Rising Chinese language Broccoli: Scrumptious Gai Lan

The beginning of spring is always a joyful time! With a few months of cool temperatures on the horizon, you want to think about what to harvest that will grow well without the usual summer heat. Chinese broccoli is a great addition to your garden and table! Growing Chinese broccoli is a delicious and versatile Brassica, and a quick and easy option. With a growth time of only 4-7 weeks, you can harvest in no time!

This traditional vegetable, a broccoli that has been used in Chinese cuisine for thousands of years, is now easy to find and grow in the US when seeds are bought online or at nurseries. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, this little plant packs a punch.

A bit like bok choy, a bit like broccoli, it straddles the fence between bitter green and sweet. It is often mistaken for bok choy in a Chinese dish, but the texture is a little less juicy-crispy and more like traditional broccoli. It can be cut and added to stir-fry dishes or cooked whole in oyster sauce. As one of the earliest crops to be cultivated by humans, humans have been fermenting this vegetable for millennia to preserve it from cooling.

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Brief instructions for care

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Common Name (s) Gai Lan, Kai Lan, Chinese Kale, Chinese Broccoli
Scientific name Brassica oleracea var. Alboglabra
Days to harvest 40-70
light Full sun
Water: 1 inch per week
ground Well draining, rich; sandy to muddy loam
fertilizer Compost; 10-10-10 fertilizer
Pests Cabbage grinders, snails & snails
Diseases Downy mildew, steaming

All about Chinese broccoli

Chinese broccoli in full bloomA slightly wild patch of Chinese kale in full bloom. Source: Taekwonweirdo

Chinese broccoli or Brassica oleracea var.Alboglabra has many names. It was called Chinese kale, gai lan, and kai lan. For all its names, this ancient Chinese vegetable with a beautiful white or yellow flower is guaranteed to please your palate. It's packed with nutrients and fiber, and like other members of the cabbage family, an early harvest with great taste.

Chinese broccoli is a short, leafy vegetable with thick stems and green leaves that grow around a thick main stem. The flat, broad leaves can be 1 to 3 inches in diameter and 3 to 5 inches in length.

It will bring forth a flower early in its life, but that doesn't affect the taste at all! When the flowers appear, it is a sign that it is time to start harvesting.

These plants have a relatively short lifespan. They germinate quickly and reach about a foot tall with fully developed leaves and flowers in 4-7 weeks. Almost all of the above-ground part of the plants is eaten, from stems to leaves and flowers!

Chinese broccoli plant

Chinese kale, a cool season vegetable, can be grown year round, depending on your average daytime temperatures. He prefers temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees. It's a wonderful fall and winter harvest for zone 9 and 10 growers, and a great spring harvest for anyone gardening with fear of a late frost. In a high northern climate or in cool and shady gardens, this crop can do well even in summer.

Check your upcoming climate conditions. When you've forecast chilly temperatures for 5-7 weeks, sow your seeds! You can either sow in trays and plant out once the plants reach about 3 inches in height, or you can sow directly into your modified garden soil. Sow the seeds 1/4 in depth and place in rows 18 to 24 inches spaced 4 to 6 inches apart. Once plants emerge, thin out any seedlings closer than 4 inches apart or grow multiple seedlings in a single spot.

After sowing, be sure to keep the soil or trays evenly moist until they germinate, and keep spraying your plants until they reach a height of 2 inches.

Chinese broccoli grows well in containers and raised beds! Because gardeners have better control of the types of soil present in these growing areas, your plants have a better chance of thriving. If growing in containers, plant 1 plant per 6 inch wide pot or 3 per 1 inch wide pot. The deeper the pot, the healthier the root system becomes.


Gai LanGai Lan, Chinese Kale, and Chinese Broccoli are just a few of the names of this plant. Source: Pockafwye

Chinese broccoli, sometimes known as Chinese kale, doesn't require much maintenance to produce a nice full harvest. You can toss some seeds in the ground and wait for the plants to start blooming to harvest.

Sun and temperature

This plant is a cool season plant and is best for cooler temperatures – think 50-75 degrees. This means that you can grow these vegetables in fall, winter, spring, and summer depending on the zone! It all depends on the average daytime temperatures of the zone you are in.

During the cooler months of the year, you'll want your plants out in the sun 6-8 hours a day to make sure it doesn't get so hot that it starts to screw. Before temperatures steadily reach around 50 degrees per day, you can use a row cover to protect the plants from the cold and encourage faster growth. Don't worry, they can take a frost or two.

