If you are growing cauliflower for\nthe first time, or if you got small plants last year, you might be wondering\nhow big cauliflower plants can grow. I wanted to know the same thing, so\nI did some research to find out how tall and wide cauliflower plants can get,\nand how large cauliflower heads can grow.\n\n\n\nSo, how\nbig does cauliflower grow? Cauliflower plants can grow 12 to 30 inches\n(30 to 76 centimeters) tall and 12 to 30 inches (30 to 76 centimeters) wide. The central head of cauliflower can grow as\nlarge as 9 inches (23 centimeters) in diameter, but most are 5 to 8 inches (13\nto 20 centimeters) in diameter. \n\n\n\nOf course, the quality of your cauliflower (if you get any at all!) depends\non the care that you give your plants. Let\u2019s take a closer look at cauliflower,\nincluding size, growing conditions, and time to maturity.\n\n\n\nHow Big Does Cauliflower Grow?\n\n\n\nThe average size of a head of cauliflower is 5 to 8 inches\n(13 to 20 centimeters) in diameter, depending on the variety and when you\nchoose to harvest it. Some cauliflower\nplants can grow heads as large as 9 inches (23 centimeters) in diameter.\n\n\n\nA head of cauliflower can range from 4 to 9 centimeters (10 to 23 centimeters) in diameter.\n\n\n\nThere are also smaller, faster-maturing varieties of\ncauliflower that yield heads with a diameter of 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10\ncentimeters) throughout the growing season.\n\n\n\nThe cauliflower plants themselves will grow to heights of 12\nto 30 inches (30 to 76 centimeters) tall and 12 to 30 inches (30 to 76 centimeters)\nwide.\n\n\n\nOf course, the shorter, more compact varieties will often produce cauliflower heads of smaller diameter. The trade-off is that the heads mature more quickly than larger varieties.\n\n\n\nHow Long Does It Take Cauliflower to Grow?\n\n\n\nSome cauliflower plants, such as Fioretto from Burpee or White Corona from Burpee, can produce mature heads in as little as 30 days (4 weeks) after transplanting outdoors! However, these heads tend to be on the smaller side, with a diameter of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters).\n\n\n\nMost cauliflower plants will take 70 to 100 days from planting a seed to harvesting a mature head.\n\n\n\nFor cauliflower plants with larger heads, it can take 35 to\n70 days (5 to 10 weeks) after transplanting to produce mature heads. Of course, seeds need to be started indoors\nseveral weeks before transplanting outdoors.\n\n\n\nCauliflower seeds will take 4 to 10 days to germinate under\nideal temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius). It will take at least a few weeks longer\nuntil the young cauliflower plants are ready for transplant.\n\n\n\nThis means that larger varieties of cauliflower will take 70\nto 100 days (10 to 14 weeks) from planting a seed to harvesting a mature head.\n\n\n\nHow Many Heads of Cauliflower Do You Get From One Plant?\n\n\n\nA cauliflower plant will produce one large, central head, as\nlong as growing conditions are ideal. \nThis includes moist soil with organic matter and proper temperatures. \n\n\n\nIf the temperature is much higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit\n(21 degrees Celsius), it may cause the cauliflower to \u201cbutton\u201d. This means that the cauliflower plant forms small\nand underdeveloped heads, rather than growing a single well-developed head.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out this article on cauliflower from the Old Farmer\u2019s Almanac.\n\n\n\nHow Do You Know When to Pick Cauliflower?\n\n\n\nA head of cauliflower should be firm, and the \u201cbunches\u201d\nshould be compact and clustered close together. \nIf you wait too long to harvest, flowers will emerge from the plant, and\nthe head will become bitter to the taste.\n\n\n\nWhen cauliflower bunches start to open up, then flowering is\nimminent. At that point, it is time to\nharvest the head, even if the size is smaller than what you were hoping for.\n\n\n\nMost normal varieties of cauliflower will be ready to\nharvest when the head reaches a diameter of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20\ncentimeters). Smaller, more compact\nvarieties of cauliflower that mature more quickly may be harvested when the\nhead reaches a diameter of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters)\n\n\n\nOf course, the diameter of a cauliflower head at maturity\nwill depend on the variety, so check the seed packet or catalog to be sure.\n\n\n\nWhat Does Cauliflower Look Like?\n\n\n\nCauliflower has an appearance similar to broccoli, except\nthat its heads are normally white (although there are also yellow, orange, and\npurple cauliflower heads!)\n\n\n\nSome cauliflower has heads that grow purple (as seen here). You may also see yellow or orange cauliflower heads. Most, however, are white.\n\n\n\nLike broccoli, cauliflower heads are formed from clusters of\ntiny buds (they can eventually grow into flowers). These buds (flower heads) are the part of the\nplant that we eat before the flowers bloom.\n\n\n\nWhy Are My Cauliflower Plants So Small?\n\n\n\nAny conditions that stress your cauliflower plant will cause\nit to grow heads that are smaller than normal. \nThis is due to the fact that the plant will \u201cgo to seed\u201d, or try to\nproduce flowers to reproduce, due to a perceived shortage of resources.\n\n\n\nConditions that stress a cauliflower plant include drought,\nextreme temperatures, and a lack of nutrients in the soil. I have included more information on watering,\nideal temperature, and fertilizing for cauliflower plants below.\n\n\n\nAre Cauliflower Plants Hard to Grow?\n\n\n\nCauliflower likes full sun, so be sure to plant them in an area where they\nget 8 or more hours of sunlight per day. Avoid planting cauliflower in a\nplace where it will be completely shaded by a tree or tall neighboring plants\n(such as tomatoes).