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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts in Pots: Everything You Need to Know

Brussel sprouts are nutritious, delicious and easy to grow, even if you don’t have a lot of space. Our comprehensive guide will tell you exactly how to grow Brussel sprouts to get the best yield – including how to grow Brussel sprouts in pots.

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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts in Pots Everything You Need to Know

What are Brussel Sprouts?

how to grow Brussel sprouts to get the best yield

Brussels sprout are part of the Brassicaceae family of plants, which also includes kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage and mustard greens.

Also called cruciferous vegetables, they got their name from their cultivation in Belgium during the 16th century, which is why they are named after the capital city. 

Today, they can be found all over the world, growing in all types of climates.

Are Brussel Sprouts Good for You?

Yes! They are low in calories and high in fiber as well as vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, antioxidants and manganese. This makes them good for bone health, promoting healthy gut bacteria, a strong immune system and supporting cell renewal.

How Should Brussel Sprouts Be Cooked?

Cooked Brussel Sprout

These small, cabbage-like vegetables are very versatile and can be cooked in any number of ways. Popular recipes include:

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts

Like any plant, these vegetables need the right conditions in order to grow well and produce a good yield.

Brussels sprout are part of the Brassicaceae family of plants, which also includes kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cabbage and mustard greens

Climate 

They prefer cool weather like that in the Pacific Northwest, but can grow across the USA. The best zones for these sprouts are 2-9, and the preferred temperature is between 45-75 degrees, although they are somewhat frost-hardy.

Sunshine 

These plants love full sunshine, so plant them where they get around 6 hours of direct light each day.

Soil 

They enjoy a neutral pH soil that is loamy in nature. You can add lots of compost and organic matter to improve the quality of your soil if it is very sandy or clay.

Water 

The soils should be kept moist but not soaking wet. Water 1-1.5 inches of water per week, and water more often during a heatwave. If the first 2 inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water your sprouts.

Fertilizer 

Use a general-purpose 14-14-14 or high nitrogen fertilizer twice during the growing season, first when the plants reach 12 inches high, and one month following that.

Here are some tips on how to fertilize your garden.

When to Plant Brussel Sprouts

This vegetable crop is slow-growing and very rewarding over a long season, so it should be planted in early spring for a late summer crop, or mid-summer for a fall crop.

The crop matures well in cooler weather and light frosts. You want to avoid having the crop mature in hot or dry weather, as the sprouts will be bitter and insubstantial.

Varieties of Brussels Sprouts

Rubine brussels sprout

There are several popular types of Brussels sprouts in the USA, including:

Rubine 

A lower-yield heirloom variety that produces a very good flavor. Ready for harvest in 85-95 days.

Long Island Improved 

A small, high-yield variety that is good for much colder climates and can tolerate freezing temperatures. Ready for harvest in 90 days.

Jade Cross 

This plant produces bite-sized sprouts that are ideal for freezing. It’s disease resistant and compact, growing well in windy conditions. Ready for harvest in 90 days.

Tasty Nuggets 

This is one of the sweetest and most flavorful sprouts, with none of the bitterness that most people don’t enjoy. You’ll get high yields from these compact plants in just 80 days.

Growing Brussels Sprouts in the Garden

Growing Brussels Sprouts in the Garden

Brussels sprouts are an easy and rewarding vegetable to grow, especially out in a vegetable garden or raised bed. They also make great companion plants to dill, rosemary, sage, garlic, marigolds, beets, carrots, celery and lettuce.

They shouldn’t be planted near other calciferous vegetables in the same family. When planting your Brussels sprouts, remember to:

  • Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
  • Enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost, bark chips, and grass cuttings if it is sandy or full of clay. 
  • Develop a neutral soil pH. You can first test your soil with a soil pH tester kit. If it is alkaline, you can add acid compost, pine needle mulch or sphagnum peat.

    If it is acidic, you can add garden lime or dolomite lime.
  • Cover the bed with a 3-inch layer of mulch to help prevent weeds and moisture loss.
  • Plant each seedling 18-24 inches apart to give them space to grow.
  • Check moisture levels frequently and water when the top two inches of soil are dry, especially in summer heatwaves.

    Here are some reviews of the best watering cans and the best sprinkler systems for vegetable gardens
  • Feed with a good quality 14-14-14 or high nitrogen fertilizer twice during the growing season.
  • When the sprouts start to develop, pull off the bottom 6-8 leaves on the plant stalk and cut off the top of the stalk below the growing point near the tip.

