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Brussel Sprout Plant 101: How to Plant & Easy Care Tips

Brussel Sprout Plant 101 How to Plant & Easy Care Tips

Brussels Sprouts! The jewels of the dinner plate and the garden! Nutty, sweet, and tender, these tiny veggies are not only packed full of flavour, they’re packed full of goodness too! With a long growing season and high yields, growing a sprout stalk or two will provide you and your family with plenty of healthy, tasty food through the autumn and winter months. 

So if you’d like to step up your vegetable garden game by growing your own superfood, get ready to sink your teeth into our very easy guide on how to grow Brussels sprouts!

What are Brussels Sprouts?

What are Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea) are small, cruciferous vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae cabbage family, which also contains leafy green vegetables such as Cauliflower, Broccoli and Kohlrabi.

Once native to warm regions of Mediterranean Europe, evidence shows that Brussels sprouts gradually migrated to the cooler climates of Northern Europe sometime after the 5th century, where they became acclimatised to the much cool temperatures that we traditionally grow them in today.

The History Of Brussels Sprouts

The History Of Brussels sprouts

Early ancestors of the Brussels sprout were cultivated in Ancient Rome as a staple food source, although the first written reference to Brussels sprouts as we know them now doesn’t appear until 1587.

In fact, Sprouts became so popular in Belgium during the 16th century that the name ‘Brussels sprouts’, in honour of the capital city, was widely adopted and has stuck to this day. Clearly, the Medieval Europeans knew they were on to a good thing with the humble Sprout, and they’ve only grown in popularity ever since! 

Nowadays, Brussels Sprouts have earned themselves a gourmet reputation, regularly featuring in the fancy menus of Michelin star chefs, who’ve devised all manner of weird and wonderful ways to cook them. Sprouts are even considered a superfood since each little green gem is so jam-packed full of goodness! 

Brussels Sprouts Nutritional Value

Brussels Sprouts Nutritional Value

Eating just half a cup of these brilliant brassicas will deliver:

  • Two grams of Protein – helping to strengthen bones and muscles
  • Two grams of Fiber – helping to maintain healthy digestion
  • 12% of your recommended daily Folic Acid – helping to stimulate your metabolism and produce red blood cells
  • 53% of your recommended daily Vitamin C – helping to maintain healthy skin, bones, and blood 
  • 91% of your recommended daily Vitamin K – helping to produce proteins which enable blood clotting and strengthen bones

Nutritional value aside, Brussels Sprouts are bursting with other health benefits too. They are high in carotenoids which help to protect our eyes, as well as antioxidants with a whole range of benefits for us, including helping to protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

A diet packed full of Brussels sprouts also help to stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, and can even provide protection against some cancers!  

Whether you love them or loathe them, you really can’t argue with the healthy credentials of a good old Brussels sprout! 

What do Brussels Sprouts Look Like in the Garden?

What do Brussels sprouts look like in the garden

Aside from their delicious flavour and remarkable health benefits, Brussels are also one of the most impressive-looking vegetable crops. Resembling miniature trees, sprout plants grow upward from the ground to a height of a meter or less, like little tree trunks.

Spiralling upwards around these mini tree trunks are the vegetative buds of the brussels sprouts themselves. These bite-sized jewel-like buds rarely exceed an inch or two in diameter. Each sprout studded stalk can support anywhere between five and fifteen Brussels at a time, and they are shrouded by dense sprays of broad green leaves which fan out from the very tops of the central stalks. 

Although we’re probably most familiar with green brussels sprouts, botanists have been experimenting with the simple Brussels sprout ever since the 1940s, creating ever more weird, wacky, and resilient hybrids.

These experiments have resulted in purple, blue, and red sprouts!! In fact, there are now 110 different accepted varieties of Brussels sprouts! Of course, we don’t have enough room in our veggie patches to grow them all, so let’s take a look at nine of the tastiest varieties to grow in your garden:

Types of Brussel Sprout Plants

Types of Brussel Sprout Plants

Catskill Sprouts are a fairly new variety, having only been developed in 1941. Despite their compact trunk size, they’ve quickly gained popularity for their large edible buds and exceptionally sturdy stems which can easily withstand windier positions in the garden. Each Churchill stalk will yield around ten generously sized sprouts with a maturity time of around 100 days. 

Churchill sprouts are a fast-growing hybrid variety which are ready to harvest in 80 to 90 days. They’re also incredibly productive, offering generous yields of lush green sprouts in early autumn. Churchill sprouts tolerate a range of climates too, so they’re a good all-rounder!

Dagan Sprouts are surprisingly decorative, with tall, uniform central stalks encircled with plenty of neat, tight sprouts which snap off easily come autumn. They need around 100 days to reach maturity, but will keep well in the ground if you’re a little late to harvest them. Dagan stalks won’t need staking as they’re sturdy enough to withstand windy weather and are fairly resilient to pest and disease problems too! 

