soil does cauliflower prefer?
This plant needs well-drained, fertile soil, with good nitrogen availability, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 6 and 7.
Cauliflower needs the micronutrient boron to develop properly. Symptoms of boron deficiency include hollow stems and small, compact heads, and may have brown spots similar to burns.
If the soil is deficient in boron, it is necessary to use a fertilizer containing this micronutrient or apply borax or boric acid to the soil, or alternatively spray the leaves of the plants with a solution of boric acid. Such procedures should be done only when really necessary, as excess boron in the soil is also harmful.
How often should I water cauliflower?
Cauliflower must be watered frequently, so that the soil is always moist, but not being soaked. Cauliflower is very sensitive to the lack of water in the soil.
How to sow and plant
The seeds are usually sown in seed trays, small pots or beds, and are transplanted to the final location when the seedlings have 4 to 6 leaves.
The seeds can also be sown directly in the vegetable garden, subsequently removing excess plants in order to reach the recommended spacing for the cultivar used.
The seeds can be sown to a depth of approximately 1 cm and generally germinate in less than a week or two.
The distance between the planting lines can be 60 to 90 cm. Summer cultivars can be spaced 45 to 60 cm apart.
Winter cultivars need a spacing of 50 to 75 cm. For mini cauliflowers use a spacing of 15 to 40 cm between plants.
Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.
For white cauliflowers it is usually necessary to cover the head of the cauliflower with some leaves of the plant as it grows, tying them with an elastic band or string.
Heads that are exposed to the sun become yellowish or greenish yellow. The exception is some cultivars that have leaves that naturally grow upwards, covering the head, so this procedure is generally not necessary.
The time required to harvest the cauliflower varies widely, and may occur from 60 to 280 days after sowing, depending on the cultivar.
Harvest the cauliflower while it is firm and compact in appearance. When the buds of the head start to separate, it has passed the point of harvest and the obtained cauliflower will be of low quality.
To harvest, cut the stem to keep some leaves to help protect the head, as it can be easily damaged. Cauliflower leaves can also be eaten.