\n\n\n\nCauliflower grows best in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0\n(slightly acidic). However, there are many other factors that affect cauliflower\ngrowth, including temperature, watering, fertilizing, and spacing. Let\u2019s\nstart with temperature.\n\n\n\nTemperature for Cauliflower\n\n\n\nThe minimum temperature for cauliflower seed germination is 40 degrees\nFahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any colder than this, you\nwill see low germination rates \u2013 that is, if you can get any seeds at all to\ngerminate!\n\n\n\nThis is nature\u2019s way of protecting cauliflower seeds from sprouting at a\ntime when they will be unable to survive. This is why it is suggested\nthat you start cauliflower seeds indoors to avoid cold soil temperatures in\nearly spring.\n\n\n\nThe maximum temperature for cauliflower seed germination is 95 degrees\nFahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any warmer than this,\ngermination rates will decrease.\n\n\n\nCombined with high humidity, high temperatures can encourage the growth of\nmold, which is another threat to your plants. So, don\u2019t wait too long to\nplant your cauliflower seeds and transplant your established plants outside!\n\n\n\nYou should start cauliflower seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting\ninto the garden.\n\n\n\nThe ideal (optimal) temperature for cauliflower seed germination is between\n65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4\ndegrees Celsius).\n\n\n\nKeep in mind that these temperatures refer to soil temperature, not air\ntemperature. If you want to find out the soil temperature, use a\nprobe-type thermometer to check.\n\n\n\nIf the thermometer reads a temperature that is too low, then you have some\noptions. One option is to wait until the sun warms up the soil.\n\n\n\nTo speed up this process, clear away any debris, such as leaves or grass\nclippings, from the soil surface. Also make sure to choose a location for\nplanting that gets plenty of sun, so that it can warm up the soil faster.\n\n\n\nIf you are worried about a short growing season, you can also use a cloche\n(a plastic or glass cover) to trap some heat and warm up the air and soil near\nyour cauliflower seeds.\n\n\n\nA cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle to retain warmth and\nhumidity in the soil for seeds or seedlings as they grow. \n\n\n\nFor more information, check out the table below, and check out this\narticle from the University of California on ideal seed germination\ntemperatures.\n\n\n\n\n Seed \n Germination \n Temperature \n \n Temperature \n (degrees \n Fahrenheit) \n \n Temperature \n (degrees \n Celsius) \n \n Minimum \n \n 40 \n \n 4 \n \n Ideal \n \n 65 to 85 \n \n 18.3 to 29.4 \n \n Maximum \n \n 95 \n \n 35 \n \n\n\n\nWatering for Cauliflower\n\n\n\nCauliflower needs regular watering, so keep the soil moist to avoid water\nstress. This is a key factor for\npreventing \u201cbuttoning\u201d, or premature flowering, which leads to small heads and\nbitter taste.\n\n\n\nYou may need to water more often for sandy soil, which drains quickly even\nwhen soaked thoroughly. Dry, sunny\nweather also means you will need to water more often.\n\n\n\nBe sure to keep the soil moist for your cauliflower plants, to avoid bolting (premature flowering) and small, bitter heads.\n\n\n\nPutting mulch on top of your soil will help to retain moisture. If you\nfind that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.\n\n\n\nOn the other hand, over watering your cauliflower plants (or any plants for\nthat matter) can lead to root rot and eventual death. The best way to\ndecide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.\n\n\n\nIf the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and\nwater. For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.\n\n\n\nTry to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to\nsoak into the soil before evaporating.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out this article on growing cauliflower from the University of Minnesota Extension.\n\n\n\nFertilizing for Cauliflower\n\n\n\nAdding compost to your soil before planting cauliflower is a good way to\nimprove drainage for clay soil, improve water retention for sandy soil, and add\nnutrients to your garden.\n\n\n\nCompost is a good way to add organic material and nutrients to your soil white recycling kitchen scraps and yard waste.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on making compost.\n\n\n\nThe University of Georgia Extension suggests using a 5-10-15 fertilizer at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet of soil. \n\n\n\nAvoid excessive nitrogen or manure that has not decomposed completely, since\nthis can burn your plants.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on over fertilizing your plants.\n\n\n\nSpacing for Cauliflower\n\n\n\nWhen starting cauliflower seeds indoors, sow the seeds 0.25 inches (0.6 centimeters) deep, 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date. You can find frost dates in your area on the Farmer\u2019s Almanac website.\n\n\n\nTransplant the young cauliflower plants outside 2 weeks\nbefore the last frost date. Space the\nplants 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) apart in a row (leave more space\nfor fall plantings).\n\n\n\nLeave 30 inches (76 centimeters) between rows. This will allow space for watering, weeding,\nfertilizing, and harvesting your cauliflower plants.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out this article on cauliflower from the University of Illinois Extension.\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nNow you should have a better idea of how big cauliflower can grow.\u00a0 You also have some tips on how to help cauliflower plants to grow to their full potential.\n\n\n\nYou might also want to read my article on fall planting for cool weather crops.\n\n\n\nI hope that this article was helpful\n\u2013 if so, please share it with someone who can use the information. If you\nhave any questions or advice of your own about growing cauliflower, please\nleave a comment below.