Gai Lan Growing Guide

All you need to know to grow successfully!

Plant Family:
Plant Type:
Perennial Grown as Annual

Square Foot Spacing:

Typical Season:
Cool season
Typical Zones Grown In:
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Growing Difficulty:

Gai lan, also known as Chinese broccoli, is a leafy green vegetable that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It has long, thick stalks with dark green leaves and small flower buds that resemble broccoli. Gai lan has a slightly bitter taste that pairs well with savory sauces and is often stir-fried or steamed. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron. Gai lan is a cool-season crop that is typically grown in the fall and spring. It prefers well-draining soil and regular watering.

Brief Growing Guide

  1. Soil Preparation: Gai lan prefers a fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility.
  2. Planting: Sow gai lan seeds directly into the soil in early spring or late summer. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes 7-10 days.
  3. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season, but avoid overwatering which can cause the plants to rot.
  4. Fertilization: Gai lan benefits from regular fertilization with a balanced organic fertilizer or compost tea every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season.
  5. Pest and Disease Control: Gai lan is generally pest and disease-free, but can sometimes be affected by aphids, flea beetles, or downy mildew. Use organic insecticides or companion planting with beneficial insects to control pests, and avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases.
  6. Harvesting: Harvest gai lan when the flower buds are tight and the stems are about 1/4 inch thick, which usually takes about 60-90 days after planting. Cut the stems about 1 inch below the flower buds with a sharp knife or scissors. Gai lan can be harvested multiple times, but allow some of the stems to grow back before cutting again.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow delicious and nutritious gai lan organically.

Planting Guidelines

The following are general guides to follow. However, nothing is set in stone. Feel free to experiment!

How to Start:
Direct Sow
When to Direct Sow:
April, May, June, July, August, September
When to Start Indoors:
Sprouting Time:

Ideal Temperature (C):

Spacing (cm):
Row Spacing (cm):
Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Maturity Time:
When To Harvest:
June, July, August, September, October, November
How to Harvest:
Harvest stalks with the leaves and flower buds intact by cutting each stalk near its base. This may result in numerous tender side shoots. Always harvest before the flowers open.

Health Benefits

Growing your own food is one of the best things you can do for your health. Let’s check out some of the health benefits!

Is It Edible?
Edible Parts:
Leaves, stalks, flowers
Potential Health Benefits:
Antioxidant, Digestive System, Bone Strength

Tips to Growing Organically

Growing without the use of pesticides and herbicides is easier than you may think and it’s better for the environment!

Companion Plants:
Chamomile, Dill, Mint, Rosemary, Sage
What Plants to Avoid:
Eggplant, Pepper, Potato, Tomato
Common Pests:
Slugs and snails – Slugs are attracted to beer, so place a little beer in a cup dug into the ground. Sprinkle broken eggshells around plants to deter slugs and snails. Flea beetles – Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds. Cabbage root maggot – White maggots (larvae) attack all plants of the cabbage family. Larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants a little later on. Cabbage aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings. Cabbageworms – Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
Common Disease:
To help reduce disease, do not plant broccoli or other Brassicas in the same location more than once every three or four years.
Bonus Grow Tips:
Gai lan is commonly known as Chinese broccoli due to its origin in east Asian cuisine, but it is easy to grow and well suited for all vegetable gardens.

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