Brussels Sprouts Growing Instructions

“When should I pick the leavesw off my brussel sprouts? I want to make them bigger.  How do I grow them? ~J.”


Brussels Sprouts are grown in the same manner as all cabbage family plants.  When sprouts first appear and reach the size of about a large pea, the lower leaf should be cut off. The sprouts should be picked green when about an inch or so in diameter. To pick them, twist them off. Each plant should yield about 1 quart of sprouts. Harvest continues well into the cold fall months. Light snow does not seem to stop their developing, and even improves their flavor. As soon as the lower sprouts begin to mature, pinch out the growing shoot at the top of each plant (not the entire top leaf). This will stop the top from growing and encourage the sprouts to ripen along the stalk.

If you are interested in best vitamin quality, harvest when the temperature is around freezing for maximum vitamin C. Some say never to harvest unless you’ve had at least two frosts, because frost improves flavor. It has also been reported that sprouts can be harvested through the summer and still be tender, if continuously picked when they reach the size of marbles. If you want to harvest all at once instead of continuously, cut or pinch off the stalk top 4-8 weeks before your intended harvest time. After harvest, remove the entire plant from the ground to minimize the chance of disease next season. Some gardeners in severely cold climates may prefer to dig plants still loaded with sprouts and keep them in a cool, light place where they will continue to ripen.



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


3 thoughts on “Brussels Sprouts Growing Instructions

  1. So, I left several plants fully developed I guess…This was my first year…so..I should go pick the sprouts & leaves off..(Its cold and snow here in ohio) Can I just leave the entire stalk in the garden and it will regrow this spring?? One stalk I cut down to about 4 inches…will that stalk grow??

    I have good firm soil…but a couple got huge..3 feet tall…where others were only a foot tall..right next to each other…I’m going to try and grill them this year…maybe pick a young batch in spring..Thanks for the article…

  2. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for commenting. For those of us in the northern states, Brussels Sprouts are a one season crop. While you can leave them outside through a frost so they will sweeten, it is not good to leave them out during the winter.

    Brussels sprouts are often considered a biennial, bearing edible sprouts in the first year and flowers and seeds in the second. However, unlike a true biennial, some have reported that the sprouts will not die out after the second year (after bearing seed), but will repeat the cycle, producing additional crops of sprouts and flowers in alternate years. In either case, since the best crop of sprouts will be borne in the first year, most home and commercial gardeners grow Brussels sprouts as an annual, pulling up the plants after harvest. If allowed to sprout the second year, the spring growth is reported by some to be edible.

    For future years, my only suggestions would be to make sure that you get your plants in early and to choose a variety that takes fewer days. Good options would be Franklin Hybrid (80-100 days), Jade Cross E (80 days) or Falstaff (a purple variety, 100 days).

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