Broccoli is an iconic vegetable crop that prefers cooler weather than hot temperatures. You’ll plant one or more of the many different broccoli varieties in your garden through the spring and fall months. Depending on where you live, you might even grow broccoli in the winter.
Broccoli comes in many different types. Some produce a harvest within two months – fantastic fast-growing crops for your spring garden. Others take more time to produce, harvesting in the midsummer months.
No matter what type of broccoli you want to grow, we have some great picks for you to consider adding to your veggie garden.
Here’s everything you need to know below about growing each type of broccoli.
The 20 Best Broccoli Varieties For Your Garden
Broccoli is a beloved crop, but remember that the days to maturity are approximate. It does vary based on your region and real-time temperatures and conditions.
The most difficult part of growing broccoli is choosing what kind you want to grow. There are basically three types of broccoli: early season, mid-season, fast grower. Each goes by multiple names, making the choice all the more confusing. But once you get the differences clear, you will probably want to grow some of each.
Here are the 20 types of broccoli cultivars to plant in your garden this year.
Early Season Broccoli Varieties
Early broccoli harvests in less than 60 days, on average. If you want fast-maturing broccoli or one that does well in early spring or late fall, these are the varieties that you will want to plant.
1. Blue Wind
Blue Wind is a broccoli variety that takes 49-55 days to mature, and it does well in USDA zones 5-8.
That’s one of the earliest types on the market, and a full, tight head will be developed by 60 days.
After you harvest the main head, Blue Wind does produce edible side shoots, giving you an even more extended harvest than you would have otherwise.
As you might expect with this name, Blue Wind produces bluish-green leaves near the top of the plant. They look similar to kale. Be sure that you plant it in full sunlight and space the plants 18-24 inches apart.
This variety is excellent for steaming or braising. It has a sweet, mild taste that is tender, and that flavor shines through when you cook it.
2. Di Cicco
This variety of broccoli is an Italian heirloom that grows well in USDA zones 3-10. It produces small to medium heads that are a blue-green color.
You’ll notice that DiCicco broccoli heads tend to lack uniformity, which means they grow heads at different rates. That might not work for a commercial farmer, but it’s an ideal trait for home gardeners.
DiCicco develops mature heads in as little as 50 days. After the main head is harvested, you can expect plenty of side shoots to appear as well.
Here is an Italian heirloom broccoli variety that grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3-10.
Even though it originates from Italy in Calabria, which is a region in southern Italy, it grows well in most of the continental United States.
If you look at the broccoli in the grocery store, it might be a variety of Calabrese.
Calabrese produces medium to large green heads, and it takes around 65 days to reach full maturity.
The central head has tight florets, which are the tiny flowers. You might notice that they look like little trees. After harvesting the main head, this variety produces more side shoots, so leave the plant in place.
4. Eastern Magic
Image Source- www.burpee.com
For gardeners in colder, northern regions in the United States and Canada, finding the right variety of broccoli can be tricky.
Eastern Magic might be the ideal choice for you. It handles growth in the spring and the fall well, developing into massive blue-green crowns with a delicious flavor.
Despite being cold tolerant, this type also handles heat well so that you can extend your broccoli growth into the summer.
Depending on your location, you might be able to grow several harvests of this type of broccoli because it matures in 60 days.
5. Green Magic
This type of broccoli is the opposite of Eastern Magic; it prefers hot weather. Green Magic likes to grow in USDA zones 3-9. It was cultivated to tolerate the heat typical of the southern states in the United States.
Green Magic develops smooth, domed, medium-sized heads. The heads tend to have a blue-green color with a unique butter flavor. It takes around 60 days to have a mature head to harvest.
This broccoli type matures in less than 60 days. It develops heads with tight florets, more compact than some of the other early growing varieties.
The beads in the florets are smaller, and it produces a head that is roughly 5 inches around. You’ll notice it is a blue-green color when fully matured.
Amadeus broccoli is an excellent choice for early spring sowings because it grows so quickly. Once you harvest the central heads, it vigorously produces side shoots to extend your harvest. You also can grow Amadeus in the summer and fall.
Arcadia does take a look longer to mature than other early growing broccoli; it takes 63-68 days to develop. It takes longer because it thrives in cooler temperatures when soil moisture tends to be greater.
This is an excellent variety if you want broccoli that is cold tolerant for fall and winter production. It’s rugged, vigorous broccoli that is a large plant.
It develops large, firm, dark green heads with a unique frosted appearance that makes it stand out when compared to other types. The heads measure 6-8 inches.
When you harvest the main head, leave the plant in place because Arcadia has excellent side-shoot production.
You’ll love Arcadia if you like to eat raw broccoli because the crowns have a consistent crunch, and they store well in the refrigerator.
