Broccoli Rabe Harvest: How And When To Cut Broccoli Raab Plants

by johnah on November 20, 2020

How To Grow Broccoli Rabe In Containers

Growing Broccoli Rabe In Containers: Growing Rapini & Yellow Flowers

The following are some tips to help you with your broccoli rabe growing. If you have any other questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below!

1) You must use good quality soil.

Avoid using potting mix from a garden center because it contains fertilizers and pesticides that will harm your plants.

2) Use composted manure (available at most gardening centers).

Composted manure is much better than organic fertilizer.

3) Do not plant broccoli rabe in the same spot twice.

It is best to start them out in different locations so they get used to their new surroundings. Also, do not over water your plants since this may cause root rot which can kill your plants.

4) Keep your plants well watered until they are ready to flower.

Watering too little can result in stunted growth. Too much water can lead to root rot which can eventually kill your plants.

5) Make sure that you keep the temperature between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during winter months when temperatures drop below freezing.

Keeping the temperature above 75 degrees F will make it difficult for your broccoli rabe to survive the cold weather conditions.

6) You can grow your broccoli rabe plants in hanging pots or in containers on the ground.

If you are growing in a container, make sure the container has at least one hole at the bottom for drainage.

Harvesting Broccoli Rabe

When: We typically cut our first heads of broccoli rabe in mid-July, and then every four weeks thereafter until mid-October. The plants typically start to look “tired” and the heads start to get a little too big for their stems. Your call on when to cut them.

How: Cut the entire plant at the base of the crown.

Tips: If you are dedicated, you can cut all the leaves from just the head, wash and chop them to use in salads or other recipes. The remaining stubby stem with the flower will regenerate into another full sized flowering broccoli rabe plant!

Mulching: When the plants start to look “tired” in mid-to-late October, spread a generous layer of straw (not hay) around the plants to keep the rodents from eating them during the winter. We learned this the hard way when our entire garden was eaten down to the ground!

Inspecting Broccoli Rabe

When: Every few days during the growing season.

How: Gently tug on leaves and stems to see if they are firmly attached.

Spraying: None unless needed for other bugs or diseases.

Watering: Not necessary since we have plenty of rain in the winter.

Fertilizing: We don’t fertilize, but if you want to you can apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring.

Pests & Diseases: See our Pest & Disease Guide for info. on how to deal with issues like this.


When: You can harvest your broccoli rabe at any size. If it is a large heading variety, wait until after it has formed a tight “head.” Cut the entire stalk at the base of the crown where it joins the main stem.

How: Snip off the desired amount from the main stalk.

Tips: You can eat the entire plant. The bigger the head, the older and tougher the leaves will be. Pick when they are young and tender!

Sources & references used in this article:

Living Mulch and Organic Fertilization to Improve Weed Management, Yield and Quality of Broccoli Raab in Organic Farming by M Fracchiolla, M Renna, M D’Imperio, C Lasorella… – Plants, 2020 –

Genetic Diversity in broccoli rabe (Brassica rapa L. subsp. sylvestris (L.) Janch.) from Southern Italy by R Mazzeo, A Morgese, G Sonnante, DL Zuluaga… – Scientia …, 2019 – Elsevier

Broccoli type adapted for ease of harvest by F van den Bosch, MP Boon – US Patent 8,030,549, 2011 – Google Patents

Broccoli type adapted for ease of harvest by F van den Bosch, MP Boon – US Patent App. 12/656,445, 2010 – Google Patents



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