This cruciferous vegetables list is designed to not only highlight some lesser known varieties but to also remind you of some vegetable garden stalwarts.
All the entries on our cruciferous vegetables list share many of the same health benefits, anti cancer properties and nutritional benefits. They are rich in vitamins A, C and E as well as iron and folic acid, and help you manage your cholesterol levels. Cruciferous vegetables (also known as Brassica vegetables) are also thought to help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
What are Cruciferous Vegetables?
The majority of entries on our cruciferous vegetables list are members of the Cruciferae family. This family mainly consists of the Brassica genus. Most of these plants produce edible flowers or foliage. However, a few produce edible roots.
The name cruciferous refers to the flowers that the plants produce. Producing only four petals the flowers resemble a cross.
These are cool weather vegetables. Gardeners in warmer USDA zones should try growing quick maturing varieties. This helps to prevent bolt.
Many of the entries on our cruciferous vegetables list are susceptible to the same pests and diseases. These include aphids, cabbage maggots, flea beetles and nematodes. If you plan on growing these plants year after year make sure you adopt good growing practices as well as a simple crop rotation system. This helps to keep your soil healthy and prevent many common problems.
On to the full list of cruciferous vegetables:
We begin our cruciferous vegetables list with one of the easiest plants to grow. A leafy green that has a spicy taste, it is better known by its other name, Rocket.
Also known as rocket, arugula is an easy to grow leafy greens. Like other entries on our cruciferous vegetables list, rocket is commonly used in salads as well as stir fries.
Happy to grow in partial shade or full sun, these plants do best in rich soil. You can begin sowing arugula seeds as soon as the last frost date has passed and can continue until late summer for a fall harvest.
This is a quick growing, hardy crop. It is one of many Asian greens that can be successfully grown over the winter months.
Also known as Purple Sprouting Broccoli this is one of the most common winter veg. A popular allotment crop, it usually flowers at the end of the winter, a time when there is little else growing in the garden.
Broccoli is an easy to grow crop. If you want something a little different try the attractive romanesco cultivar.
Gardeners in cooler USDA zones will enjoy more success cultivating quick growing varieties throughout the year. Broccoli is also suitable for container gardening. In fact growing in containers can help to extend the growing season.
Also known as rapini, this is one of the lesser known entries on our cruciferous vegetables list. Despite enjoying many of the same growing conditions as broccoli, rapini is more closely related to mustard greens and turnips.
A cut and come again crop, within 8 weeks of sowing broccoli rabe produces a central bud. From this smaller side shoots will emerge. These are best harvested when they are small, before the buds can go to seed.
The next entry on our cruciferous vegetables list are Brussels Sprouts. These are an integral part of many people’s Christmas dinner. However, Brussels sprouts are also a surprisingly versatile vegetable. As well as boiling they can also be roasted.
Depending on the variety you are growing you will be able to harvest fresh Brussels Sprouts from October onwards. As well as being easy to grow, they are also pleasingly robust and will happily survive frosts and colder periods.
Like other entries on our cruciferous vegetables list these are pleasingly easy to grow. Frost tolerant, it is a staple of the winter garden.
One of the most common entries on our cruciferous vegetables list. Coming in a range of shapes and sizes, the variety on offer means that most gardeners can grow cabbage throughout the year.
While green cabbages are the most commonly grown, red and purple varieties are also available. However, colorful varieties take longer to mature and are less tender than green varieties. With it’s crispy leaves, the Savoy cabbage is one of the most popular and distinctive varieties. They are also considered to be the most sweet and tender variety.
Another easy to grow entry on our list, the wide variety of cabbages has helped to make them a staple of the vegetable garden. The crinkled texture of the savoy cabbage helps the variety to stand out from its counterparts.
The next entry on our cruciferous vegetables list is often sold as broccoli in larger stores and supermarkets. While calabrese and broccoli do look similar, there are a few key differences between the two crops. Calabrese produces thick stalks and large, green heads. In contrast broccoli produces smaller purple or white heads on thin stalks.