Mid-Season Broccoli Varieties
Mid-season broccoli takes up to 80 days to mature. This is the variety that you’ll plant in spring to harvest in mid-summer. They also work well for those in southern regions who want to grow broccoli throughout the winter.
8. Waltham 29
Waltham is one of the best-known types of broccoli, and we know that Thomas Jefferson grew and enjoyed this heirloom variety.
It’s noted to tolerate cold temperatures, producing blue-green heads with proliferate side shoots.
Waltham 29 grows well in USDA zones 3-10, maturing 85 days after planting.
Something that you will notice as you grow this type of broccoli is that the heads don’t have uniformity.
They continue to grow for harvesting throughout the entire growing season in your garden.
Here is a hybrid broccoli variety that is known for tolerating heat, so it grows well in USDA zones 7-11.
Most broccoli varieties are unable to grow well in these locations, especially zone 11 because they are cool-weather crops.
Destiny is a fantastic choice for southern gardeners who still want to enjoy home-grown broccoli.
Destiny produces small to medium-sized green heads that have a bit of purple color to them. The harvest takes 70-75 days to mature.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest or Northern California, Marathon broccoli grows well. It’s ideal for fall and winter production in these areas.
This variety is tolerant of the cold, making it an excellent choice for over-winter production.
Marathon broccoli can be grown in other regions for a late summer or fall crop. It takes up to 68 days to reach harvest.
It produces a high dome with small flowers that are heavy with thousands of them.
11. Sun King
Here is a broccoli variety that is developed by Burpee exclusively, and it was designed solely to be able to tolerate high temperatures.
You can grow Sun King in USDA zones 1-11; that covers everything from the top of Alaska to the tip of Florida. Everyone can grow and enjoy Sun King broccoli.
Sun King produces blue-green heads that reach 6-8 inches in diameter, and the ripe harvest comes in 70 days. After you harvest the main head, you can expect plenty of side shoots to grow.
Fiesta is a hybrid broccoli variety that matures in 75 days. It’s an excellent choice for summer and fall harvesting because it has limited heat tolerance.
You can try sowing the seeds in late summer to harvest in fall or early winter.
This is a tasty, nutritious variety with dark, blue-green domed heads. They grow on medium, compact plants, and the heads measure 6-7 inches.
Make sure you plant this variety in the full sunlight. It doesn’t have as many side shoots as other types.
Is your area or garden prone to downy mildew? If so, Diplomat broccoli is a fantastic choice! It thrives in the Northeast and the Northwest, doing well in zones 3-8.
It’s not ideal for growing this type in hot areas; it likes moderately warm summer temperatures.
Diplomat broccoli develops uniform, medium-large heads with small flowers. The heads are a dark green color with dense buds packed tightly together.
It works well for bunches or crown cuts. You can expect a harvest in 68 days, measuring 4-6 inches across.
If you’ve tried to grow broccoli before, chances are you saw Belstar as an option. It’s a hybrid cultivar that grows well in the South as a winter crop. You can grow this variety in both the spring and the fall.
Belstar produces six-inch heads that have a blue-green color, and it takes 60-65 days to reach full maturity.
It’s heat-tolerant, making it another excellent choice for southern gardeners. Belstar is known for producing many side shoots after you harvest the main head, so don’t remove the entire plant. Let those side shoots grow!
Here is a different type of broccoli that grows extremely fast compared to other types. Instead of developing a domed, tightly compact, broccoli rabe produces small, spiky broccoli florets that work as cut and come harvesting again. This variety gives you a buffet of broccoli until the end of your growing season.
This is an Italian heirloom that develops into flavorful, asparagus-like side shoots and leaves. It grows well in the early spring and late fall when other crops tend to be less productive.
Believe it or not, rapini is related to both mustard greens and turnips. You can expect a central bud within eight weeks.
Rapini is excellent for cooking or fresh salads. You can start to harvest 6-8 weeks after sowing. Make sure that you cut the stems below the heads, taking clusters of leaves with each harvest.
Quarantina is a unique broccoli rabe because it has pepper leaves that are great to toss into salads for raw eating. It is a non-heading version of broccoli with a strong taste that might not be for everyone, but if you want something different, give it a try.
It takes 40 days for Quarantina to reach harvest. You can harvest young stems, leaves, and all of the small flower buds. You can steam, stir-fry, or add everything to salads.
Quarantina does much better as a fall crop. During this time, the cold nights but the hot temperatures work perfectly for optimal growth. In the right conditions, the plant reaches 8-10 inches tall.
17. Spigariello Liscia
Sometimes, this is called Italian leaf broccoli, and it’s a popular choice for those who live in southern Italy.
