Broccoli is a well-known vegetable crop that prefers to grow in cooler weather over hot temperatures, and you can plant one or more types of broccoli In your garden through the spring and autumn months. Depending on your location and climate, it’s even possible to grow types of broccoli in the winter months.
Broccoli has many different cultivars available, and some are fantastic quick-growing crops to have in your garden as they’re ready to harvest within two months. Others take more time to produce, and you’ll grow them during the midsummer months. No matter which types of broccoli you plan on growing, we have 23 different types for you to consider for your vegetable garden below.
A lot of people don’t realize that there are many types of broccoli available, but you can find a cultivar for every planting zone.
Amadeus is a type of broccoli that matures in under 60 days, and it’s more compact than other early-growing cultivars while developing heads with tight florets. The florets have beads that are smaller, and the whole head is roughly five inches in diameter. When it’s fully mature, it takes on a blue-green coloring. Since it grows so quickly, it’s a fantastic choice for early spring sowing. Once you harvest the central heads on this type of broccoli, it’ll produce side shoots to help extend your harvest. You can grow it in summer and fall without an issue.
If you’re after sprouting broccoli, this one will develop in 60 to 90 days. This is a hybrid type of broccoli that is a cross between Chinese kale and broccoli. This gives you a tender, tasty plant with stems that mimic sprouting broccoli. You need to make a point to put extra space between the plants to allow them to grow. For Apollo broccoli to thrive and produce a large harvest, you’ll need to make sure you add a lot of compost to the soil as it needs heavier soil. It also prefers that the soil be more alkaline. You can add lime to increase your dirt’s acid level. It also prefers a well-draining soil with full sun.
This type of broccoli will take longer to mature than other early growing broccoli cultivars, and it takes between 63 and 68 days to develop. It takes longer to grow because it does best in cooler temperatures when the soil moisture is higher. This is a great pick if you want a plant that is cold tolerant for winter and fall production. It’s vigorous, rugged broccoli that is a bigger plant.
It will develop firm, large, dark green heads with a unique frosted look that makes it stand out in your garden when you compare it to other types of broccoli. The heads measure between six and eight inches at full maturity. When you harvest the heads, you want to leave the plant in place because it has great side shoot production. If you like to eat raw broccoli, this is a cultivar to plant because the crows store well in the refrigerator and have a nice crunch.
If you’ve ever added broccoli to your cruciferous vegetable garden, you’ve most likely seen this type of broccoli offered. It’s a hybrid cultivar that thrives as a winter crop in the south, and you can grow it in both fall and spring. At full maturity, Belstar will produce six-inch heads that have a greenish-blue coloring, and it takes between 60 and 65 days to reach full maturity. It’s also a heat-tolerant plant, and this makes it a great choice for people who live in hotter climates. It has a reputation for producing side shoots after you harvest the main head, so you don’t want to strip out the entire plant right away.
5. Blue Wind
Blue Wind was one of the earliest types of broccoli on the market, and it develops a tight, full head in just 60 days. After you harvest the main head on the plant, it will produce edible side shoots if you leave the plant in the ground, and this extends your harvest potential. As you may expect from the name, you’ll see greenish-blue leaves near the top of your plant that look very close to kale. You want to make sure you plant it in full sunlight and space each plant 18 to 24 inches apart. This variety works well for braising or steaming, and it has a mild, sweet taste that is very tender. The best flavor comes out when you cook it.
As the name suggests, you’ll get a pretty blue-green hue with this type of broccoli.
6. Broccoli Rabe
Here is a different type of broccoli you can try that grows very fast compared to other cultivars. Instead of developing a more traditional, tightly compact, domed head, this one produces spiky, small broccoli florets that you can cut and harvest. You’ll get a large amount of broccoli per plant at the end of the growing season.
Calabrese is an Italian heirloom type of broccoli that grows best in planting zones 3 to 10. Even though this plant originates in Calabria in Italy, and this is a region found in southern Italy, it grows well in almost every state in the US. If you go to the grocery store and look at broccoli, you will most likely spot this variety. It produces large to medium heads in a deep green color, and it takes 65 days to mature. The central head produces tight florets, and they can look like little trees. After you harvest the main head, you want to keep the plant in the ground as it’ll produce more side shoots.
8. Chinese Broccoli
As the name tells you, this type of broccoli originally came from China. You can hear it referred to by a range of different names, including gai lan, Chinese kale, and kailaan. This plant produces very thick stems and larger deep green leaves, and it has a slightly bitter taste to it. However, soaking it in cold water before you cook it can take some of the bitterness out.
It has a shorter growing time at 35 to 50 days, and this makes it a great option to plant in the spring or summer to get a harvest early in the fall. In moderate climates, you can plant it to get year-round harvests. You can stir fry this type of broccoli with your favorite sauce to get folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K.
This hybrid type of broccoli can tolerate the heat very well, so it grows best in zones 7 to 11. Most broccoli types can’t tolerate the heat in these areas, especially in zone 11 as they are cool-weather crops. So, this makes Destiny a great choice to plant in southern gardens who want home-grown broccoli. It produces small or medium-sized heads that have a slightly purple hue to them. The plant takes between 70 and 75 days to mature.
