Brussels Sprouts are such a versatile vegetable, it’s no wonder so many gardeners choose to grow them! You can chop them up and turn them into a fresh salad, you can roast them with bacon, you can cook them into pasta—the options are limitless. Brussels sprouts look like miniature cabbages, and for good reason: they’re an offshoot, as it were, of the cabbage plant.
One of the many predicaments Brussels sprout growers run into is how and when to water their plants, and the first thing you need to know is that these plants are not drought-tolerant, but they are prone to moisture-related disease.
When you properly water your Brussels sprouts, you’ll have healthy plants and a good harvest. Improper watering can lead to the following problems that you want to avoid:
- Stunted growth and root loss
- Susceptibility to pests and disease
- Reduced harvests and bitter Brussels sprouts
One such disease is Brassica Downy Mildew. It appears as mold under the leaves and light green spots on the leaves. To avoid this, you can choose disease-resistant varieties, make sure plants get good air circulation and lots of sun but you should also avoid using sprinklers, which trap moisture.
Beyond disease, there’s the matter of watering them appropriately to thrive! Poor watering can result in less Brussels sprouts and a bitter-tasting crop—that’s something that can’t be reversed.
Getting Watering Right with Brussels Sprouts
There are plenty of set-it-and-forget-it vegetables you can grow, but Brussels sprouts are unfortunately not one of them. It’s a good thing they taste so good!
With Brussels sprouts, you want to keep your sprouts’ soil moist but not saturated. Sounds like a trap, right? Not if you follow this much more specific advice:
Water slowly and deeply, for a weekly total of 1-1/2 inches.
Morning is the best time of day to water your Brussels sprout plants. Avoid watering during the hottest time of the day.
If you don’t have the time or patience to do the weekly watering, you might want to consider a drip hose or some other drip-irrigation method that will deliver water slowly and deeply into the soil for your Brussels sprout plants. You can even attach a timer to make watering hassle-free and also make it less likely that you’ll forget to water the plants.
If you get enough rain during the week, you won’t need to water your Brussels sprouts. It’s worth investing in a rain gauge to keep track of how much rain you get in a given week. A quick check of the gauge will let you know whether and when to turn on the hose. Keep in mind that if you’re growing Brussels sprouts in containers or in raised beds, you’ll need to be especially mindful of watering the plants regularly. Plants in raised beds and containers lose moisture more quickly than plants in a regular garden bed.
When watering Brussels sprout plants, water straight to the soil and the roots.
Don’t spray the plants from above; that extra moisture can set your plants up for fungal infestation. Plus, you want the water to get to the roots, so aim there. Use a layer of mulch around (but not touching) the stem to help keep water where the plants need it and also slow down evaporation. You can use straw, grass clippings, or shredded leaves (not all mulch needs to be wood chips).
Rainwater is best for your garden plants.
If you can collect rainwater, your Brussels sprouts will benefit from that! Some communities sponsor rain barrels at a discounted price—and don’t forget to pick up a downspout diverter to send the rainwater right into the barrel!
Fresh-from-the-well water might be a bit too chilly. Let well water sit for an hour until it warms up a bit before quenching the soil and giving your Brussels sprout plants a long drink.
If you’re using tap water, allow the water to settle for one to two hours before dispensing to allow the tap water’s added chlorine to evaporate before soaking your soil. If you can arrange it, get your watering water ready the day before and let it sit up to 24 hours for a full outgassing of chlorine.
Start Growing Bigger, Better, and Not-Bitter Brussels Sprouts Today
Brussels sprouts have gone from most hated to almost most loved! In our Brussels Sprouts Gardening Guide, you’ll have everything you need to know about growing and enjoying this delicious food. From the history and background of the mighty Brussels sprout to specific advice about soil requirements and fertilizer … from watering techniques to details about repelling pests and diseases … from easy-to-make and delicious recipes that will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor, to the nutritional benefits of Brussels sprouts—get it all in our Brussels Sprouts Gardening Guide.
How often do you water your Brussels sprout plants? And what time of day do you water? Please tell us how you ensure that your Brussels sprout plants get the right amount of water.