Calabrese is best grown in the fall. It is not a frost tolerant crop.
Cauliflower is another garden stalwart that is pleasingly easy to grow, rich in Vitamin C and low in calories. For a little variety try growing purple or green flowering varieties. Unlike the traditional white cauliflower these don’t require blanching.
Planted in rich soil and watered regularly cauliflowers will grow throughout the year.
A pleasingly undemanding crop. Rows of white cauliflower heads are a common sight in vegetable gardens during the fall. Colorful varieties, that don’t require blanching, are also available and just as easy to cultivate.
Similar to the more common broccoli varieties, this is an oriental cultivar with tender stems. The leaves, buds and flowers of this plant are all edible. A quick growing crop, rich in vitamin C, it is also known as kai lan or gailan.
Happiest in sunny positions, this crop is also suitable for container gardens. If you have the space to grow a number of plants allow one or two to flower. The flowers are a great source of nectar for pollinators.
A fast growing plant, it is commonly sold as Chinese leaves. A great late summer crop, these plants do best in fertile soil. Thriving in sunny positions, if you are growing during the summer months they will appreciate a little shade..
There are three main varieties of chinese cabbage: tall cylindrical, loose headed and hearted or barrel shaped. All require the same level of care and attention.
A popular cruciferous veggies crop in southern states, collard greens are a rich source of vitamins including vitamin K, and fibre. Plant successively from late summer onwards for a steady supply throughout the winter months.
A common staple of southern American gardens, this is a cool weather loving crop. Like many other entries on our cruciferous vegetables list it is best grown during the late summer and fall.
Like other members of the cabbage family, heat causes these plants to bolt. If your crop is faced with an unexpected warm spell water regularly and mulch the base of the plants. This helps to keep the soil cool and can prevent or delay bolting.
A popular plant to grow with children. This is a quick growing crop that happily germinates on a damp piece of kitchen roll.
Quick and easy to grow, cress is commonly the first plant grown by young children. However, it is also a great tasting, nutritious plant. For this reason these cruciferous vegetables are increasingly common in vegetable gardens.
A popular way to spice up roast dinners, horseradish is primarily grown for its pungent roots. However, if the plant is left unchecked it can become invasive. Growing in containers solves this problem.
Horseradish does best in sunny positions. Keep the plants well watered during the growing season. Wait until the foliage begins to die away in the fall before harvesting the slender, white roots.
The delicate flowers of the horseradish plant must be allowed to bloom and fade before you can begin to harvest the fresh roots of the plant.
Also known as leaf cabbage this is another reliable winter crop. It is also one of the most frost tolerant entries on our cruciferous vegetables list. It’s leaves are best cut and used when they are young and fresh. Cook with olive oil for enhanced taste. Older foliage can develop a bitter taste.
Favoring partial shade positions it is also largely pest resistant. However, you will need to protect it from birds. Solutions such as the Dalen Bird-X net protect your plants while still allowing them plenty of light, air and water.
A bright, colorful plant, Kale is an increasingly popular winter crop. It’s leaves are best cut and used fresh. Older foliage can be bitter.
An odd looking plant, kohlrabi is popular for its pleasant aroma and nutty flavor. Kohlrabi is more drought resistant than other brassicas such as turnips.
One of the most unusual looking brassicas on our cruciferous vegetables list. Kohlrabi is also known as German turnip. It can be shredded and eaten raw or cooked.
Not just a winter crop, green varieties can be sown in mid-spring for a summer harvest. Purple kohlrabi varieties are hardier. These can be sown from the middle of summer onwards for a fall or winter harvest.
An oriental leafy green, komatsuna is sometimes referred to as Japanese mustard spinach. A hardy plant it thrives in nitrogen rich soil.
Komatsuna can be grown all year round in most climates. However, like many of the entries on our cruciferous vegetables list, warm weather will cause the plant to bolt.
