Cauliflower Seed Germination, Time, Temperature

Cauliflower seed germination
Cauliflower seed germination.

Introduction to Cauliflower seed germination process: Either you grow in the home garden or Polyhouse or open field, you must be aware of the Cauliflower seed germination process. Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) is one of the important vegetable crops of India. The edible part of Cauliflower is known as curd, which contains a shoot system with short internodes, branches apices, and bracts. The edible portion of this vegetable is about 45 percent of the vegetable as purchased. It is rich in minerals such as potassium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, etc. Cauliflower belongs to the species Brassica oleracea, which includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Like other Brassica crops, Cauliflower requires a generous amount of space in the garden to grow, particularly in its second year of growth. The Cauliflower is not the easiest of the brassica family to grow but a large white Cauliflower with tight white curds is a thing of beauty and also producing one a source of much satisfaction. A plant variety is important, especially for beginners with a very healthy and well-fed soil essential.

In this article we also discussed below topics;

  • Process of growing Cauliflower from seed
  • Time to take Cauliflower seed germination
  • Cauliflower seeds saving
  • How do you germinate Cauliflower seeds
  • Does Cauliflower grow from seeds
  • The best fertilizer for cauliflower
  • How long does it take for Cauliflower seeds to sprout
  • Cauliflower seed germination temperature
  • Process for germinating Cauliflower seeds
  • Cauliflower seeds germination period
  • Tips for Cauliflower seeds germination
  • Best time to plant cauliflower
  • Germinate Cauliflower seeds indoors
  • Paper towel germination method for growing cauliflower

A step by step guide to Cauliflower seed germination process

Cauliflower likes cool growing conditions and high humidity. They require deep rich soil and must be kept well watered throughout the season. Cauliflower grows best in rich, well-drained, moisture-retentive soil with a pH level within the 6.5 to 8.0 range. Plant Cauliflower in full sun and add aged compost to planting beds before planting. It is a cool-weather half-hardy biennial grown as an annual. It is grown for its edible buds which form a solid head atop single stalks. Heads are sometimes called curds. Heads can be cream, white, purple, or green colored.

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Growing Cauliflower from Seeds.
Growing Cauliflower from Seeds.

Time of planting of Cauliflower

The best time to start Cauliflower plants can be challenging. Cauliflower plants prefer consistent, cool weather (60°F is ideal) and will not produce a full head if temperatures are too high. Days to maturity can also vary greatly from 55 to 100 days. Plants are regularly started in flats and subsequently transplanted to the garden. Start seedlings indoors at least 4 to 6 weeks before your expected transplant date.

Cauliflower seed germination process

Cauliflower plant grows best at around the temperature of 60°F (15°C). Too far below that and the Cauliflower plant will die. Too far above it and the head will “button,” meaning then it will break off into lots of small white parts instead of the desired solid white head. Avoiding these extremes means growing Cauliflower from seeds early in the spring, then transplanting them outside. The best time for planting Cauliflower seeds indoors is about 4 to 7 weeks before the last average frost. If you have short springs that get hot quickly, you must aim for closer to seven. Sow your Cauliflower seeds in fertile material at a depth of half an inch (1.25 cm) and water them thoroughly. Cover the soil with plastic wrap until the Cauliflower seeds have sprouted. Cauliflower seed germination usually takes about 8 to 10 days. When the seedlings appear, remove the plastic and maintain the soil evenly moistly. Place grow lights or fluorescent lights directly over the seedlings and set them on a timer for about 14 to 16 hours per day. Keep the lights just a few inches above the Cauliflower plants to keep them from getting long and leggy.

Growing Cauliflower from seeds

Cauliflower takes two growing seasons for a Cauliflower to produce seeds. In the first, the Cauliflower plant makes the head. To make that happen in a cold climate, you have to dig the Cauliflower plants in the fall, store them over winter and replant them in the spring. Mediterranean climate dwellers have it much easier.

Soil needs to be rich in organic matter; mix aged manure and compost into the bed. Cauliflower also needs extra nutrients and apply 5-10-10 fertilizer. Fertile soil holds in moisture to prevent heads from “buttoning” and it is best to start Cauliflower from small nursery plants versus sowing seeds.

