Broccoli Varieties: Learn About Different Types Of Broccoli

Broccoli Varieties: Learn About Different Types Of Broccoli

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By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

Exploring different varieties of vegetables is an excitingway to extend the growing season. Different cultivars, each with different daysto maturity, can easily prolong the harvest period of certain crops. This isespecially true when it comes to planting cool season crops that are able tothrive when frost is a threat in the garden. Experimenting with different typesof broccoli,for example, is just one way to make the most of your growing space throughoutthe year.

Broccoli Plant Types

It is no doubt that seasoned gardeners know the joy of earlyand late season broccoli cultivars. However, many may not realize thatexperimenting with different broccoli plant types can add diversity to thegarden, as well as help to produce a consistent harvest of fresh produce forseveral weeks at both the beginning and end of the growing season.

From Chinese broccoli to Romanesco broccoli, the addition ofdifferent kinds of broccoli can add a new and interesting dynamic to yourharvest basket, and to the kitchen.

Broccolini– While the appearance of broccolinimay be similar to that of sprouting types, this plant is actually a cross withChinese broccoli. When growing broccolini, gardeners should expect small floretswith a subtle and sweet flavor. Broccolini is ready to harvest in 60-90 daysfrom planting, depending upon the variety.

Chinese Broccoli– Also known as Chinese kale, the Chinesebroccoli plant types are known for their large leaves and robust stems.

Romanesco Broccoli– Romanescobroccoli varieties are easily recognized by their unique geometric heads.These immensely beautiful plants are sure to inspire growers to test theircreativity in the kitchen. Romanesco broccoli tastes very similar to othersprouting broccoli types.

Sprouting/Heading Broccoli Cultivars – These common kinds of broccoli are known for theirproduction of tight heads at harvest time. Though the heads can range in sizeand color, these types of broccoli are picked when florets are firm andcompact. Sprouting broccoli cultivars reach maturity in roughly 70-100 days.Popular sprouting broccoli varieties include:

  • Calabrese
  • Italian Green Sprouting
  • Green King
  • Green Magic
  • Gypsy Broccoli
  • Purple Sprouting
  • Tendergreen
  • Waltham 29

This article was last updated on

Diversified Broccoli: 4 Unique Types

A post shared by Steve Masley (@growitorganically) on Mar 24, 2017 at 2:08pm PDT

For many fresh-market growers as well as home gardeners, broccoli is a must-grow crop. Yet in many locations — especially where the weather is less predictable — it's not the easiest. Each bead in a head of broccoli is an actual flower bud that blooms with maturity and has a window of critical temperature sensitivity. Because of the plant's temperature sensitivity as it transitions from the vegetative into the heading phase, most of the broccoli developed for the U.S. market targets the California region, where growing conditions are more consistent than other areas.

At Johnny's, we have been experiencing tremendous interest in more diverse broccoli types from growers all across the U.S. We coordinate our broccoli trials to collect data across multiple regions, climates, and seasons, to identify the most reliable, easy to grow, and adaptable varieties of both standard and nonstandard types. This allows a broccoli grower to plant varieties with a range of maturity dates and tolerances, across sequential seasonal slots, as a risk-mitigation technique. Should unfavorable conditions set in to compromise one variety, there will be alternatives to bring to the table.

Here in the Northeast, growers are increasing the amount of mini broccolis they are producing, much of which seems to be the broccoli x gailan-type crosses. There are also increases in the production of broccoli raab and leaf broccolis in the Northeast. These various summer-sprouting types are being produced as annuals. We've also been conducting trials in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the greater Mid-Atlantic region, to advance our understanding of a group we call the winter-sprouting broccolis. Also known as purple sprouting broccoli, this ancestral form of the modern standard broccolis is a true biennial that requires a period of vernalization, meaning cold exposure, to complete its life cycle.

If branching out in broccoli sounds like something you'd like to try, here are 4 uncommon broccoli types for your consideration. We've also included recommendations for a few favorites and why we think they're worth a try.

5 Amazing Types of Broccoli You Can Grow In Your Garden Today

Broccoli is a plant that produces vegetables and is part of the Brassica family, which also includes cabbage and cauliflower. They are a cool climate crop and are easy to grow. Discover the different types of broccoli you could grow in your garden.

