Growing Brussels Sprouts (Vegetable Plants)

Care of Plants On Arrival

Your plants have just spent up to 3 days without light or water and may have yellow leaves or show evidence of wilting. Through years of shipping experience, we have found that more than 98% of these plants will survive and thrive if you follow the simple care instructions below.

Please take your plants out of the shipping box as soon after their arrival as possible, taking care not to damage any stems or leaves as you free the plants from the cardboard packaging.

If the soil is dry, water gently but thoroughly from above or set the pot in a saucer of water for an hour or so -- just long enough for the soil in the pot to become thoroughly moist, but not soggy.

Place your plants in bright but indirect light indoors or, if temperatures permit, outdoors in the shade, sheltered from the wind. Don't put your plants in full sun right away because their leaves are tender after the trip and could be burned (sunscalded) or fall off if exposed to too much sun too soon. Allow your plants to adjust gradually over the next few days to increasing amounts of sunlight.

We've tried to time the shipping of our young plants so that they arrive at or near the frost-free date in your climate zone. If, however, the weather is still raw and a frost seems likely, transplant your plants into larger pots, taking them outside during the day when the weather is mild and bringing them in whenever frost or blustery cold weather threatens. Young plants are more tender than mature plants, and even if the last spring frost is already past, near-freezing temperatures and cold spring winds are capable of killing your new plants. Expose your young plants to outdoor conditions gradually, giving them a chance to harden off before they're planted out. When the weather does settle and both days and nights become reliably mild (night-time temperatures should remain above 50°F), then it's time for planting out.

Planting Out

When the weather is warm and settled, choose a planting location in full sun with rich, fertile soil and good drainage. To reduce soil-borne diseases among vegetables that belong to the same family, plant brussels sprouts where you haven't grown other members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower, for at least 3 years.

Dig a hole that will generously accommodate the plant's root ball, and mix compost or aged manure and a handful of low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer into the planting hole. If the weather is hot and sunny, plant in the cool of morning or wait until late afternoon to minimize stress. Recommended spacing between plants is indicated on the White Flower Farm label.

To remove a plant from its pot, flip the pot over, tap on its bottom, and slip the plant out. Do not pull the plant out by its stem. Loosen the root ball and tease the roots apart if they are matted or tangled. Set vegetable starts into their holes so that the tops of the root balls are level with or just slightly below the surrounding soil.

Push soil back into each planting hole and firm the soil around each plant to eliminate air pockets. Water thoroughly to further settle the soil. Keep the soil around the plants moist but not soggy and provide shade (with row cover, cardboard, or lath) for the first few days. Transplant shock is not uncommon, but within a week or less the plants' roots will regain their ability to provide moisture to the foliage. Remove shading once plants perk up.

Continuing Care

If rain is scarce, water your vegetable plants deeply and regularly (weekly, or more often in hot, dry weather).

Protect the plants with mulch or a season-extending cover after the first hard frost, and you can continue your harvest into cold weather. Fertilize once a month with a balanced fertilizer designed for vegetables.

These tasty little cabbages have the best flavor just after the first few frosts of fall in the North, generally about 90-100 days after transplanting into the garden. The sprouts mature from the bottom of the stalk up and will grow larger if you remove the leaves under them when the sprouts are about 1/2 the mature size you'd like them to be. Repeat this process later as the sprouts toward the top of the stem begin to mature. Toward the end of the season, cutting the tip off the stem will force the plant to stop growing upwards and put energy into the sprouts below instead. Harvest sprouts from the bottom of the stem first (they will measure 1/2" in diameter).

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