If you grow from seed, start 4 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date. Sow in rows about 3 to 6 inches apart and up to ½ of an inch deep. Water consistently during seed germination and growth. Set plants about 18 to 24 inches apart with 30 inches between rows. In early spring, be ready to protect Cauliflower plants from frost by covering them with old milk jugs, if necessary. Extreme cold can halt growth and form buttons. Plant a fall crop 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date but after daytime temperature ranges are regularly below 75°F. Shade plants from heat, if necessary. 

Cauliflower planting time, season, seed germination temperature

Cauliflower plant requires 55 to 100 days of cool, even temperatures to reach harvest. Start Cauliflower seed indoors about 6 to 10 weeks before the last frost in spring. Cauliflower seed germination temperature will be 45°F. Transplants can go into the garden 2 to 6 weeks before the last frost, generally 6 weeks after sowing when plants have 4 to 5 true leaves. Direct seed Cauliflower into the garden where the soil temperature range is between 65°F and 75°F and the weather will remain cool. It does not like extremes of temperature, hot or cold; it does not tolerate dry conditions. Extreme temperature ranges will cause Cauliflower to bolt and go to seed.

Cauliflower seed sowing in modular trays

Use a seed compost which has a finer texture and lower nutrients than standard multipurpose compost. We use a seed module tray with each section being approximately 2 inches deep. Then fill the seed tray with compost and brush off any excess. When filling the tray rub the compost through hands to break up any lumps. Give the tray a sharp bang on the table to settle. With your fingers make small depressions in each cell about a fingernail or about 1.5cm deep. Sow about 1 or 2 seeds per module. If two Cauliflower seeds germinate you will have to remove the weaker seedling.

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Cover the seeds with another layer of compost then scrape across the top of the tray with a stick to remove excess and gently water your seeds. A tip is to use a plastic bottle with small holes punched in the cap. And this is less likely to wash the seed around than the heavy spray from a watering can. Place your trays in greenhouse, polytunnel, cold frame or windowsill to germinate. They must be ready to plant out in about 4 weeks. If you’re sowing in March the seeds will want some warmth. And use a propagator, heat mat or a warm south-facing windowsill.

Cauliflower planting and spacing

Sow Cauliflower seeds about ½ inch deep and 2 to 3 inch apart. Thin plants to about 15 to 24 inches apart; space rows 24 to 30 inches apart. Set leggy or cooked-stemmed transplants deeply, up to their first leaves, so they will not grow top-heavy. For succession crops, plant a couple of heads at a time and midseason varieties at the same time. If you have no head on cauliflower, it’s undoubtedly stress affecting the plant. Stresses that affect Cauliflower development can be overly cold soil, lack of irrigation, root-bound plants, and insect or disease damage. For best growth, side-dress the plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer about 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting. Note that the Cauliflower will start out as a loose head and it takes time for the head to fully form. Many plant varieties take at least 75 to 85 days from transplant.

The watering requirement for Cauliflower

It is very important to keep your seedlings properly watered before you plant them out in the garden. You are actually far better to under rather than over water your Cauliflower plants. This may sound odd but making the plant roots search for water helps to develop a better root system. You do need to be careful, though, not to let the compost plug completely dry out or it will form a crust on top and won’t absorb the moisture the next time you water. It will all depend on the weather of course but on a hot day you will want to water twice a day if it’s dull every 2 days will be fine.

Cauliflower plant care

To help reduce disease, do not plant cauliflower or other Brassicas in the same location more than once every 3 or 4 years.

Cauliflower Pests – Cauliflower plants can be attacked by cutworms, cabbage loopers (preceded by small yellow and white moths), and imported cabbage worms. These pests can be controlled by fine mesh row covers, handpicking, and spraying with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

Cauliflower Diseases – Cauliflower is susceptible to root rots–an initial symptom is the yellowing plant leaves. Plant disease-resistant plant varieties, keep the garden free of debris, and avoid handling plants when they are wet. Remove and destroy infected plants immediately then they cannot spread the disease to healthy plants. Downy mildew can occur in cool, wet conditions can cause Cauliflower head to brown.

