Add organic fertilizer or compost to the soil prior to planting. It is better to start cauliflower from transplants rather than from seeds, but we will show you both ways in case you want to start from seeds.
Start the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the average frost date in spring. Plant the seeds in rows 3 to 6 inches apart and 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch deep. Water regularly.
Transplant 2 to 4 weeks before the average frost date in the spring, no sooner and not much later. Space the transplants 18 to 24 inches apart with 30 inches between rows. Plant fall cauliflower 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost and after the temperature is below 75 degrees F.
When to Water
Provide at least 1 inch of water a week, soaking the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Cauliflower requires constant moisture to produce large, tender heads; soil that dries out between waterings will cause heads to open up and become “ricey.”
All members of the cabbage family like cool to cold weather. They can be among the first plants in your garden each spring. Start them indoors, and plant them before the last frost, freeze or snow.
Pests: The most common pest of cauliflower is cabbage flies, and cabbage worm or cabbage loopers (the larva stage of a moth). Effective treatment in the home garden is to place a screen over the plant so the moth can not lay her eggs. Disease: The heads of the cauliflower is susceptible to rotting in warm, humid weather. That's one of the two big reasons to protect the head (curd) from water
Soil needs be very rich in organic matter; add composted manure to the soil before planting. Fertilize soil to hold in moiture to prevent heads from "buttoning". The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8. It is best to start cauliflower from transplants rather than seeds.
cauliflower plants can reach a height of 24-30 inches.Take that into consideration when planning your garden. Make sure there is enough distance between your tall vegetables and short vegetables. That way both will get enough sun light.
Harvest Cauliflower when the flower head is full, and the florets are still tightly packed. Timing of harvest is very important to taste. Food quality and taste rapidly deteriorates as the flowerets begin to separate and open, and as the head turns from a creamy white to brown.
The ideal day time temperatures for cauliflower plants are in the 60s, so gardeners in many parts of the country may find it easiest to ripen a successful crop in the cool weather of fall. In mild winter areas (Zones 8-10), cauliflower can be grown for winter harvest. Cauliflower does not do well in mid-summer's heat.
Cauliflowers are heavy feeders and will do well with a couple of doses of fertilizer throughout the growing season.
Growing cauliflower is a little more difficult than other members of the cabbage family. This is largely due to the need to cover and "blanch" the head. Cauliflower plants like cool weather. Many growers plant both a spring and fall crop. For a spring crop, start indoors four to six weeks before the last frost in your area. Transplant spring crops into the garden after the last frost date in your area. Fall crops can be directly seeded into the garden.
Unlike broccoli, cauliflower produces only one head per plant, called the "curd." The heads of most varieties need to be blanched for the best white color and flavor
Cauliflower heads must be shaded from the sun to maintain the pure white color. Many cauliflower varieties have long curled leaves that grow close to the head providing adequate shade. You can always tie up the loose leaves to create your own shade. Use rubber bands instead of string to allow for the expansion that comes with growing.
Cauliflower needs at least 6 hours of full sun each day.
Broccoli, Cabbage, Strawberries, and Tomatoes should not be planted next to cauliflowers.
The following vegetables will do well when planted next to cauliflower: Beans, Beets, Celery, Cucumbers, Sage, and Thyme. Planting certain vegetables next to each other can deter insects and encourage growth.
"Next year, DO NOT plant broccoli, caulifower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and radishes in the same location where you planted cauliflower this year. Because they are all members of the Brassicaceae family. Instead use that spot to plant other vegetables from a different family such as:
- Carrot (Umbelliferae): celery, carrots, parsley
- Legume (Leguminosae): peas, beans, lentils
- Allium (Amaryllidaceae) - onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.
- Sunflower (Compositae): lettuce, artichokes.
- Cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae): pumpkins, melons, squash, gourds, cucumbers.
- Nightshade (Solanaceae): tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers
- Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae): spinach, Swiss chard, beets.
Growing Cauliflower Overview
Cauliflowers require more effort to grow than other vegetables but will do well as long as they get enough sun light and warm temperatures around 60 degrees F. They are members of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and radishes. For more planting information, please visit our Farming Tips homepage.