Like many of the crops suggested here, this is an easy to grow plant. However you may need to amend your soil before planting. Komatsuna thrive in nitrogen heavy soil. If your soil is deficient the plants may struggle.
Another oriental entry on our cruciferous vegetables list. This leafy vegetable produces fine leaves that gather to form a large head. While often grown for the seedlings as a cut and come again crop, successional sowing provides you with a regular supply of larger leaves.
These plants are tolerant of cool weather and damp conditions. Best planted in well draining soil, mizuna likes open, sunny positions.
With a little care you can grow from early spring until late fall. However, mizuna struggles in extreme heat so will appreciate some summer shade.
Another entry on our cruciferous vegetables list that is easy to grow. Like cress, growing mustard is a great way to introduce children to gardening.
Mustard seeds are best sown straight into their final position, this can be a well tended bed or a freshly prepared container. Water regularly, especially during warm periods.
Mustard plants can be harvested for their foliage. Alternatively allow the plants to set flowers. As the flowers fade, seed pods will emerge. These can be picked, when ripe, and harvested for a supply of fresh mustard seeds.
Allowing mustard plants to set flowers will attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. Once the flowers are spent, the pods can be harvested for their mustard seeds.
Pak Choi, or Bok Choy, is possibly one of the trickiest entries on our cruciferous vegetables list to successfully cultivate.
Pak Choi is very sensitive to warm weather, which can cause them to bolt and set seed. For this reason it is commonly sown in late summer for a fall harvest.
Pak Choi can be a difficult crop to grow. Mulching the base and regularly watering will help to keep plants cool and prevent bolt during warm spells.
Successional sowing from spring onwards allows you to enjoy a steady supply throughout the summer months. Winter varieties can be sown from July onwards.
Keep the soil consistently moist. This helps to keep the roots fleshy and prevents splitting.
Despite their diminutive size, radishes are a pleasingly easy crop to grow. In favourable climates you can grow them from early spring until late winter.
An undemanding crop, Tatsoi is another Asian green vegetable that makes our list. A non-heading mustard it produces distinctive, flat rosettes and long, spoon-shaped foliage.
Happiest in partial sun, if you are growing in bright positions, or warmer climates, water regularly to prevent bolting. Alternatively, varieties such as Joi Choi are bolt resistant. For something really unusual the cultivar Black Summer produces very dark green leaves.
Swedes and Turnips
Both of these crops are best sown directly into their final position. Similar in appearance, turnips are smaller than swedes. They also tend to have a whiter flesh and be smaller and rounder than swedes.Turnips are best harvested when they are slightly bigger than a golf ball.
Often grouped together swedes are larger than turnips. Two surprisingly similar plants, like many of the other crops suggested here they enjoy many of the same growing conditions.
Swedes, also known as rutabagas, are larger than turnips. Their flesh is often a yellow or orange color.
Both swedes and turnips are reliable cool weather crops. They are also very hardy plants, meaning they will withstand frosts and cold spells.
Remember, the larger the variety the more space the crop will need. Properly spacing the plants prevents them from becoming stunted or deformed. If space is at a premium, try sowing or transplanting seedlings as other crops are harvested. This means that any gaps in your vegetable beds are plugged by your swede or turnip plants
Also known as Japanese horseradish, wasabi is the final entry on our cruciferous vegetables list.
A difficult crop to cultivate, wasabi can take up to two years to mature. If not grown in ideal conditions wasabi is susceptible to disease. Wasabi’s specific requirements means that it is often grown undercover, usually in temperature controlled greenhouses.
Wasabi is one of the most difficult on our cruciferous vegetables list to grow. Many growers cultivate this crop undercover, where they can better control the climatic conditions.
As you can see from our cruciferous vegetables list these crops are largely easy to grow and harvest. The majority all prefer similar growing conditions. Namely cooler temperatures, regular watering and rich soil. This has helped to make them an ideal fall and winter crop. Rich in vitamins, cancer fighting compounds and nutrients it is easy to see why they are a staple of the vegetable garden.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.