A Perfect Guide for Growing Cabbage Heads

6 Min Read

Cabbage is one of the most popular crops cultivated by home gardeners, and most veggie patches can accommodate one or two types. However, many people find the results a little disappointing.

Homegrown cabbages sometimes have loose, ill-defined heads, or possibly none at all, in contrast to store-bought varieties, which have compact, dense heads. Do you like your cabbage raw? And so do we. Cabbage produces huge, nutrient-dense vegetable heads and is a simple vegetable to grow. We’ll give you an example!

Cabbage Overview

Common NameCabbage
Botanical NameBrassica oleracea
Plant TypeVegetable, biennial, annual
Mature Size1–2 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull
Soil TypeLoamy, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic, natural
Hardiness Zones2–11 (USDA)
Native AreaEurope

How to Plant Cabbage

When to Plant

Cabbage is a cool-weather crop that can be planted outside a few weeks before your area’s last spring frost, provided the soil is workable. It cannot tolerate temperatures beyond 80 degrees Fahrenheit; it will either bolt or wither from the heat.

You can start seedlings six to eight weeks before the latest predicted day of spring frost in your area. You can also sow seeds in the garden in late summer, once the heat of the day has passed, for an autumn harvest.

Selecting a Planting Site

Select a sunny area for your cabbage in the garden that has good soil drainage. Steer clear of planting next to other Brassica plants, including broccoli, as they might cause pests and diseases of their own. You can also grow cabbage in containers; however, the yield may be lower.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

Sow seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch. Plants should be spaced 18 inches to 2 feet apart. A support system won’t be required. Larger heads will typically result from more room.

Cabbage Plant Care

Sun and Temperature

Grow cabbage in the cooler months of the year, when days are shorter but temperatures are still somewhat comfortable. Although they enjoy the full light, too much heat might make them bitter. Attempt to get 6–8 hours of sunlight each day. Cabbage may be planted in USDA zones 1 through 9, and it can grow almost anywhere.

Although 20 degrees is the lowest temperature your cabbage will endure, the ideal range is 55–65 degrees. Use a frost blanket or cold frame to provide protection when the temperature drops below that point. Likewise, offer some protection with shade fabric if warmer weather is forecast.

Water and Humidity

It will require continually moist soil to grow cabbage well. About an inch of water per week is needed to grow cabbage, but if you have consistent rainfall, you can choose to use less water.

With a soaker hose, try to water your cabbage from the base up, being careful not to dampen the leaves. If you must use a hose, watering in the morning is a smart move since it allows any stray drops to dry before the sun gets too strong.

Your cabbage heads may split if you use too much water, but if you use too little, the leaves will get harsh and thick. Growing cabbage requires some practice to get the timing just right!


Grow cabbage in well-drained, organic-rich soil; it is a heavy feeder. It should be able to retain moisture well without collecting or becoming muddy. If you till in at least two inches of compost, aged horse manure, or cow manure before planting, loamy or sandy soils make suitable planting substrates.

The ideal pH range for the soil is 6.0–7.0. If you’re unsure about your soil’s pH, use a soil test kit to obtain a reliable range estimate. Another choice is to hire a professional soil tester. As necessary, apply more compost to the topsoil surrounding your plants. To maintain moisture in the soil, you can also mulch the top.

Fertilizing Cabbage

Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, as previously indicated. They require a significant amount of nitrogen because they are mostly foliar plants, even though they do benefit from moderate levels of potassium and phosphorus for healthy root growth.

When growing cabbage, give them a balanced fertilizer treatment, such as a 10-10-10 formula, two weeks after transplanting. We recommend using a slow-release fertilizer in this case, but you can use a liquid fertilizer as well.

Apply a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen around a month after the first application. If you softly scratch the dirt surrounding the plant, Lucerne meal or blood meal are also great choices. When combined with compost and the initial feeding, this should be sufficient to keep your heads above water.


Pruning cabbage is usually not necessary. To prevent pests and diseases from invading or infecting the plant, you should, nevertheless, cut off or remove any broken or withering leaves that are dragging or falling off using pruning shears.

Propagating Cabbage

Cabbage plants don’t generate seeds for people to gather and spread because most people treat them like annuals. You can grow seeds from scraps if you don’t have any. Increasing the amount of your harvest is simple with this salvage. A well-lit area, water, and a shallow dish are required. This is how you do it:

  • Remove the bottom of the cabbage head and set it, stem side down, in a small dish of water. Place the dish in a well-lit, indirect area.
  • Water should be changed every few days.
  • In about a week, you should notice new leaves sprouting, and on the underside, roots may even begin to form.
  • Since the leaves won’t get very big, harvest them as needed. This growing process won’t provide you with a fresh head.

Harvesting Cabbage

The variety will determine how long it takes for cabbage to be ready for harvesting. However, from the time of planting, it usually takes around 70 days. Harvesting can begin as soon as the heads are completely developed and firm to the touch. Heads can split if left in one piece for too long.

You can either cut the base of the plant’s head with a sharp knife or pluck up the entire plant. Choosing the second approach could result in a smaller-headed second crop from your plant.

Once harvested, take the head indoors. Covered with plastic wrap, the head will be kept for approximately two weeks in the refrigerator. Additionally, it can be kept for roughly three months in a root cellar between 45 and freezing. Regardless of the cooking method, cabbage must be thoroughly cleaned before consumption.


If you are storing your cabbage in a root cellar or refrigerator, trim off any loose leaves and cut the stem short. After the head has dried and not been cleaned, place it in a punctured plastic bag and cover it with paper towels.

It should be in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Use it within a few weeks, making sure not to let it wilt by checking on it now and again.

Alternatively, you might dry-seed cabbage and save it for later use in soups or stews. The fermentation of cabbage to create sauerkraut is another popular method of food storage.

Growing Problems

If you cultivate cabbage and notice that your plants aren’t growing properly, there could be a few different causes. Pest damage to the main stem may be one problem. Another is inconsistent watering. A rapid inflow of water following an extended period of dry weather is typically the reason why your cabbage heads start to split.

The majority of brassicas are vulnerable to nutritional shortages, which can harm the plant. In this instance, cabbage is not an exception, since a boron deficit can lead to the disintegration and deterioration of the pithy core of cabbage stems. To avoid this issue, make sure your fertilizer contains micronutrients in addition to the primary NPK requirements for your plant.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Unfortunately, cabbage can have a lot of issues. The two biggest pest threats are cabbage loopers and cabbage worms. They’ll chew holes all over the leaves. Because of their colouring, they can readily be hand-picked if you can see them, but they also blend in with the cabbage. Your cabbage may also be attacked by cutworms and slugs.

Cabbage is susceptible to several fungal diseases, including clubroot, downy mildew, and black rot. There isn’t much you can do after your cabbage plants are infected other than pull the diseased ones.

However, since fungal spores can linger in the soil, you can help avoid issues by selecting disease-resistant cultivars and avoiding planting cabbage in the same location every year.


How can one prevent the bolting of cabbage?

When the weather is too warm for cabbage, this happens. If you want to encourage the plant to keep growing, you can cut off the budding buds, but once bolting has started, it might not stop. During your growing season, it is vital to make sure you have the proper temperature range.

Why do split heads of cabbage occur?

Cabbage heads split due to inconsistent watering. Despite the mostly cosmetic damage, they are still rather edible, so gather them and use them right away.

Does cabbage grow back after being cut?

Yes! Cabbage sprouts are little cabbages that are formed by the plant if a few outer leaves are left on the stem. Removing all but one sprout encourages the remaining sprout to develop into a small head.



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