Harvesting and storing Cauliflower seeds

Mature Cauliflower seed stalks can reach about 4 feet tall. Seeds nestle in pods growing along with the stock, and ripening from the bottom up over the course of several weeks. Pods are ready to harvest when they turn light brown and brittle, and should not pick them until they are fully ripe. While the pods will sometimes shatter as you pick them, more drastic measures are needed to access the seeds. This includes placing unopened pods in a pillowcase and then smashing them open with a mallet. Seeds can be stored for up to 5 years.

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Freshly Harvested Cauliflower.
Freshly Harvested Cauliflower.

Time from planting to harvest is about 55 to 100 days for Cauliflower grown from transplants 85 to 130 days for Cauliflower grown from seed. Under good growing conditions, the heads develop rapidly to about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. The mature head must be compact, firm, and white. Cut the whole head from the main stem and the leaves can be cooked like collards or cabbage.

Cauliflower seed germination with paper towels

  • Use a permanent marker to write the seed you are germinating on a plastic zipper bag. This is particularly helpful if you are germinating a lot of different types of seeds. Open plastic zipper bag and flex the opening a few times to loosen it. This will make it very easier to slide the paper towels containing the seeds into them. Then dampen a paper towel with clean water. Wring it out carefully than that it is thoroughly moist but not dripping.
  • Spread the damp paper out on a clean, flat surface. Place seeds on one half of the paper towel, leaving some space between them. Don’t overcrowd the paper towel. Fold the empty half of the paper towel over the seeds, and being careful not to squash them. Put the folded paper towel into the appropriately labeled plastic zipper bag, and seal the bag. Repeat with remaining seeds.
  • Locate the zipper bags of seeds in a warm place away from direct sunlight. The top of the refrigerator is generally a safe place for the seeds to rest undisturbed, but any area that is out of direct sunlight and maintains a temperature between 70 and 80°F will do.
  • Check on the seeds every other day and open the zipper bag to allow fresh air to enter, and check to see if your seeds have sprouted. Times will change according to the type of seed you are germinating. Once your seeds have sprouted, plant them in pots or outdoors, discarding seeds that did not germinate. Do not soak the paper towels, because the combination of too much water, no light, and warmth can encourage mold, which can harm seeds.

Frequently asked questions about growing Cauliflower from seed

Why is Cauliflower not forming heads?

If you have no head on Cauliflower, it’s undoubtedly stress affecting the plant. Stresses that affect Cauliflower development can be overly cold soil or air temps in the spring, lack of irrigation or nutrition, root-bound plants, and insect or disease damage.

How much Cauliflower does a plant produce?

Cauliflower is equal to one head per plant, but if you cut the head and leave the root in the ground you can get side shoots that develop mini-heads.

Why is Cauliflower purple inside?

The edible portion of the Cauliflower plant is the round head of compact flower buds known as the “curd.” The purple color in Cauliflower is mainly caused by the presence of anthocyanin, which is a harmless, water-soluble pigment in the curd. Sun exposure exaggerates its effect on the development of Cauliflower’s head.

Will Cauliflower grow back?

Unfortunately, Cauliflower could be harvested only once. Once the mature Cauliflower head is harvested, new, edible heads do not form. If you love cauliflower, you can extend the time of harvest by planting several types that mature at different times.

Why is my Cauliflower growing weird?

Large temperature fluctuations or temperatures that dip too far below or rise too far may cause Cauliflower to divert its resources to the production of heads. This reduces its leaf development.

How do you know Cauliflower has gone bad?

Instead of pale brown, the spots are dark brown to black, the curds have taken on a mushy texture, it’s best to toss the head of Cauliflower and obtain a fresh one. And these are all signs of decay and spoilage.

Why are Cauliflower heads turning yellow?

As Cauliflower matures in the field, the sun alters the color of the head. If it is exposed too long to the sun, the curds turn a dull yellow in color. This doesn’t affect the taste of the vegetable, it likely produces more phytonutrients but it does affect our desire to buy it.

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