Methods to develop napa cabbage in your beds

Napa cabbage is an excellent spring vegetable for gardeners because it is easy to grow and offers a large harvest of heads. It grows similarly to other plants in the Brassica family and will be familiar to gardeners who previously grew bok choy. If you're interested in learning how to grow Napa cabbage in your yard this spring, we can help!

This type of cabbage is widely used in Asian cuisine, especially in kimchi and stir-fries. It's a great vegetable to grow in the spring or fall as it prefers cooler weather. If you've never tried this variety of cabbage, add it to your garden plan this year!

Good Products on Amazon for Growing Napa Cabbage:

Brief instructions for care

Do you love good pan-fried dishes? Learn How To Grow Napa Cabbage! Source: Seacoast Eat Local

Common name (s) Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage
Scientific name Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
Days to harvest 50-90 days, depending on the variety
light Full sun to partial shade, about 5 hours of sunlight daily
water 1 inch per week
ground Rich clay soil, well-drained, with a pH value between 6.5 to 7 tons
fertilizer Compost or composted manure and nitrogen-rich organic fertilizers
Pests Cabbage grippers, cabbage worms, flea beetles, root maggots
Diseases Leaf spot disease, downy mildew, powdery mildew, black rot, clubroot

Everything about Napa Kohl

6 week old Napa cabbageA six week old Napa cabbage has formed in front of the head. Source: Farmer Mark

Napa cabbage or Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis, is a member of the Brassica family that is grown for its green leaves. It has an elongated body with a dense bundle head. The flowers are yellow but won't appear unless you let them germinate and sow.

Napa cabbage grows best before temperatures start to rise in early summer or when they cool off in fall. It tastes similar to romaine lettuce and differs from other types of cabbage because the head is tender and wilts quickly. Napa cabbage has a sweeter taste than traditional kale like pak choi. If used in salads, it should be served immediately. However, its most popular use is in stir-fries, kimchi, and dumplings.

Napa cabbage is originally from Beijing, China, but spread to Japan and Korea where it is still popular. The name Napa comes from the Japanese language, as the word "nappa" means the leaves of a vegetable that is used as food. Napa cabbage is also called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage in some parts of the world.

Planting Chinese cabbage

Napa cabbage seedlingsEach of these seedlings will produce a head of Napa cabbage. Source: Suzie's Farm

Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring or fall frost date and plant the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep. When transplanting seedlings outdoors, be careful not to disturb the roots. Allow 12 to 18 inches of space between plants in rows that are at least 18 inches apart. You can sow seeds directly into the ground up to six inches apart in spring and thin out as they grow. It is also possible to grow in a large container.


Part of learning how to grow Chinese cabbage is learning how to care for the plant on a daily basis throughout its annual life cycle. Let's talk about how to care for Chinese cabbage in your garden.

Sun and temperature

Chinese cabbage prefers full sun or partial shade with 4-5 hours of sunlight per day. It grows best in zones 4 through 7, but can be grown in zones 8-9 during the cool spring and fall seasons. The heads form in cool temperatures above 45 degrees but below 75 degrees, and they respond to the decreasing length of the day and the cool autumn temperatures. If you start your sowing well before the last frost date, you can also successfully transplant seedlings in the weeks leading up to summer.

Chinese cabbage will sprout and rot if it is constantly exposed to temperatures above 75 degrees. To prevent this bolting process, opt for growing in the cool season. If you start outdoors before the last frost date is up, add a floating row cover over young seedlings to protect them from temperatures below 45 degrees.

Water and moisture

Thick midrib on Napa cabbageThe thick midrib of each leaf holds it upright and carries water to the leaves. Source: Stacy Spensley

It's best to water your plants early in the morning, but if you're unable, the next best time is the evening. Chinese cabbage likes 1 inch of water per week, and consistent watering will keep the plant from germinating during periods of drought.

Watering can be done in a variety of ways, from soaking tubes to clay olla pots. You can also give water out of your hand. Always keep the plants well watered so that they grow evenly. Since napa cabbage needs even moisture, you can even consider drip irrigation with a timer.


Chinese cabbage prefers a nice rich and loamy soil. It should also be well drained so that the roots don't stand in stagnant water. Napa cabbage does not prefer tightly packed clay soils or sandy soils. When planting, consider adding compost or compost fertilizer. If possible, change the soil a few weeks before planting and then again when you plant or transplant the cabbage to keep the soil rich and nutritious. The best pH range for growth is between 6.0 and 7.0.


If you grow Chinese cabbage, you should fertilize it regularly. Plan to change your soil before planting and again at planting time. You should also regularly apply fertilizers or rich organic substances in the off-season. Top dressing plants with compost or manure encourage continuous growth.

For liquid fertilizers, Napa cabbage likes fish emulsion because it is a nitrogen-hungry plant. It also likes dry sources of nitrogen like alfalfa meal, fish meal, chicken manure, or blood meal. Don't leave out phosphorus or potassium entirely, though – phosphorus is especially beneficial for a healthy root system and potassium helps with the overall health of the plant. A slow release organic granular fertilizer can work provided you add a little more nitrogen using one of the other methods mentioned above.