Water and moisture

While spring and summer can cause rainstorms, it's best to water your yard every week, especially if the forecast doesn't include rain. To prevent illness, pour water on a drip line until late morning. Your Chinese broccoli needs an inch of water per week, more if you want it to get hot. Also, protect your plants by mulching around the base of the stem. This mulch helps hold water back and can prevent bolting from hot weather.


This early spring crop loves rich soil, good drainage and a pH of 6.0-6.8. Loamy sand to muddy soil is best for this fast-producing Asian vegetable. Work abundant compost or manure into the top 6 inches of the soil before starting any sowing or transplanting. Well-drained organic humus is best for these tender greens. Gai Lan can survive in poor quality soils when compost is incorporated. A heavy feeder, organic compost, or thick mulch can make up for bad dirt.


A fast growing Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, needs a lot of nutrients to grow. Before sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings in your garden, make sure that abundant compost has been worked into the top six inches of your soil. Additionally, apply an even 10-10-10 fertilizer to your vegetable patch at the time of planting.

After the seeds germinate and are 4 weeks old, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer around the base of the stems. Nitrogen helps with leaf development which is key!


Chinese broccoli is such a fast growing plant that it can only be propagated by seeds. This is pretty easy as the seeds have a very high germination rate. You can also grow your own seed by letting the plant complete its life cycle. After it blooms, the flower stalks produce seeds and prepare for the next year!

Harvesting and storing

Cooked Chinese broccoliWhen cooked, Chinese broccoli is a real treat. Source: Jun Seita

Chinese broccoli is a great crop that is cut over and over again. It can be used in stir-fries or fermented in a matter of days to make traditional Chinese vegetable side dishes!


Gai Lan is best harvested when the first few flowers protrude from the center of the stem. Cut the leaves and stems about 8 inches from the top of the plant and leave a few leaves hanging from the stem. This promotes growth! You can only have one more harvest in 1-3 weeks!


Use or refrigerate your leaves immediately after harvesting your Chinese broccoli. These thin plants tend to wither somewhat quickly once the moisture leaves their leaves. To extend shelf life, put your harvest in an unsealed plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator if the humidity is high.

Alternatively, Chinese broccoli can be pickled or fermented for long-term storage to make a traditional vegetable garnish in Chinese cuisine known as fermented mustard greens.


Gai Lan bundleThese beautiful vegetables are available in bundles on Asian markets. Source: World to Table

Growing Chinese broccoli is pretty easy. With a short growing season, it can often be relatively pest and disease free.

Growing problems

Chinese broccoli takes a cool season of the year to thrive. It's easy to plant while it's chilled, but make sure it's harvest time (5-7 weeks later) in the cooler season as well. If not, find your plants Screw. This is a normal part of the Chinese broccoli life cycle. However, you want to avoid rushing the life cycle as it means you won't be able to enjoy your harvest! To avoid this, sow your seeds after checking to make sure there is 5-7 weeks of cool weather to come.


Snails and snails I love the nutritious leaves of these plants and often eat the tender plant parts while avoiding stems. They are more likely to start near the base of a stem and eat outward. To kill, try dropping bait or setting up beer traps to catch those pesky guys!

Alternative, Cabbage grinder love to nibble on the delicious leaves of this plant. Small, chalk-colored caterpillars, these pests blend in with the color of the leaves and can kill young plants or maim older ones before they turn into moths. Try spraying Bacillus thuringiensis when you have a large population. You can easily remove the caterpillar from the leaf with a smaller infestation.


Attenuation off is a serious disease that can affect your Chinese broccoli while it's still a few inches tall. This soil-borne fungal disease causes your trunk to rot and shrink and also attack a plant's root system. Steaming is actually a range of mushrooms and can kill entire shells of seedlings. Once your plants are infected there is no way to cure them. However, it can be prevented through good soil drainage, air circulation and the use of the biological fungicide Mycostop.

Wrong mildew can also attack your Chinese broccoli. This fungus attacks through wounds in the leaves and thrives in cool, humid conditions. It appears as white or brownish spots on the upper parts of the leaf before turning dark brown, killing the leaf and plant. Remove damaged foliage from your plant, although it is difficult to remove. Spray the remainder with either a liquid copper fungicide or a product that uses mono- and di-potassium salts of phosphoric acid.

frequently asked Questions

Chinese broccoli flowersThe white flowers of Gai Lan are actually pretty pretty. Source: Pockafwye

Q: How long does it take to grow Chinese broccoli?

A: Depending on the type of Chinese broccoli grown, it takes 5-8 weeks to harvest.

Q: Where is Chinese broccoli grown?

A: Chinese broccoli is grown all over the world. It grows wherever there are cool periods for 5-7 weeks with full sun in the temperature range of 50-75 degrees.

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