Growing Brussel sprouts in a container is not the same as many other vegetables, especially if it is your first time growing them. Brussel sprout plants get surprisingly large and quite tall, requiring support for the plant. Are Brussel sprouts suitable for growing in containers, and what measures do you need to take to ensure success?
Brussel sprouts can be grown in a container, but require a large container, and the time of sowing must be considered. A single plant can be grown in 12-inch deep containers with a 12 to 14-inch diameter. Brussel sprouts prefer cool conditions and need well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil.
Brussel sprouts are unusual, and many people unfamiliar with this plant think they grow close to the ground like regular cabbage. Brussel sprouts are a surprisingly tall, large plant, and the small vegetables are produced directly on the tall stem. When growing Brussel sprouts in containers, the plant’s physical structure require special consideration.
Do Brussel Sprouts Grow Well in Containers?
Brussel sprouts can be grown successfully in containers, but this large plant is surprisingly delicate and sensitive to heat and cold, particularly frost.
The growing environment and size of the Brussel sprout plant make it important to choose the right container and plant at the right time for the plant to thrive and develop a good crop.
What Container Is Best For Growing Brussel Sprouts?
Brussel sprouts need a fairly large container, especially if you want to companion plant with the sprouts.
The container best for growing Brussel sprouts must be at least 12-inches deep to provide the depth needed for the fairly large roots and to offer stability for the top-heavy plant.
The container must have a diameter of at least 12-inches, but 14-inches would be better to provide enough lateral space for the plant.
This container size would provide enough space to grow a single Brussel sprout plant. If you want to grow two plants in a single container, the minimum diameter must be increased to at least 18-inches.
The container must have good drainage since Brussel sprouts like moist soil but must not become waterlogged. You can use plastic or clay ports for growing these plants, but clay pots make the best containers for Brussel sprouts because they keep the roots cool and offer better air exchange in the soil.
Plastic containers will work if you can keep the container out of direct sunlight but still provide sufficient light for the plant to thrive.
What Soil Is Best For Growing Brussel Sprouts In Containers?
Soil choice is important for growing Brussel sprouts in containers because the plants like continuously moist soil but will suffer from root rot quickly if they become waterlogged.
The Brussel sprout plants become stressed very quickly if the soil dries out, which can affect the flavor of the harvested sprouts. If subjected to water stress, the sprouts can become bitter.
It is particularly important that the soil remains moist towards the latter half of the growing season when the plant begins to produce the sprouts.
Brussel sprouts require a well-draining quality potting mix with high nitrogen and organic matter content. They also prefer slightly acidic soil in the 6.2 pH to 6.5 pH range.
When Should You Plant Brussel Sprouts in Containers?
Timing is crucial in growing Brussel sprouts in containers because of their intolerance for heat and cold.
The best planting time for Brussel sprouts in containers if you are keeping your containers outdoors is 100 days before the date, where you typically have your first frost in the late fall or early winter. When planting Brussel sprouts, it is important to know the first frost dates for your local region.
The plants take between 90 and 100 days after planting to produce a crop ready for harvest. The plant must not be subjected to water stress or hot conditions, particularly once it starts to fruit, or the sprouts will be bitter.
How To Grow Brussel Sprouts In Containers
Brussel sprouts grow very well from seeds, but they require a temperatures range of between 50°F and 85°F or 10°C and 29°C to germinate. The seeds can take between 5 and 20 days to germinate, so do not give up on the seeds too quickly.
Plant the seeds ½ inch or just over 1cm deep, cover lightly with potting soil and moisten the seeds. Do not allow the seeds dry out, or they will not germinate.
If the temperatures are too cold or too hot, the seeds will not germinate, so most gardeners planting from seed prefer to start the plants indoors. An alternative to germinating from seed is to purchase Brussel sprout seedlings from your local garden center.
The plants can be started in seed containers or directly in the containers they will be growing in for the season. Once the seedlings are about 5-inches or 12cm tall, you can harden them off and relocate them to an outdoor container or move their growing container outdoors.
If you have mild winter temperatures, you can grow sprouts throughout the winter and harvest, but if you have cold winters, plant the seeds or seedlings 100 days before you typically have the first winter frost.
Water the Brussel sprout plants frequently to prevent the soil from drying out, especially once the sprouts begin to appear on the plant, but do not over-water.
A sunny location with good air circulation is a good spot to position your Brussel sprout container, but avoid windy areas which could cause the plant to topple over. If your region experienced warmer temperatures, a semi-shaded location would be a good position for your Brussel sprout container.
As the sprouts begin to develop on the plant, it may become a little top-heavy and fall over. If your Brussel sprout plant starts to lean to one side, you may need to stake it to prevent it from falling over.
Feed the Brussel sprout plant by side-dressing every 3 to 4 weeks with nitrogen-rich compost containing well-aged manure. Mulching the top of the soil in the container with the compost is a good way to feed the plant and keep the soil moist.
Harvest the sprouts at the bottom of the plant first once the spouts are between 1-inch and 2-inches in diameter and have a firm, green appearance.
As you harvest the lower sprouts, remove the leaves where you have harvested. This encourages the plant to concentrate its energy into developing the sprouts higher up the stem.
Do not pull the sprouts too hard to remove them from the stem; this could pull the plant over. Remove the sprouts with a twisting motion to detach them from the stem.
Brussel sprouts can be grown in containers but can be a little fussy, especially for first-time growers. Once you get a feel for growing these plants, you can grow them quite easily in containers if you make sure you meet their needs.
Growing your own Brussel sprouts gives you control of the growing environment and the harvesting process so you can be sure of sweet, succulent sprouts for your table!