1. Romanesco Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis

Mature Size: Up to 2 feet across

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, organically rich

Cultivars and Varieties: Orbit, Veronica, Puntoverde

This is an heirloom type of broccoli that was first documented in Italy in the 1500s, and it has been growing there ever since. It is also commonly known as the Romanesco cauliflower or Broccolo Romanesco. The vegetable part of this plant is actually an edible flower bud, and it has a striking appearance, which is a shade of yellow-green that lays somewhere between lime and chartreuse. The Romanesco broccoli has a highly unusual look, with a distinctively textured surface made up of uneven neon spiraling spikes. It provides an interesting talking point, both in the garden and also on a dinner plate.

Romanesco broccoli is not just visually fascinating it’s also tasty and has a good mix of nutrients. Romanesco broccoli, though it resembles cauliflower, does not taste anything like it. The flavor of this vegetable is mild and nutty, and you can use it in place of regular broccoli in almost any dish. It works well when steamed or grilled, or can also be eaten raw in a salad or with dip. It is rich in both vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as fiber.

This plant has a similar growth pattern to cauliflower, growing out sideways and surrounded by thick, coarse foliage. These plants grow to around two feet in width, so they need plenty of space in the vegetable garden, and should be planted in rows spaced at three feet apart. They also need plenty of nutrients to thrive, so giving them adequate space will help to ensure they aren’t competing against other plants for nutrients in the soil. If you are planting these from seed, you can sow them inside around eight weeks before the last frost in order to get a head start, and then plant them outside.

Romanesco broccoli likes a well-draining soil with plenty of organic material, so consider mixing some organic compost in with your soil before planting. Once planted, keep the soil watered regularly, aiming to ensure it is consistently moist but not wet. You should regularly weed the area around the seedlings to keep competitive weeds from taking over. These plants are quite hardy, and in regions with mild winters, they can keep growing right through fall. However, these plants do not enjoy high temperatures, and in very hot climates can bolt. Romanesco broccoli can take some patience to grow, as most varieties take over 70 days to reach maturity and become suitable for harvesting.

2. Chinese Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra

Mature Size: Up to 1.5 foot tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, organically rich

Flower Color: Yellow and white

Cultivars and Varieties: Crispy Blue, Noble Jade, Big Boy, Blue Wonder

Chinese broccoli, as you might expect, originates from China, and is also commonly known as Chinese kale. Its Cantonese name is gai lan. This vegetable looks like a cross between broccoli and kale. It is a large leafy vegetable with chunky stalks and broccoli-like florets that are smaller than typical broccoli. The taste of Chinese broccoli is similar to broccoli, but with a stronger flavor, and it is slightly more bitter. It is a common feature of Cantonese cooking and is frequently used in stir-fries or steamed and added as an accompaniment to dishes. You could substitute out regular broccoli for Chinese broccoli in almost any recipe, and in fact, if you are cooking a Chinese recipe that calls for broccoli, then it was probably originally intended to have Chinese broccoli in it.

As well as being delicious, Chinese broccoli is also very good for you and full of healthy nutrients. It is high in calcium and folic acid, and also contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

Most types of Chinese broccoli produce white flowers, and it is shortly after these flowers appear that you should harvest the plant. If you wait much longer after the arrival of blooms, then the vegetable can become woody and not as pleasant tasting. There are also some types of Chinese broccoli that have yellow flowers, though these are less common. The two types have slightly different growing habits, though they enjoy the same care. Yellow-flowering varieties are smaller, growing to a maximum of around one foot tall, whereas white-flowering varieties are slightly wider at one and a half feet in height.

This vegetable prefers cool climates, though some varieties are heat-tolerant. In the lower USDA hardiness zones, grow this plant in the spring and summer, ready to harvest it in the fall. In milder climates, you could grow this vegetable all year round. In climates where summer temperatures are too hot for Chinese broccoli to grow, and the heat causes them to bolt, this vegetable is commonly planted at the end of summer when temperatures are starting to ease off, and the plant can be harvested late into winter.

These plants enjoy full sun and well-draining soil with a good percentage of organic content. Their soil should be kept moist, and it is a good idea to mulch over the soil to help keep the plant roots cool and prevent moisture from evaporating too quickly. Compared to other types of broccoli, Chinese broccoli falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to the length of time it takes for the vegetable to be ready to harvest. Some varieties of Chinese broccoli are ready to remove from the plant in as little as 35 days, while others can take up to 60 days.

