Planting Cabbage

Cabbage seedling
Cabbage seedlings in cool weather
Plant cabbage in early spring for summer harvest. Plant cabbage in late spring for fall harvest.

Cabbage can be harvested nearly all year round as long as the weather stays cool. The key to planting cabbage is to choose the season in your region where cabbage will grow and come to harvest in cool weather.

Plant cabbage in early to mid spring for harvest mid summer onward.

Plant autumn cabbage in late spring for harvest in fall.

Plant winter cabbage in late spring for harvest in winter.

Plant spring cabbage in summer for harvest next spring.

Cabbage Planting Calendar. Cabbage is a cool-season crop that requires 70 to 120 days to reach harvest. Cabbage is best grown in temperatures between 25ºF and 80ºF (9º-27ºC), but is frost-hardy to temperatures as low as 20ºF. Cabbage grown in weather that is either too hot or too cold will bolt without forming a head. Weather that is too warm also can cause cabbage to split. Plant cabbage so that it is ready for harvest in cool weather.

Spring planting cabbage. Sow cabbage seed 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date. Allow 60 to 90 growing days before temperatures rise consistently above 80ºF (27ºC). Cabbage planted in early spring will be ready for harvest in early summer. In cool regions, cabbage planted in mid spring will be ready for harvest from mid summer onwards.

Autumn planting cabbage. Plant cabbage in mid to late summer for harvest in autumn or winter. Summer planted cabbage must come to harvest in the cool weather of autumn or winter. In mild-winter regions, plant cabbage in autumn or winter for harvest in winter or spring. Cabbage started in mid winter can be grown under a cloche for harvest in early spring.

Succession cropping cabbage. To ensure a constant supply, sow seed and transplants every three or four weeks or sow seed and set transplants at the same time for a successive harvest. Early and midseason cabbage varieties planted at the same time will mature several weeks apart.

Cabbage Planting Site. Cabbage grows best in full sun but will tolerate light shade for part of the day.

Soil for Cabbage. Grow cabbage in rich, well-drained soil. Cabbage will tolerate sandy and clay soils but it is best to add garden compost and well-aged manure to the planting bed. Cabbage prefers a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Lime acidic soil to avoid the fungal disease called clubroot.

Spacing Cabbage. Sow cabbage seed ½ (1cm) inches deep spacing seed 3 inches (8 cm) apart. Thin seedlings at about 4 to 6 weeks when plants are big enough to lift by their true leaves (about 4 inches/10 cm tall with 5-6 leaves). Set seedlings 18 to 24 inches (60 cm) apart in wide beds or blocks. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart. Transplants that are leggy or have crooked stems can be planted up to their first leaves.

Container Growing Cabbage. Cabbage can be grown in containers. A single head of cabbage can be grown in an 8-inch pot. Plant cabbages in larger containers on 12-inch centers.

Watering Cabbage. Cabbage requires consistent soil moisture during the growing season to help prevent heads from splitting. Watering can be reduced as heads near maturity.

Suggested Cabbage Varieties. Green varieties: Stovehead (60 days); Jersey Wakefield (63 days); Golden Acre (65 days); Market Prize (73 days); Green Boy (75 days); Round Up (76 days); Blue Ribbon (76 days); Blue Boy (78 days); Rio Verde (79 days); Badger Ban Head (98 days); flat Dutch (105 days). Savoy varieties: Savoy Ace (80 days); Savoy King (85 days). Red varieties: Red Acre (76 days); Red Ball (70 days); Red Ribbon (78 days); Ruby Perfection (90 days).

More tips How to Grow Cabbage.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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