Despite their devilish name, Diablo sprouts are prized for their sweet taste and tender buds. They’re one of the taller varieties, with stalks often reaching a meter in height. Diablo is fairly slow to mature though, needing around 100 days, so you’ll need to be patient with these Brussels. 

Falstaff Brussels make rather a dramatic statement, both in the border and on the dinner table! Prized for their kaleidoscopic blue, green, and purple sprouts, and their distinctive nutty flavour, the Falstaff is perfect for foodies. 

Perhaps the most aptly named Brussels sprout of all is the Green Gem. This hybrid Sprout produces small, emerald-like jewels which reveal surprising gold-hued centres when sliced open. Quick to mature in around 85 days, these Gems are known to be a little unsteady and often need staking. 

With perfect bitesize buds measuring little more than half an inch wide, Jade Cross sprouts are as cute as little green buttons! But don’t be fooled by their small stature, these tough Brussels are pest and disease resistant, and their short, sturdy stems are almost windproof! Jade Cross mature in around 85 days, so they’re ideal for impatient gardeners. 

Redarling are perhaps the most popular of all the red brussels sprouts. Producing deep purple buds and stalks, you could be forgiven for mistaking these Brussels for blueberries. Patience is a necessary virtue with Redarlings though, since they take around 145 days to mature, so plant them early and save them for your Christmas dinner! 

Rubine Sprouts are another dazzling deep-purple variety. Famed for their rich, nutty taste and relatively fast maturity time, they should be ready to harvest within 90 days of sowing. Rubines are one of the rarer sprout varieties, but they’re definitely well worth growing in your garden. 

Growing Brussels Sprouts

Growing Brussels Sprouts

What month do you plant Brussels sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a long season crop, usually taking around four months to mature. They’re certainly worth waiting for though, as they’ll produce a fantastic early winter harvest! 

You’ll want your Brussels ready to harvest right around the time of your predicted first fall frost date, so counting backwards about 100 days from this date should give you a good idea of when to plant brussels sprouts.

This will usually be sometime in late spring or early summer, depending on whether you live in a cool or warm climate. Remember to check the guidelines on the seed packet though, as different varieties mature at slightly different rates. 

Where to plant Brussels sprouts?

Choose a sheltered position for your sprouts, since they can be prone to toppling over in high winds. Brussels sprouts are a cool weather vegetable and need a relatively consistent soil temperature to thrive.

Growing yours in raised beds or containers is a great way to maintain cool soil temperatures from early spring sowing, throughout mid summer and all through autumn when they’ll be ready to harvest.

Planting Brussel Sprouts

Planting Brussel Sprouts

Although you can sow your seeds directly into outside beds, they tend to take longer to mature and are more prone to pests or heat-related bolting. Starting them indoors or in a greenhouse will protect young sprouts from potential pest problems, and shield them from the sun’s hottest midsummer rays.

Sow seeds thinly in seed trays filled with loose, fertile compost. Place the tray in a sunny spot and keep the seeds lightly moist with a mister. In early summer, once the seedlings have reached around 10 or 15 centimetres tall, they can be thinned out and transplanted to beds or pots outside. Plant seedlings in enriched, fertile soil with about 70 centimetres of space in all directions. 

If you’re sowing your sprout seeds directly into the garden, work plenty of organic matter through the soil and bury each seed around half an inch deep and three inches apart. Keep the soil lightly moist until the seeds germinate.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Soil, Planting, and Care


Fertile soil is the key to growing abundant Brussels! Working plenty of nutrient-rich organic matter through the soil before planting will not only produce bigger, tastier Brussels, it will also amend the soil structure and improve drainage, which is ideal for sprouts who need light, well-draining soil.


For a bumper harvest your Brussels will need six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. They’ll tolerate light shade, especially in warmer southern climates, but too much shade will slow the development of your sprouts causing a disappointing yield. 

A neutral to slightly alkaline pH level is best, although they aren’t overly fussy. 


Keep your sprouts well watered, especially through the mid summer months. Aim to give them around an inch of water each week, keeping the soil evenly and very lightly moist. They don’t cope at all well with drought, and even short dry spells can reduce their productivity. 

Young plants will need slightly more water as they are maturing. 


Your brussels sprouts will be happiest in cool weather temperatures between 15 and 18°C. Like most members of the brassica family, Sprouts hate hot weather and may bolt in prolonged temperatures above 21°C.

Strategically placed companion plants can shield your sprouts from the sun’s hottest rays in the middle of the day, while still allowing plenty of morning and late afternoon sunlight to reach the plants. Regularly mulching around the base of your sprouts through the summer will also help to keep the soil cool. 

Brussels sprouts are relatively cold hardy, and the arrival of cooler weather at the end of summer is what helps your sprouts mature ready for picking and eating. In fact, you can leave your sprouts in the ground to endure a few light frosts as this will make them even sweeter! 


