Growing Brussels sprouts

Brassica sp. : Brassicaceae / the mustard or cabbage family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
    S S                
        T T            

(Best months for growing Brussels sprouts in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 45°F and 86°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 18 - 24 inches apart
  • Harvest in 14-28 weeks. Pick sprouts when small. .
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Dwarf (bush) beans, beets, celery, cucumber, onions, marigold, nasturtium, rhubarb, aromatic herbs (sage, dill, chamomile)
  • Avoid growing close to: Climbing (pole) beans, tomato, peppers (chili, capsicum), eggplant (aubergine), strawberry, mustard
  • Mature brussels sprouts
  • Young plant (CC BY-SA 3.0 WikiMedia)

Grown for its small (typically 2.5 cm diameter) leafy green buds, which resemble miniature cabbages.


Brussel Sprouts will not grow good "sprouts" in warm areas - they open and are floppy.

In warm areas they are likely to be infested with aphids Pick formed sprouts from the bottom of the stems leaving the plant growing. For winter use in very cold areas, dig up plants that have heads developed and set close together in a cold frame or cellar. Pack soil firmly round the roots. Keep cool but not freezing and they will continue to mature. (Planning an Idaho Vegetable Garden : Educational Communication online Publishing Catalog Gardening edComm/catalog.asp.)

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Brussels sprouts

Remove any discoloured outer leaves.
Cut in half and steam with other vegetables.
Do not overcook as that produces the distinctive smell that puts people off eating Brussels sprouts!
They go well with a chopped tomato and onion mix.
Traditionally served with roasted chestnuts for Xmas dinner in UK.

Your comments and tips

15 Jan 09, Liz (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Hi Jo, the answers will appear in the same area. But sometimes it takes a while before they happen.
28 Apr 10, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Mo, Brussel tops are the leaves from the top of the B Sprout plants. In some places, the whole stem is cut and sold with sprouts and top. A google search shows recipes for using the tops. Spring greens are cabbages which are started just before winter and still small but usable in spring. You might have difficulty growing Brussel sprouts in a sub-tropical area as they prefer cold weather.
02 Feb 17, Tony (New Zealand - temperate climate)
The only way to grow Brussels Sprouts is under fine mesh netting. This keeps off all the bugs and is true for all brassicas. Just drape the mesh over the crops and anchor the sides with stones or pegs. You will be amazed at how good your crops are. Mulch heavily so you don't need to remove the mesh to weed. You can buy this mesh at Mitre 10, it's called "quarantine mesh"
31 May 17, Sarah Johnson (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
Hi what is the best fertiliser for my brussel sprouts in pots some say Tui Vegetable food but I am reading to avoid too much nitrogen as they are 30cm tall now. some say Tui Novatec premimum or blood and bone???? so confusing thanks very much kind regards Sarah
26 Sep 18, Kelvin (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I planted in late May and now (early spring) the stems are 1-2 foot tall and small sprouts are forming but the tops are starting to flower. Should I leave them, pinch out the flowers or just pull out the whole plants?
07 Oct 18, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
If flowering the plant is coming to its end. Not enough fertiliser or the growing season is ending. It is a winter crop and for cool cold climates.
08 Oct 18, Sudhakar Jha (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Same with my plant, what to do?
10 Mar 19, Rob Lines (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I have been growing Brussel sprouts in Christchurch successfully for several years and have found Christmas Day the best time to plant them. They need this long period of pre winter growth to become strong and to form the sprouts.
21 Dec 20, Rob c (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Mid December, manawatu, plant seedlings. But ONLY the variety that produces sprouts, plant xtra plants through to early feb. I’ve grown BS for 15 yrs, generally now very successful. Eating from May to end September 20 plants, so lot sprouts, Variety biggest issue to success. I was in Adelaide, Aus, saw 5 acre paddock big plants, what variety I asked? It was a syngenta seed. Nursery on st George’s rd, Hastings had some, these grew very well as any sprout that could form tight sprouts in Adelaide, in the heat, would do better in manawatu.
21 Dec 20, Rob C (New Zealand - temperate climate)
The Syngenta sprout variety was Abacus.
Showing 1 - 10 of 17 comments

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