3. Broccolini

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. italica × alboglabra

Mature Size: Up to 2.5 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, neutral to acidic

Cultivars and Varieties: Atlantis, Aspabroc

This vegetable is a hybrid that results from crossing common broccoli with Chinese broccoli. It was first developed in 1993 and is a natural hybrid rather than a genetically modified hybrid. It is sometimes referred to as baby broccoli or tenderstem broccoli and has been rapidly growing in popularity over the last few years. Broccolini is seen by most people as a more refined alternative to broccoli, and in many modern restaurants or fine dining establishments, you will see that regular broccoli has been replaced with broccolini on their menus. Visually, it looks like a smaller and elongated version of broccoli. It has petite, dainty florets at the top of long and slender stems.

Taste-wise, it is very similar to broccoli, with a slightly sweeter flavor. The stems are less woody than ordinary broccoli and are commonly used in stir-fries or steamed or grilled as a side dish. It is a low-calorie vegetable, which is high in vitamin C. It also has good levels of calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin E. In terms of care, broccolini has similar requirements to other types of broccoli, as they are both cool weather vegetables.

The main difference is regarding temperatures, as broccolini is more tolerant of heat and so less likely to bolt in high temperatures. However, it is less tolerant of the cold, and therefore less hardy than typical broccoli. Broccolini should be sown from seed indoors to get a head start on the growing season Depending on when you would like to harvest your broccolini, and the climate you live in, you can sow these seeds indoors in early spring or early fall. At around six weeks of age, the seedlings can be planted outside. They should be at an eventual distance of two feet from each other, as these plants can grow to be quite large.

Broccolini thrives in neutral or slightly acidic soil, ideally with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. This plant needs plenty of moisture to thrive, so aim for a soil that is kept consistently moist. Ensure the soil is well-draining to avoid root rot. Broccolini can take anywhere from 25 to 60 days to mature, depending on the variety and the growing conditions. When harvesting the broccolini, you should remove the stalks, and the plant will produce a further harvest.

4. Sprouting Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. italica

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Yellow

Cultivars and Varieties: Burgundy, Red Fire, White Sprouting Broccoli

Sprouting broccoli produces slender stalks with individual sprouting heads. Different varieties of sprouting broccoli produce sprouts that are flushed with different colors the most popular varieties are those that have purple or white sprouting heads. This type of broccoli can be eaten raw, though it is most commonly cooked. Unfortunately, the unusual colors of the vegetable will ordinarily turn green once cooked, so if you want to make a statement with the colorful heads of sprouting broccoli, then you will need to enjoy them in a salad or other cold dish. Sprouting broccoli tastes much the same as typical broccoli, with a barely noticeable, more bitter flavor.

Sprouting broccoli can be quite an effort to grow, as it is most commonly overwintered for an early spring harvest, which can be a big commitment in terms of time. Most gardeners with experience in growing sprouting broccoli recommend that you sow it inside in early spring, then transplant the seedlings outside during early summer. These plants will continue to grow throughout the winter and need a minimum of six weeks of cold temperatures that are lower than 50° F in order to produce their florets.

Sprouting broccoli can take anywhere from 70 days to 220 days to be ready to harvest, with white sprouting broccoli presenting the longest time commitment. These plants need plenty of water to thrive, so plant them in well-draining soil, and during the summer, you may need to water them as often as twice a day. Sprouting broccoli will usually be ready to harvest in February, and if you cut the stalks off, it can continue to produce more sprouting broccoli right through to May. You will need to ensure you harvest this type of broccoli at the right time if it starts to produce yellow flowers, then you have allowed it to grow for too long.

5. Typical Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. italica

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Cultivars and Varieties: Calabrese, Blue Wind, Destiny

This is the type of broccoli that most people visualize when they think of broccoli. It is the chunky stemmed vegetable with wide clumps of tiny florets, which looks like a miniature version of a tree. The most popular variety of typical broccoli is ‘Calabrese,’ and this variety is so widely distributed that some people refer to typical broccoli as Calabrese broccoli. Calabrese broccoli is likely to be the type of typical broccoli you would commonly find in your grocery store. These types of broccoli can range in size, though they all have a very similar taste and almost identical care requirements.

The biggest difference between varieties is usually the length of time they take to mature to harvesting level, with some varieties being ready for harvest in 60 days, and others taking up to 90 days. Grow this broccoli in full sun in well-draining soil. It will continue to produce side shoots of broccoli after you have harvested the main stalks, so you can enjoy a long harvesting period.

