Growing cauliflower in containers allows apartment dwellers and others without space for a traditional garden to produce a crop on a balcony, porch or patio. Varieties suitable for containers include Snow Crown, Early Snowball and Early Dawn. Cauliflower thrives in cool weather, so you can grow it before or after another container crop, making the best use of your small space. Plant the seeds in early spring, when a light frost is still possible, or in midsummer, for fall harvest. In warm, southern climates, fall crops produce better quality heads.
Fill a 5-gallon container with potting soil. Use a container with several drainage holes that is at least 10 inches deep. Moisten the soil with water.
Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep or according to the seed packet recommendations.
Position the container where it receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Water as necessary to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Cauliflower develops a strong flavour if the soil is too dry.
Fertilise lightly but frequently with a liquid fertiliser according to the package instructions. Alternatively, mix compost with the potting soil before planting. Use 1 part compost to 3 parts potting soil.
Tie the leaves over the top of the cauliflower head when it is about the size of a silver dollar. This is called blanching the head. It allows the head to develop its white colour and prevents strong flavours that develop when the head is exposed to the sun.
Harvest the heads when they reach their full size of 6 to 12 inches in diameter, depending on the variety, and when they are completely white.
Some new cultivars are self-blanching. Consult your seed packet to determine whether your variety needs blanching.
Tips and warnings
- Some new cultivars are self-blanching. Consult your seed packet to determine whether your variety needs blanching.
- Oregon State University Extension: Growing Vegetable in Containers
- Colorado State University Extension; Vegetable Gardening in Containers; David Whitting, et al.; December 2006
- North Carolina State University Extension; Mini-Gardening; Larry Bass; March 1995
- Cornell Cooperative Extension: Growing Vegetables, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers
- University of Deleware Cooperative Extension; Cole Crops; Ed Kee; April, 2004
- Utah State University Extension; Cauliflower in the Garden; Dan Drost, et al.