Your Brussels sprouts will need regular feeds with a high nitrogen fertiliser all throughout the growing season. Start feeding seedlings once they reach six inches tall, and aim to feed them every three to four weeks from then on. The nitrogen is crucial to help brussels sprouts produce their delicious leafy green buds. 

Should you Remove Lower Leaves on Brussel Sprout Plants?

Should you remove lower leaves on brussel sprout plants

Technically, there’s no real need to prune brussels sprouts, but you may want to strip the lower leaves from the central stalk if they start to yellow. Some gardeners swear by removing all of the lower leaves as they grow, as it can help the brussels sprouts to mature a little quicker. These young, tender leaves are also a tasty treat if cooked like collard greens.

Other growers swear by ‘topping’ their plants three or four weeks before the sprouts are ready to harvest. It’s thought that removing the foliage helps the plant to redirect energy back into the buds, producing bigger, better brussels sprouts, but this is completely optional. 

Brussels Sprouts Diseases and Pests

Brussels Sprouts Diseases and Pests

To protect against common cabbage family fungal diseases, make sure your Brussels sprouts aren’t overcrowded. They’ll need plenty of fresh air circulating around their leaves and stems to prevent fungal problems from taking hold.

Always water your veggies from the base, rather than above, as wet foliage can also cause fungal diseases. If you do notice any signs of disease in your Brussels sprouts, it’s best to dig up and carefully dispose of the affected plant to stop it from spreading around your whole vegetable patch. 

Companion planting is the most sustainable way to keep Brussels sprout pests at bay. Planting aromatic herbs like mint or rosemary, or pungent bulbs like garlic nearby will help to repel cabbage aphids, beetles, and those most notorious sprout savages, the Cabbage White Butterflies!

You could also try placing mesh row covers over your Brussels sprouts to stop larger pests in their tracks. 

Propagating Brussels Sprouts

Propagating Brussels sprouts

Perhaps you only have a few stalks of Brussels sprouts, but they’re just so tasty that you NEED more. Here’s how to supersize your sprout selection with propagation:

  1. During early summer, remove a young sprout bud from its stalk. Give it a good wash and remove any dead leaves. 
  2. Carefully cut the bottom off the sprout and place it bottom down in a shallow saucer of water. Don’t submerge the entire sprout. 
  3. Place the saucer on a warm windowsill with plenty of bright, indirect light. 
  4. Refresh the water daily and after a couple of weeks you should see tiny roots growing from the bottom of the sprout, and new leaves emerging from the top.
  5. Once the roots seem relatively well established, you can transplant your baby sprout plant to the garden and treat it like a mature plant. Hey presto! You’ve successfully grown a brand new Brussels sprout plant!

How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts

When they’re finally ready to harvest, your Brussels sprouts will look like perfect miniature cabbages. This will be sometime in late Autumn, around the time of your last frost date. Remember to let them endure a light frost for sweeter tasting sprouts.

Carefully pluck your ripe Brussels sprouts from the central stalk working from the bottom upwards, since they mature from bottom to top. They should snap off without much effort.

Don’t be shy with harvesting your sprouts! The more you pick them, the more they’ll grow. Most sprout plants will produce at least two rounds of buds if harvested regularly, meaning there’ll be plenty of tasty sprouts for you and your family to enjoy.  

How to Store Brussels Sprouts?

How to store Brussels sprouts

Once harvested, you can safely store your Brussels sprouts in the fridge for around five days. And if you’re lucky enough to have a real bumper crop of Brussels, they can be stored in the freezer for up to a year! Just don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them! 



Do Brussels sprouts need support?

Although the central stalks are fairly sturdy, they can grow up to three feet tall, so heavily laden sprout stalks may need staking with a garden cane to stop them from toppling over. It’s best to stake Brussels sprouts plants when young if they look a little unsteady. 

Do Brussels sprouts come back every year?

Technically, Brussels sprouts are a biennial plant, meaning they have a two year life cycle. They produce edible buds in the first year, and in the second year they produce flowers and set seed.

Although you may get a few edible Brussels sprouts on a plant in their second year, most growers treat them as an annual plant, pulling them up after their first harvest and sowing new seeds the following spring.  

Can I Eat Brussels Sprout leaves?

Yes! All parts of the Brussels sprout plant are edible, including the leaves and even the stalks, making them a truly versatile veggie to grow! Some chefs even prefer to prepare, cook, and serve the sprouts without removing them from the stalk!

Final Thoughts

final thoughts

Delicious, nutritious, and delightful to grow, Brussels Sprout plants really are the miniatures heroes of any vegetable patch. From Medieval farmers to Michelin Star chefs, these superfoods have certainly cemented their reputation as the jewels of the garden, and of the dinner table. We’re sure it won’t be long before you’ve got plenty of these little gems sprouting up in your own gardens too! 

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Emily Grice

Emily Grice

Em Grice is a content writer specialising in horticulture and botany who combines her respect for the natural world with her love for the written word. A regular contributor to a range of international publications and organisations, she is most at peace when pottering in her own little garden in the north of England

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