You don't need to prune the napa cabbage as it grows, but you may want to peel off the tough outer leaves as you harvest. Do not let it bloom as this means it will turn into seeds and the energy of the plant will enter the flower stalk and the leaves will become hard and bitter.


Napa cabbage is propagated mainly from seeds. This is generally the recommended method as it will give you a healthier plant.

However, people have had success getting the root end of a Napa cabbage to develop new roots after it's harvested. Let small amounts of the leaf hang from the root end and place in a shallow bowl of water. Change the water daily. Within a few days the roots should begin to form and maybe even a few more cabbage leaves will grow from the base of the new plant

Harvest and storage

Cross cut Napa cabbageThis cross-cut cabbage reveals how the leaves are formed. Source: pinprick

Now that you know how to plant, grow, and care for your Napa cabbage plant, let's talk about how to harvest it when it is ripe. There are also plenty of ways to store your harvest so you can enjoy it for a long time!


Napa cabbage is ready to be harvested when the head is firm to the touch and about 12 inches tall. Some varieties are only 6 inches short while others are up to 20 inches tall! When you squeeze the heads together, they should be firm. Harvest each head by cutting it off at ground level and leaving the roots in the ground. You may also want to peel off several outer layers of green leaves to reveal the precious white and pale yellow leaves underneath.

If grown for seed collection, place a small paper bag over the seed pods in late summer. Secure it to the stem with string and let the flower stem dry before cutting. Once the seed pods are completely dry, you can break them to reveal the tiny seeds inside.


You can keep Napa cabbages in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks. You can also blanch the heads and freeze them for up to four months. If you are storing a head of Chinese cabbage in the refrigerator, do not wash the heads before storing.

Napa cabbage can also be dehydrated or freeze-dried, but it is less palatable if rehydrated later. If you dry it, use it in soups or stews where its change in texture is not noticeable.


Napa cabbage flowersNapa cabbage flowers are bright yellow and cheerful. Source: osanpo

Now let's examine some of the problems you might have when growing Napa cabbage.

Growing problems

If your Seeds don't sproutMake sure they are planted less than ½ inch deep. A good rule of thumb is to sow seeds about twice the width of the seed. Since cabbage seeds are quite thin and small, ¼ inch could be a better depth to speed germination.

In hot and dry weather, the Napa cabbage becomes Bolt and go to the seed fast. This means that the plant invests its energy in producing seeds, and the leaves become bitter and undesirable to eat. To prevent lapping, keep the cabbage well watered and start it at a convenient time in the spring in your area to avoid hot weather. Try to plant in reverse so you can harvest before the first frost. Chinese cabbage prefers cool and mild weather.

If your cabbage struggles to form minds, this can be caused by lack of water. Water your plants regularly and consistently to get good head development. You should also make sure that you are growing in nutrient-rich soil and supplementing it with rich organic material so that your plants will have even growth throughout the growing season, resulting in larger and firmer heads. Applying a nitrogen fertilizer can also help with foliage growth.


Napa cabbage suffers from the same pest pressure as other members of the cabbage family.

Flea beetle chew holes in leaves, especially young seedlings. Use floating row covers to protect young plants. Diatomaceous earth or neem oil can control these to some extent. If these don't work, you may need to use a stronger organic option like spinosad or pyrethrin.

Cabbage worms and Cabbage grapple begin their life as small caterpillars that eat leaves. Begin treatment with milder biological methods, such as scraping the eggs or removing the caterpillars by hand. If you still find green moth larvae climbing around on your plants, use a Bacillus thuringiensis spray for treatment.

You can prevent Cabbage root maggots by keeping your garden clean and free of dirt. This ensures that the maggots no longer have a habitat. Cover young plants with floating row covers and mulch at the base of mature plants to prevent the flies from laying their eggs in the ground. If there is a severe outbreak of root maggots, soil soaking through pyrethrin can reduce their population.


Chinese cabbage can be prone to leaf spots, clubroot, and black rot.

Leaf spot is usually treatable with organic options like liquid copper fungicide or biofungicides.

When dealing with Club root or Black rotBoth of which come from mushrooms, make sure they don't overwater and that excess water drains freely from the soil. For plants suffering from clubroot or black rot, the root should be completely removed and discarded once you have harvested your cabbage. You should also practice good crop rotation by never planting napa cabbage in the same spot where you recently planted other brassicas.

Check Mildew mild, be sure to water early in the morning so the sun can dry the leaves of the plant during the day. Watering the foliage late into the night can encourage powdery mildew to grow as temperatures are cooler and plants can stay wet all night. A better option would be to water the base of the plant with a soaking tube to keep the foliage dry.

Wrong mildew is another common problem but can be prevented with regular use of neem oil, as can powdery mildew. When a severe outbreak of powdery mildew sets in, use a liquid copper fungicide to treat the plants.

frequently asked Questions

Napa Kohl is growingA dense cluster of Napa cabbage grows. Source: anselor

Q: Can you regrow napa cabbage?

Answer: yes! When you put the head of cabbage in a shallow bowl of water. You may be able to regrow some of the leaves, but you are more likely to form new roots.

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

A: It takes about 50 to 80 days.

Q: Does Chinese cabbage grow back after being cut?

On a. Once you cut the head off at ground level, the plant will no longer grow back.

The green fingers behind this article:

Leave a comment