How does cabbage plants make seed?

cabbageCan you tell me how cabbage plants make seeds? Ken C.

Answer: Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi are all of the same species, Brassica oleracea, and have the same seeding and pollination habit. These plants produce a flower stalk that needs to be cross-pollinated (meaning a plant will not accept its own pollen) by insects. 

The cabbage plant sends this flower/seed stalk directly out of the cabbage core. Home growers, unless they live in a very long growing zone, in the fall will need to select at least three firm ready-to-eat heads and 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. 

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.  Since cabbage seeds ripen slowly and fall off immediately when they are ripe, you might want to either harvest the whole plant as the pods turn yellow or pick the dry pods when they turn brown. 

When planted in the open garden – and if you are growing any other members of the Brassica family – you might be surprised 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.

Karen

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8 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

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