How does cabbage plants make seed?

Can you tell me how cabbage plants make seed? Ken C.

Answer: Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi are all the same species, Brassica oleracea.They all have the same seeding and pollination habit. These plants produce a flower stalk that needs to be cross-pollinated by insects. This means that they won’t accept their own pollen.

The cabbage plant sends this flower/seed stalk directly out of the cabbage core. Unless you live in a very long growing zone, home growers will need to select at least three firm ready-to-eat heads in the fall. Remove the plants, roots and all, and store in a root cellar, refrigerator or cold basement. Keep the roots damp and cold during the winter.

To get a cabbage plant to make seed, in the early spring you would replant the plants, leaving two to three feet in between them. They will produce the seed stalk directly from the center of the plant. Cabbage seeds ripen slowly and fall off immediately when they are ripe. So you might want to either harvest the whole plant as the pods turn yellow or pick the dry pods when they turn brown.

If you’re planting in an open garden and growing any other members of the Brassica family, it might be surprising what your seeds develop into. Since the plants can be cross-pollinated with broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc. But they might be interesting in flavor!

Good luck if you give this a try, and happy growing!

Karen

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    sparsh
    December 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

    lovely information, karen

  • Reply
    Mistermak
    May 14, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Are the cabbage heads harvested before the plants are stored in a cool place for the winter?

    • Reply
      jstutzman
      May 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      Mistermak, yes cabbage is harvested. However after harvesting the plants are no longer good for anything.

  • Reply
    onyeka
    October 19, 2016 at 6:16 am

    I’ve harvested my cabbage heads for almost ten months now. the plants are still in the field growing, when should I expect them to flower? I need the seeds. thanks

    • Reply
      jstutzman
      October 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Onyeka, the flower heads grow from within the cabbage head itself, if you have already harvested it, they will not produce seeds.

  • Reply
    onyeka
    October 29, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I harvested the heads in the first growing season, now I’ve smaller heads growing up from the harvested plants. Won’t these produce seeds? I need the seeds

    • Reply
      jstutzman
      November 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Onyeka, that is a possibility. Are you sure this is an open-pollinated variety? If its not, the seeds you are able to save will not produce the same type of cabbage. Joe

  • Reply
    Ebenezer Arthur
    May 3, 2020 at 12:09 am

    Please can I store my cabbage head and remove root in about three feet whole, before planting them in the spring time.
    I need the seed for planting. Am in Ghana

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 15, 2020 at 3:23 pm

      Ebenezer, you’re on the right track, as you know that the cabbage will make seed in the second year. You could definitely try overwintering it in 3 feet of soil before replanting in the spring. Let us know how it works out!

  • Reply
    victor lupai
    July 22, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    how will I get seeds from cabbage

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 7, 2020 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Victor, it is an accomplishment!

      The basic fact is that cabbages will set seeds in the second year, under the right conditions.

      So the real question is how to get your cabbage to overwinter.

      If you’re in a zone where the cabbage can overwinter without a hard frost, it will be easier to get the cabbage to seed. In harsher winter environments, it becomes trickier as you must find a way to help your cabbage survive the winter.

      Some suggestions are to dig the heads up before the first frost, trim the outer leaves off, and plant the heads in a container with potting soil. Then you’ll need to find a storage spot that has the right temperature. The ideal temperature will be 34-39 degrees. Once you’ve overwintered, you can replant your cabbages in spring once the danger of frost has passed.

      Hope this helps! Keep us posted on your progress!

  • Reply
    victor lupai
    July 22, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    am even confused where the agriculturalists get the seeds from cabbages

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 7, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Victor, it is quite a feat to get a cabbage to go to seed, as they must overwinter properly. That being said, I believe the large commercial farms buy their seed.

  • Reply
    mari
    September 20, 2020 at 6:47 am

    Hi
    Thank you for such great article

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 23, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      Mari, you are so welcome! Hope it helps.

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