You can find much information about growing broccoli but very little about the growing stages of broccoli. Understanding the different stages of broccoli growth is important because it will help you determine the best time for transplanting, fertilizing, and harvesting.

What You'll Learn

Broccoli Growing Stages Infographic

broccoli growing stages infographic
Broccoli Growth stages infographic

As you see from infographic above broccoli plant goes through 4 key growth stages:

  • Germination stage
  • Seedling stage
  • Vegetative stage
  • Flowering stage

Starting at the germination stage after the seed pre-growth stage or planting process. Seedlings will then begin to sprout before broccoli reaches its vegetative state. Lastly, the broccoli plant will go through its final growth stage: flowering.

Find out what each one means and how it affects your yield.

Pre-Growth: Seed Stage and Planting

Brocolli is a dark-green cool seasoned vegetable that grows in moisture-retentive soil with good drainage. It thrives in places with a lot of sunshine, and you can plant broccoli sometime in early spring or fall.

If you plant in early spring, grow the seedlings using seed trays and a potting mix. Add the mix to the seed trays and sow two seeds in each tray. Make sure the potting mix is always moist since broccoli requires a lot of moisture to grow to its full potential.

After six to eight weeks, you can move and transfer them outside to bask in the sunshine directly.

planting broccoli seeds

Stage 1: Germination 

The germination process begins around seven to ten days after planting. At this stage, the seed coat cracks, and roots start to form. The roots will then take in essential nutrients from the coat and start to germinate.

In the process of absorbing moisture and a reasonable amount of sunlight, it will begin to produce seedlings.

Sprouting and First Leaves Forming

The plant will sprout and start to form its first true leaves slowly. At this stage, young plants are very sensitive. They can die if you don’t provide them with adequate temperature and sunlight exposure. They are also very fragile and breakable at the touch.

As the days pass, the second leaves start to form, and their shape and size become more defined. The plant now enters the seedling stage of growth.

broccoli sprouting

Stage 2: Seedling 

Broccoli remains in the seedling stage for around four weeks. The seedlings will develop the structure to take in necessary nutrients and water. The structure involves growing a root-like system that can absorb moisture and a leaf-like structure for photosynthesis. 

At this point, the plant has not yet established a deep root system. It needs to be able to get enough sunlight and water to survive.


The plant will develop a second set of true leaves and start to photosynthesize. Being able to photosynthesize means that the broccoli will start to grow rapidly both in height and diameter. Before you know it, you’ll be harvesting fully grown broccoli. The plant is now forming a third set of true leaves and is becoming ready for the vegetative stage of growth.

If you are growing broccoli, now is the time for thinning or transplanting into its permanent positions in a garden bed or container. You can do that when the plant has 3 or 4 true leaves and are about 3 to 4 inches tall.

transplanting broccoli seedling

Stage 3: Vegetative 

After transplanting or when the roots establish their position, the seedlings will then grow and expand to form the classic broccoli you can find in stores. The seedling will continue developing new foliage and growing until it becomes a familiar collection of leaves and roots.

The rate of photosynthesis increases with each extra leaf that the broccoli forms during the vegetative stage, thus driving growth. In its vegetative stage, it can now fully absorb nutrients from its surroundings. Plant will no longer rely on the seed’s energy reserves. This period is also known as the growth stage.

broccoli in vegetation stage

Nutrition demand

As the broccoli reaches the flowering stage, the plant will grow rapidly upwards and outwards, attempting to store additional nutrients for the flowering process. All of the broccoli’s resources will form the stalk’s main flower head.

In this stage, we are giving nutrients to the soil and feeding the plants by fertilizing. The yield in the flowering or harvesting stage will depend on how many nutrients the plant receives in this vegetative stage. 

vegetation of broccoli in garden

Stage 4: Flowering 

The flowering or harvesting stage is the last broccoli growing stage. It is the period where the plant starts to produce flowers or florets, and the harvest occurs. The rate of photosynthesis slows down as the plant stores energy and nutrients for the flowering process. 

At this stage, the plant is harvested for its leaves and heads. During the flowering stage, the broccoli plant has thick, long stems with lots of leaves. The flower heads are arranged in large clusters at the ends of the stems. They are usually about 2 to 5 inches in diameter and have many small green flowers that turn into green, edible florets or buds.

broccoli flowering and harvest stage

Harvesting Stage

Florets or buds begin to set in for the last stage of broccoli’s growth. If you are planting the broccoli to eat or serve as part of a meal, then you must harvest the broccoli before the flowers begin to bloom. Before the flowers fully form and open, the broccoli heads should be full and firm. Broccoli tends to flower around 55 to 80 days after the initial planting, sometimes earlier or later, depending on the planting conditions and variety of plants.

Collecting Seeds

As the plant develops a new flower, it will also produce pollen and will have the ability to produce seeds. Pollen is the reproductive cell of plants. After pollination, mostly by bees, the plant will start to produce seedpods that will contain seeds. If not harvested on time plant will start to show yellow flowers with green seedpods. If you want to save the seeds, you can collect them after the seedpods get brown and dry out. But you need to grow with heirloom seeds because most hybrid plants will produce sterile seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does Broccoli Take To Fully Grow?

Broccoli is a vegetable that takes several months to grow. Depending on the plant variety, weather, and soil conditions, it needs from 90 to even 130 days to grow (from seed to seed) fully. That means from planting a seed into the soil to harvesting the seed from matured seedpods.

broccoli flowering closeup

How Long Does It Take For Broccoli To Form a Head?

Broccoli will start to form heads in the 50 to 70 days range. The broccoli head or bud contains many small flowers clustering into florets (small green fruits). You should harvest heads for consumption before the flowers open and before they start to turn yellow. They should be firm to touch and tightly packed on the stem.

Broccoli Growth Stages Timelapse


Brocolli is easy to grow and has a straightforward growing stage process. If you are planning to grow broccoli, make sure that you keep the soil moist and provide plenty of light. In this article, I show you four growing stages of broccoli growth with pictures. This infographic will help you determine when to plant broccoli seeds, when to transplant and when to harvest, and how long it takes for broccoli plants to grow to different sizes.

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