How to Grow Broccoli Rabe – A Beginner’s Guide

broccoli rabe plant growing in garden
Broccoli rabe, which are known botanically as Brassica rapa subsp. rapini, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing broccoli rabe as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Broccoli Rabe

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the broccoli rabe seeds directly outdoors in early spring or fall. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when broccoli rabe are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Broccoli Rabe the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing broccoli rabe in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your broccoli rabe grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained and fertile. Soil PH levels should be around 6.0 to 7.0.

1″ apart in rows 12″ apart. 2″ apart in rows 18″ apart. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 8-10″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your broccoli rabe seedlings 12-18″ apart when seedlings are 2-3″ tall.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Broccoli Rabe

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your broccoli rabe. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your broccoli rabe should be getting full sun

How Much to Water Broccoli Rabe

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your broccoli rabe do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your broccoli rabe begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Broccoli Rabe to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your broccoli rabe grow.

It takes approximately 4-7 days to germinate, and a total of 40-60 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Broccoli Rabe

The best time to harvest your broccoli rabe is when the florets are just beginning to form and are still tight.

Broccoli rabe can grow up to about 12-24″ tall.

What Can Broccoli Rabe Be Used For?

Food Use: great for sautéed greens, pasta dishes, and soups.

Flavor Profile: slightly bitter and nutty.

Can Broccoli Rabe Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you can plant 1 plant per 12″ container. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your broccoli rabe around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Broccoli Rabe Safe for Bees?

Yes, broccoli rabe are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing broccoli rabe is bee-friendly.

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