Cauliflower is a mild-flavoured winter veg that's high in fibre and nutrients. Cauliflower heads are most commonly eaten, but the leaves and stems are also edible. Give Cauliflower a nitrogen-rich fertiliser and protect from cabbage white butterfly.
Binomial name: Brassica oleracea botrytis
Life Cycle: Biennial (usually grown as an annual)
When to Sow Cauliflower Seeds
Cauliflower is a cool season crop. Use the table below to identify the best time of year to sow cauliflower in your climate.
Cauliflower plants are best grown in full sun. Choose a location that will receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.
Cauliflower plants need a well drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to loosen it and adding aged animal manure or compost. Keep the area free of weeds until planting.
How to Sow Cauliflower Seeds
Cauliflower seeds do not require any treatment (eg soaking, stratification) before sowing.
Cauliflower seeds can be sown directly into the garden OR seedlings can be raised in trays or other containers and transplanted to the garden once established.
Sow seeds directly in the garden 5mm deep and 45-70cm apart, with rows 75-90cm apart.
Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
Seeds should germinate in around 7-14 days at a soil temperature of 10-30°C.
Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.
Fill trays, punnets or jiffy pots with a good quality seed-raising mix, or use soil starter pellets.
Sow seeds 5mm deep.
Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
Seeds should germinate in around 7-14 days at a soil temperature of 10-30°C.
Transplant seedlings to the garden once they have their first true leaves and are large enough to handle (usually 5-10cm tall).
Plant out, spacing plants 45-70cm apart, with rows 75-90cm apart.
Cauliflower is a cool season crop that will bolt in very hot weather. Do not transplant seedlings or sow seeds outside in very warm temperatures.
How to Grow Cauliflower
Cauliflower plants need regular watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.
If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a balanced fertiliser or one formulated for fruit and vegetables can be beneficial:
Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency while plants are fruiting or flowering.
How to Harvest Cauliflower
Cauliflower should be ready to harvest in approximately 100-160 days.
Heads are ready to be harvested when they are fully grown but before any flowers open. Cut off the head with about 10-15cm of stem. Store heads in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. For long term storage, cauliflower can be pickled or blanched then frozen.
Common Problems when Growing Cauliflower
Like all plants, cauliflower is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing cauliflower plants:
Cabbage moth and cabbage white butterfly have white or grey wings with distinctive markings. They lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. Their caterpillars feed on the leaves, creating large holes and sometimes skeletonising the leaves. Use netting to exclude butterflies and moths or decoys to deter them. Pick the caterpillars off the plants or use an appropriate spray in a selective and targeted way. Read more about cabbage moth and cabbage white butterfly here.
Heads not forming is usually caused by warm weather or by growing plants too slowly, without adequate water or nutrients. Check to make sure you are growing a head-forming type of cauliflower. In warm climates, grow cauliflower in autumn and spring to avoid extreme temperatures. Water regularly and ensure adequate compost or fertiliser is applied.
Bolting is when a plant prematurely flowers and goes to seed. Bolting can be caused by a period of extreme weather. Avoid sowing seed until after the danger of frosts has passed or in very hot weather. Water plants regularly and deeply in hot weather to prevent them suffering heat stress.
Hollow stems can be caused by warm weather or by too much nitrogen in the soil. In warm climates, grow cauliflower in autumn and spring to avoid extreme temperatures. Do not overfeed plants with high-nitrogen fertilisers. Plants with hollow stems can be eaten as long as the stems are not rotten.
Aphids are small (2-4mm long) sap-sucking insects that congregate on the new shoots or the undersides of leaves. They can cause leaves to wilt or become discoloured, and also excrete honeydew which can attract ants and other insect pests. To manage aphids, remove them by spraying with a garden hose, apply a soap or alcohol spray, or encourage predatory insects to your garden. Read more about aphids here.
Powdery mildew is caused by fungal spores reproducing on the leaves of plants. First showing as white spots on leaves, affected areas areas can spread quickly to cover the entire leaf surface. While rarely fatal, powdery mildew can reduce yields. Water plants at soil level (not on the leaves) to prevent spreading spores, allow good air flow between plants, remove affected leaves and if necessary spray with an appropriate fungicide or homemade spray. Read more here about powdery mildew here.
Possums, birds and other animals can ruin a large percentage of your harvest overnight. Physically exclude pests by using netting or cages, or try spraying plants with a pungent homemade spray made from garlic, fish oil or mustard.
Cutworms are moth larvae that live in the soil, emerging at night to feed. The caterpillars are 3-4cm long and white, grey or brown in colour. They can chew through the stems of tender seedlings, felling them at ground level. Remove cutworms by hand at night or use cardboard collars to protect the stems of seedlings.
The term ‘The Seed Collection Pty Ltd’ or ‘us’ or ‘we’ refers to the owner of the website whose registered office is . Our ABN is 61614299697. The term ‘you’ refers to the user or viewer of our website.
The content of the pages of this website is for your general information and use only. It is subject to change without notice.
Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.
This website contains material which is owned by or licensed to us. This material includes, but is not limited to, the design, layout, look, appearance and graphics. Reproduction is prohibited other than in accordance with the copyright notice, which forms part of these terms and conditions.
All trademarks reproduced in this website, which are not the property of, or licensed to the operator, are acknowledged on the website.
Unauthorised use of this website may give rise to a claim for damages and/or be a criminal offence.
From time to time, this website may also include links to other websites. These links are provided for your convenience to provide further information. They do not signify that we endorse the website(s). We have no responsibility for the content of the linked website(s).
Your use of this website and any dispute arising out of such use of the website is subject to the laws of Australia.
We are committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.
We may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.
What we collect
We may collect the following information:
name and job title
contact information including email address
demographic information such as postcode, preferences and interests
other information relevant to customer surveys and/or offers
What we do with the information we gather
We require this information to understand your needs and provide you with a better service, and in particular for the following reasons:
Internal record keeping.
We may use the information to improve our products and services.
We may periodically send promotional emails about new products, special offers or other information which we think you may find interesting using the email address which you have provided. You will have the option to opt-out of all non-essential email.
Any personal information which you supply will not be divulged to a third party unless that third party is integral to the purpose for which you gave us your information or where required by law.
We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.
A cookie is a small file which asks permission to be placed on your computer's hard drive. Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.
We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used. This helps us analyse data about webpage traffic and improve our website in order to tailor it to customer needs. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system.
Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better website by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us.
You can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. This may prevent you from taking full advantage of the website.
Links to other websites
Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.
Controlling your personal information
You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:
If you have previously agreed to us using your personal information for direct marketing purposes, you may change your mind at any time by writing to or emailing us.
If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us as soon as possible and we will promptly correct any information found to be incorrect.