Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Types of Broccoli

Broccoli plant growing

Broccoli plant growing

When considering the types of broccoli you can grow, the first thing to know is that you can’t go by the name alone. Broccoli comes in two main types: sprouting and heading. Sprouting broccoli has long, slender stems that can be prepared and eaten like asparagus. Heading, with its large crowns of tightly packed florets, is the most popular type grown in the U.S.

But, depending on your horticultural source, purple cauliflower—despite its name and color—is also considered a type of broccoli. The more recently cultivated broccolini, or baby broccoli—also known as Tenderstem, is not pure broccoli, but a cross between broccoli and kale. Gai-lon, or Chinese broccoli, is a type of Asian green that’s smaller in size, darker green, grows more quickly, and has a stronger flavor than its western cousins. It doesn’t form traditional heads. Instead, the whole plant is eaten.

And broccoli rabe, or rapini, is not broccoli at all, but a different species altogether and a member of the turnip family!

For growing and eating purposes, it pays to know which type of broccoli you’re dealing with.

Sprouting broccoli-types:
Produce hardy crops that can withstand most types of weather, offering an off-season alternative. Long, sweet stems often have purple or white tops. Can take up to seven months to mature.

  • Burgundy broccoli
  • Happy Rich broccoli
  • Purple Sprouting broccoli
  • Burbank broccoli
  • Red Fire broccoli

Heading broccoli-types:
Produce a tightly packed crown of blueish green florets—the type most commonly found in grocery stores and gardens, and on dinner plates. Can be planted in spring or fall and reaches maturity in 60 to 90 days.

  • Calabrese broccoli
  • Belstar broccoli
  • Destiny broccoli
  • Sun King broccoli
  • Romanesco broccoli

Broccoli Cousins:
Broccoli types that are hybrids, naturally cross-bred, or from the same family. Harvesting times vary.

  • Aspabroc broccoli
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Broccolini/Tenderstem hybrid (trademarked; difficult to find seeds)

Which type of broccoli have you grown? Do you have a preference? Please share your opinion.


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