7 Cauliflower Plant Stages: A Guide to Growing Abundant Cauliflowers in Your Garden

Did you know that growing cauliflower at home allows you better chances at unusually larger buds than you can find in store?

cauliflower plant stages

But you will need to be attentive to cauliflower plant stages to provide it the proper protection, otherwise they may not look as delicious as store offers (even as they can be significantly larger.)

In this article, we will explore these growth stages and provide helpful tips for cultivating a bountiful crop of cauliflowers in your garden.


Stage 1 – Planting the Seeds

When planting cauliflower, check if the plant you are working with is the summer or winter variety.

The former tend to prefer mild summers and cool nights, which means you can sow the seeds indoors during winter until early spring and transplant outdoors when the frost is over.

cauliflower plant stages

These varieties also grow much faster and can be harvested within half a year.

Winter cauliflower, on the other hand, are slow growers which may take up to eight months to mature to size.

They are more suitable for late spring or early summer sowing and would enjoy an outdoor climate with mild winters that have no hard frosts.

If you want to grow cauliflower in the fall, you can choose some of the summer varieties and sow them in early June or transplant them by mid-July.

They will mature before the winter temperatures arrive.

Alternatively, you can choose some of the winter varieties and sow them in late summer or early fall. They will overwinter and produce heads in the following spring.

cauliflower plant stages

How To Sow Cauliflower

Don’t bury them too deep in the soil, keep everything just half an inch (1 cm) is good enough because you still want sunlight to work its magic on the seeds.

As a general rule to any type of seed regardless if it is cauliflower, you should try to keep the soil moist enough to cater the young roots.

Try to keep the moisture level medium as too much water can make the seeds rot.

A good tip is to cover the soil with plastic wrap until you see the seeds sprout.

This will help keep the moisture level just right, but will have to remove the wrap after they have successfully germinated.

cauliflower plant stages

Stage 2 – Germination

Cauliflower seeds can take eight to ten days to germinate, but this can vary depending on the type of cauliflower and the growing conditions.

If you want to help your seeds sprout successfully, you need to consider these factors:

  • The temperature is very important for cauliflower seeds to germinate healthily. Strange as it sounds, aim for temperatures around 45°F to 75°F (7°C to 24°C), which is just the seeds’ favorite environment. If it’s too hot or too cold, they may not sprout or the seedlings may be too weak to remain long.
  • Prepare the planting bed with fertile soil or compost to feed your cauliflower sprouts. I advise you fertilize once every two weeks with balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium so that the plant will have enough nutrients to grow.
  • Use neem oil, row covers, or insecticidal soap if you spot pests lurking around.

Stage 3 – Seedling

cauliflower plant stages

When your seedlings are about two inches (5 cm) tall, you know they are ready to leave the nursery and meet the garden (if you have been sowing them in a pot).

As you give them their new home, make sure you plant the cauliflower about 12 inches (30 cm) apart so that they’ll have enough space to grow later.

Be gentle with your cauliflower seedlings, as they are fragile until they settle in.

You can also shade them from the harsh sun for the first few days after transplanting.

To keep slugs and snails away from your seedlings, you can use snail pellets or beer traps.

Stage 4 – Foliage Growth

cauliflower plant stages

As your cauliflower plants grow, they will develop large leaves.

During this stage, regular watering is crucial, especially if there is minimal rainfall.

Weeding the area will help maintain a weed-free environment, and applying mulch around the plants’ base aids in weed suppression and moisture retention.

You can also consider feeding the plants with a liquid fertilizer every one to two weeks.

Stage 5 – Growth of the Head

Once the cauliflower heads start to form, you can protect them from sun and wind damage by gathering and securing the leaves around them using string or elastic.

Stage 6 – Harvesting

cauliflower plant stages

Depending on the variety and weather conditions, cauliflowers are typically ready for harvest 85 to 130 days after planting the seeds.

Harvest the heads when they reach a diameter of approximately 8 inches (20 cm).

Ensure the heads are well formed, compact, and firm before cutting them from the base of the plant using a sharp knife.

Leave a few leaves attached to protect any side shoots, which can be harvested a few weeks after the main head.

Stage 7 – Bolting / Flowering

Cauliflower plants have a final stage of growth called bolting or flowering.

This happens when the weather gets too hot or when the cauliflowers stay in the garden for too long.

Bolting means that the plants produce a big flower stalk, which attracts bees and other insects that pollinate them. After pollination, the flowers make seeds.

cauliflower plant stages

If you want to save the seeds for your next crop, try my method.

I’d like to cut off the flowers when they turn brown and have them dry out for a few weeks in a cool, dark place.

Then I’ll tap the flowers several times to get the seeds out (usually I’ll do this inside a bucket to keep the seeds from running astray).

As for storage, keep the seeds in an envelope until you are ready to plant them again. 

Final Thoughts

So, as your cauliflowers mature in your garden, observe the fascinating cauliflower growth cycle.

There is immense satisfaction in harvesting your own homegrown cauliflowers.