Broccoli Raab Seeds - Super Rapini

  • This Italian heirloom broccoli is grown for its tender shoots with small heads.
  • Please start these seeds directly in your garden don't start them indoors.
  • Make successive sowings for a long harvest.
  • This is a cool season vegetable for the best taste.

Delicious and early harvesting Italian heirloom greens with piquant flavor. A Mediterranean specialty for great gourmet cooking. Renee's Italian supplier's best selection.

Plant In:Feb - May / Aug. - Sept.| Sun/Shade: Full Sun| Plant Depth: 1/2" / Space Seeds: 2" | Days to Germinate: 7-10 Days | Days to Harvest: Approx. 60

Different Types of Broccoli That Please the Eye and Tongue

Source : Creek Farms with Jag Singh

In addition to the general ones, you can group broccoli in several types including the Chinese varieties, Specialty species, and mid-season variants.

Aside from the usual dark green broccoli, you will find others that are skinner and come in different colors like white as well as purple.

1. Amadeus Broccoli

Source : /Sakata Vegetables Europe

Let’s start with something pretty popular as the Amadeus broccoli that features tight heads and somewhat smaller beads.

However, you do not need to wait for more than two months to harvest the Amadeus. This variety will grow up to 5 inches in diameter and has a blue-green color when mature.

2. Arcadia Broccoli

Source : /

Arcadia broccoli can withstand the cold and is highly tolerant to downy mildew as well as head rot issues.
These types of broccoli have uniform heads that come in a purplish-green color and small size. You can expect to enjoy the Arcadia after two months of planting.

3. Blue Wind Broccoli

You will love to grow Blue Wind broccoli at home considering that this variety is an early boomer.
There is no need to wait more than two months for the Blue Wind to mature. Besides, it has big, tight heads in blue-green color for your added interest.

4. Calabrese Broccoli

Featuring a huge central head with dark green, tense small buds, Calabrese broccoli serves an impression of a tiny tree.

Otherwise, it can create a very thick stem and is ready to harvest approximately 65 days after planting. Once you harvest the central head, anticipate the plant to produce lots of side shoots.

5. Gypsy Broccoli

Similar to other types of broccoli, the Gypsy also matures in around two months. It features a highly wonderful root system and produces perfectly fine.

Gypsy broccoli comes with medium to small-size green heads. Besides, this variety is highly tolerant to heat and can generate numerous side shoots.

6. De Cicco Heirloom Broccoli

These broccoli varieties have smaller heads and are very versatile as you can enjoy them in a sort of way.

Despite its tinier head, the De Cicco Heirloom broccoli matures more quickly than others. You don’t need to wait for over 50 days to enjoy this delicious vegetable.

7. Eastern Magic

Eastern Magic is a variety of broccoli that is very flavorful. Then, it comes with big blue-green heads and matures between 60 and 65 days.

Like some other types of broccoli, the Eastern Magic is also heat-tolerant. Then, it typically grows well during fall and spring.

8. Express Broccoli

This one of the mid-season varieties matures a little bit too late since it requires roughly 75 days for blooming.

Moreover, express broccoli will generate many side shoots and can reach up to 6 to 7 inches across. Visually speaking, this variety comes with tight, blue-green heads.

9. Diplomat Broccoli

Diplomat broccoli can tolerate various types of mildew and has uniform heads that measure 4 to 6 inches in diameter.

These types of broccoli are dark green in color and perform well in colder environments. In addition, the Diplomat takes a little over 60 days to mature.

10. Belstar Broccoli

Thanks to its tasty and crunchy flavor, Belstar broccoli is one of the best choices when you want to grow a mid-season variety.

Besides, the Belstar comes in a lovely blue-green shade and has tight heads. Wait for about 60 days to see this variety flourishing throughout spring as well as fall.

11. White Sprouting Broccoli

Having a similar appearance to cauliflower, this white broccoli is an open-pollinated variety that generates fewer flowers.

In addition, white Sprouting broccoli serves a milder taste, comes with loose heads, and has slim stalks that make it resemble cauliflower.

12. Santee Broccoli

It is safe to say that these types of broccoli are among the most unique ones because of their purple bugs.