It’s a beloved broccoli rabe choice for gardeners. Spigariello Liscia is an open-pollinated variety that tastes like a mixture between kale and broccoli.
You can expect to be able to harvest between 21-45 days after planting. Gardeners harvest single leaves, so you can cut what you need and come back again later for another harvest.
Remember that this isn’t your typical broccoli; it’s a leaf variety that works well for specialty markets.
Specialty Broccoli Varieties
These are unique broccoli varieties that might be a different color or stand out when compared to the regular broccoli. If you want something unique for your garden, try one of these.
The most common specialty broccoli is sprouting broccoli, which is tall, leafy, and stalky plants.
They grow florets rather than a central head. Sprouting broccoli tends to be more bitter, and all parts of the broccoli are edible.
If you’re looking for sprouting broccoli, Apollo develops in 60-90 days. This is a hybrid cultivar that is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale.
That leads to tasty, tender stems like sprouting broccoli. You’ll need to keep extra space between the plants for growth.
For Apollo broccoli to grow well, you need to make sure you add plenty of compost because it requires heavy soil. It also prefers alkaline soil.
You can add lime to increase the acid level in your dirt. It also prefers full sun in an area that has well-draining ground.
19. Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli
If you want a showstopping, purple broccoli variety, then you cannot go wrong with Early Purple Sprouting.
It’s a cold-hardy heirloom that produces dozens of small, purple florets rather than a single, broad head.
One of the great things about Early Purple is it grows well in USDA zones 2-11, so nearly all gardeners in North America can enjoy this broccoli.
Depending on your location, you could have three harvest periods – early spring, midsummer, and early fall. It also can overwinter and pop up in the spring, depending on your location.
Don’t be surprised when the purple florets turn green when cooked. If you want to show off the purple color in a dish, it will need to be served raw, and you also can serve the leaves!
There isn’t a single variety of broccoli that has more unique characteristics than Romanesco. It’s ancient Italian heirloom broccoli with chartreuse pointed, spiral florets. You won’t find the classic green broccoli head here!
Romanesco grows well in zones 3-10, but it does bolt in higher temperatures. For those who live in southern regions, it’ll be best to grow Romanesco throughout the fall, winter, and early spring to avoid those high temperatures.
Unlike other cultivars on this list, Romanesco has a lovely texture with a bit of a nutty flavor. It’s no wonder considering its fantastic features.
This broccoli is sure to bring about some questions from garden visitors or those eating meals with you.
How to Grow Broccoli in Your Garden
Broccoli can be a bit tricky to grow if you don’t follow the guidelines for planting in your garden. It can be easy to plant at the wrong time or start seeds too late inside.
Here is what you need to know.
Start Seeds Indoors
Broccoli does need to be started inside. Plan to start your seeds 6-8 weeks before the final frost in your area. If you don’t know your last frost date, you can look up your USDA hardiness zone to figure it out.
The seedlings can go outside when they’re six inches tall. They need to harden off out for a week before you plant them in the garden.
When To Plant Outside
You can plant broccoli outside 2-3 weeks before the final frost date in your area. Transplant your seedlings into the garden, planting them 1-2 inches deeper than they’re in the containers.
Each seedling should have 18-24 inches between each other.
If you don’t want to start the seeds inside, the other option is to pick fast-maturing varieties and directly sow the seeds in the garden 3-5 weeks before your final frost date.
When the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin the seedlings to the appropriate spacing between each plant. These varieties will mature two months after you direct sow the seeds.
Get The Soil Right
Adding compost to the soil before you plant broccoli is a great idea. Broccoli can be a heavy feeder, so it needs the nutrients to get started.
How Much Light Is Needed
Since broccoli is a cold-weather crop, it can handle partial shade, but be sure to look at the variety you selected Some heat-loving broccoli crops will want to have full sunlight, but the cold-tolerant ones will bolt or change flavors in full sunlight.
Watering & Feeding Needs
These plants need the soil to be kept moist but not soggy. The ground should never never be allowed to dry out totally. To help reduce how often you need to water, lay a thick layer of mulch around your plants. Mulch keeps the ground cold and moist as the temperatures increase.
Since broccoli needs plenty of nutrients, you do need to side-dress with fertilizer throughout the maturation phase. Never put fertilizer on the leaves; put it on the soil around the stems.
Broccoli is an excellent crop for veggie gardeners to add to their beds, and these are some great broccoli varieties to try growing.
If you remember to add nutrients to the soil and keep the soil moist but not soggy, you can expect to have a fantastic harvest within 80 days after planting. Everyone loves fresh broccoli!
Bethany is a suburban homesteader, growing over half of the vegetables, fruit, and herbs that her family of six needs each year. She raises chickens and homeschools her children. When she isn’t spending time tending to her garden, you can find her reading, crocheting, and canning.