    This will divert more energy to the production of the sprouts.

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts in Pots

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts in Pots

If you don’t have a lot of space, don’t worry! These plants do well in containers and can thrive on balconies and on patios with ease, growing vertically without needing additional support.

Here's the process for growing Brussel Sprouts in containers.

  • Choose a pot that is 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep, and fill it with good quality potting soil.
  • Plant your seedling or seed and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. If the first inch of soil is dry, it needs watering. 
  • Feed with a slow-release fertilizer like a 15-30-15. Mix one tablespoon of fertilizer into one gallon of water and use that every 2 weeks.

    Because the plant is in a pot, the water leaches the nutrients out more easily, so you have to feed it more often than if it were in the garden.
  • When the sprouts start to develop, pull off the bottom 6-8 leaves on the plant stalk and cut off the top of the stalk below the growing point near the tip.

    This will divert more energy to the production of the sprouts.

Common Problems with Brussels Sprouts

These plants are pretty hardy and disease-resistant, but they can suffer from some problems.

Boron 

Boron is a trace element that these plants rely on to develop the sprouts, so without it you will see low yields as well as hollow stems and small buds.

To correct this, add one teaspoon of borax to 5 quarts of water and evenly water your bed. This will be enough for a 50 square foot bed. Do not apply unless you see the symptoms listed above.

Insects 

Brussels sprouts can be infested with aphids, cutworms, cabbageworm, cabbage maggots, harlequin bugs or diamondback moths

Brussels sprouts can be infested with aphids, cutworms, cabbageworm, cabbage maggots, harlequin bugs or diamondback moths.

In all cases, you can physically remove the insects by hand or a strong jet of water, or you can spray them with neem oil or an insecticide.

Insecticide should be your very last option, because it is bad for the environment and will kill beneficial insects too, which can make your problem worse.

Another good idea is to plant mustard plants near your sprouts, as they will draw the insects away from the sprouts, and you can then destroy the mustard plant.

Fungus  

Sprouts can also be infected by fungus like powdery mildew and rust. Usually, this affects plants that are being overwatered or are not getting enough sun, which can be corrected.

You can also treat the fungus with neem oil or a fungicide. Rotating your crops each season will also help prevent this issue.

When using a fungicide or insecticide, be very careful to clean your sprouts well when you harvest them, as these are usually very toxic substances that are dangerous to people and pets – another reason why organic and eco-friendly methods should be tried first!

How to Harvest Brussel Sprouts

How to Harvest Brussel Sprouts

It’s best – and easiest – to harvest your crop by hand!

  • When the sprouts reach their mature size (1-2 inches in diameter depending on the variety) in about 90 days, twist them off the main stalk.
  • Work from the bottom of the stalk to the top as the sprouts mature, as the lower sprouts will mature a few days or weeks before the newer sprouts higher up.

If very cold winter weather is approaching, you can trick the plant into maturing all the sprouts faster by cutting off the top of the plant 3 weeks prior to when you want to harvest.

If you live in the South, you can leave the sprouts on the plant in cold weather and harvest them as needed.

If you’re in a colder area, you can protect the plants by surrounding them with hay or hessian sacking if you want to keep them on the plant longer.

How to Store Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be eaten fresh, refrigerated or even frozen! Here’s how to store your harvest:

  • Refrigerator – Put unwashed, freshly harvested sprouts in bags in the refrigerator. They will last a week or a bit longer. The taste will get stronger the longer they are stored.
  • On the stalk – These will stay fresh and tastier for longer if kept on the stalk than if they are loose.
  • Freezer – Some varieties can be frozen very successfully. All you need to do is blanch them for 4 minutes in boiling water. Strain and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process immediately.

    Allow them to dry completely, and freeze in bags or airtight containers.

Now You Know How to Grow Brussel Sprouts!

Sure, Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, but that’s just because we didn’t know how to cook them well! Healthy, nutritious and low in calories, this cousin of the humble cabbage is tasty, sweet and nutty – the perfect side dish to any dinner.

Remember to plant them in cool weather during early spring, to make sure your soil is loamy and rich in organic matter, to feed them twice a season with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and to water them regularly without waterlogging the roots, and you’ll have a great harvest in about 90 days.

Now that you know how to grow Brussel sprouts, even in a pot, we can’t wait to see what you do with your harvest!

About the Author Ann

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