Then, this purple sprouting broccoli is very tender and tasty. Make sure to grow it in winter to prevent the vegetable to taste bitter.

Santee broccoli is also unique when you cook it as the color will change from purple to green here.

13. Fiesta Broccoli

Maturing after 70 days of planting, the Fiesta broccoli performs well in late summer for winter or fall harvesting time.

Otherwise, different from some types of broccoli, Fiesta produces limited side-shoots and does not tolerate heat as excellent as the others.

14. Romanesco Broccoli

If you love to try a Romanesco broccoli recipe, growing this Italian heirloom in your garden makes a great idea too.

Indeed, Romanesco is a hybrid between a cauliflower and a broccoli plant, making it feature such an exceptional appearance.

Aside from its fascinating appearance, Romanesco also tastes great and matures for less than three months.

15. Waltham 29 Broccoli

This heirloom variety generates multiple chunky, blue-green heads that measure around 4 to 8 inches in diameter.

Waltham 29 broccoli takes around 70 days to mature and will generate several side shoots. Hence, you should grow it for spring or late fall production for the best result.

16. Kailaan Broccoli

Kailaan is a Chinese variety that takes about two months for maturing. These types of broccoli have a deep green color and may reach 6 to 8 inches across.

Moreover, since Kailaan does not always perform well in hot climates, consider planting this broccoli at the beginning of spring or late summer.

17. Happy Rich Broccoli

Maturing in roughly 55 days, the Happy Rich broccoli is a kind of vigorous plant that creates numerous side shoots.

Also, this Chinese variety generates big florets that sometimes appear like the miniature heads of broccoli.

18. Broccolini

Aside from the varieties of broccoli, people tend to search for different types of broccolini as well.

Broccolini itself refers to the side shoots that spring out after you harvest the broccoli heads. Besides, it provides a tasty flavor and flexibility for cooking various recipes.

19. Apollo Broccoli

These types of broccoli require nearly two to three months for maturing, but the production is frequently generous.

Since Apollo broccoli generates many side shoots, don’t forget to harvest the primary heads only. Thus, make sure that you never grow this variety in extreme climates for the best taste.

20. Suiho Broccoli

Suiho cultivars are hybrid types of broccoli that is popular for those who live in hotter regions. Thereupon, these variety can withstand heat pretty well than the non-hybrid cousins.

However, you need to wait for a little more than a month for the Suiho broccoli to reach maturity.

21. Burbank Broccoli

The creamy-white spears of these types of broccoli are light green in color and create tiny florets. Meanwhile, the Burbank takes roughly 190 to 200 days for maturing.

22. Burgundy Broccoli

If you cannot wait for so long to get the Burbank variety to reach maturity, Burgundy broccoli may make a great choice.

Further, Burgundy broccoli can mature within 60 to 70 days and will generate purple florets on its purplish-green slender stems.

Additionally, the broccoli plants will provide you with a sugary, tender taste that makes a great complement for salads and other favorite dishes.

23. Marathon Broccoli

People in the areas near the Pacific Northwest or Northern California should take these types of broccoli into account.

Marathon broccoli is delicious and crunchy. Thus, you just need to plant the variety in fall for harvesting a little over 60 days afterward.

24. Destiny Broccoli

This hybrid variety produces mid-sized green rounded heads that measure around 12 to 18 inches. However, different from many others, the Destiny broccoli does not grow side shoots.

25. Packman Broccoli

Packman is also another type of hybrid broccoli that you can find in the market. Then, it prefers warmer climates and can withstand clay soil very well.

Moreover, the growers love the good-sized of the Packman’s main head that tastes mild. Similar to others, this variety will generate side shots after harvesting time.

26. Majestic Crown Broccoli

If you are interested in hybrid types of broccoli, the Majestic Crown makes a great choice as well. Similar to Packman, it also grows well even in hot environments.

Additionlally, make sure to plant the Majestic Crown broccoli in spring for the best result.

27. Premium Crop

Last but not least, this hybrid variety is pretty popular for its wonderful and flavorful taste. The Premium Crop also comes with a fine texture that can hold the mild tang even in warmer sites.

The premium Crop is currently one of the most favorable hybrid varieties among most growers. Besides, this broccoli typically produces a big compact head that reaches around 6 to 9 inches in diameter.

Above all, diverse types of broccoli are available to make it easier for you to select the right variety based on your preference and condition. Thus, simply pick and happy gardening!

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