This is another Italian heirloom type of broccoli that grows in zones 3 to 10. It will produce medium-sized heads that are greenish-blue in color. You’ll notice that this broccoli type comes with a lack of uniformity as they grow, so they will grow at different rates. This may not work well for a commercial farmer, but it’s a nice trait for the home gardener to have. It develops mature heads in as little as 50 days. Once you harvest the main head, you can find plenty of shoots growing as well.
If you have problems with downy mildew in your home, this is a fantastic type of broccoli to grow. It does very well in the Northwest and Northeast in planting zones three to eight. It’s not great for trying to grow in hotter areas as it likes moderately warm temperatures in the summer. It tends to develop medium-large, uniform heads with smaller flowers. The heads have a very dark green color with buds that are packed tightly together and very dense. It works well for crown cuts or bunches, and you can expect a harvest within 68 days with heads that are four to six inches in diameter.
The densely packed florets on this broccoli type allow you to make precise cuts as you prepare it to cut down your prep time.
13. Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli
If you’re after a stunning purple type of broccoli, you can’t go wrong when you plant Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It’s a heirloom variety that is very cold-hardy, and it will give you dozens of purple, small florets instead of one big head. One of the best points to growing this broccoli plant is that it has a broad growing range that starts at zone 2 and goes to zone 11.
Depending on your location, you could get three harvest periods a year, including in early spring, midsummer, and early fall. You can also overwinter this type of broccoli and have it show up in the spring, depending on your climate. When you cook it, the purple florets will turn white. You’ll have to serve it raw if you want to show off the darker purple coloring.
14. Eastern Magic
For any gardener in the northern, colder regions in Canada and the United States, finding the best type of broccoli to grow can be difficult. Eastern Magic may be the perfect choice for your needs as it handles growth early in the spring and fall, and it has a delicious flavor with greenish-blue crowns. Despite the fact that it’s cold-tolerant, it also handles heat very well so you can extend your growing season into the summer months. You may be able to grow a few harvests, depending on your location, as it is ready to harvest in just 60 days.
Fiesta is a hybrid type of broccoli that is ready to go in 75 days, and it’s a great pick for summer and fall harvests because it’s not a heat-tolerant plant. You can sow the seeds in later summer to get a late fall or early winter harvest. This is a very nutritious, tasty variety that has domed, greenish-blue heads. They grow on compact, medium plants, and the heads measure between six and seven inches in diameter. You want to plant it in full sun, and it doesn’t produce as many shoots as other types.
16. Green Magic
This type of broccoli prefers hot weather, so it’s the opposite of Eastern Magic. It likes to grow best in zones three to nine, and it was originally cultivated to tolerate the what comes with living in southern states in the US. It develops domed, smooth, medium-sized heads at full maturity. The heads tend to develop a greenish-blue coloring with a very unique butter flavor. It takes 60 days to mature from planting.
If you live in Northern California or the Pacific Northwest, this type of broccoli grows very well. It’s great for winter or fall production in these areas. This variety is very cold-hardy, and it works well for over-winter production. You can grow it in other regions for a fall or later summer crop as it takes roughly 68 days to be ready to harvest. If produces small flowers with a higher dome as it matures.
This is another Italian heirloom type of broccoli that develops asparagus-like, flavorful leaves and side shoots. It grows well in late fall or early spring when other garden crops are less productive. Also, rapini is related to both turnips and mustard greens. You can expect it to develop a central bud within eight weeks of planting it. It’s a great choice to put in fresh salads, and you can harvest it within six to eight weeks. You want to cut the stems below the heads and take clusters of leaves each time you harvest it.
This type of broccoli has been around for decades, and it has a very nice flavor profile that works well cooked or raw.
There isn’t a single type of broccoli that is more unique than this one. It’s an ancient heirloom variety from Italy that produces spiral, pointed, chartreuse florets. You won’t get the classic green coloring here. It grows best in zones 3 to 10, but it will bolt when you expose it to higher temperatures. For anyone who lives in southern areas, you want to grow this broccoli through the fall, winter, and early spring months to avoid the higher summer temperatures. Unlike cultivars on the list, this one has a great texture with a slightly nutty flavor.
20. Spigariello Liscia
Sometimes, you can hear this plant referred to as Italian leaf broccoli, and it’s a popular type of broccoli to grow in southern Italy. It’s an open-pollinated broccoli type that tastes like a mixture of traditional broccoli and kale. You can harvest it between 21 and 45 days after you plant it. You’ll harvest single leaves, so you can quickly cut what you need and come back to harvest it again. It’s not your traditional type of broccoli, but the leaves work well in specialty markets.
21. Sun King
Burpee exclusively developed this type of broccoli, and it was bred specifically to survive higher temperatures in summer gardens. You can grow this broccoli type in zones 1 to 11, and this is everything from Alaska down to southern Florida. It produces greenish-blue colored heads that get between six and eight inches in diameter, and they’re ready to harvest after 70 days. After you harvest the main head, you want to keep the plant in the ground to harvest the side shoots later.
Quarantina is a more unique broccoli rabe as it produces pepper leaves that are great to add to salads for eating raw. It’s a non-heading type of broccoli that has a very strong taste to it. It takes 40 days from planting to reach the harvest stage, and you can harvest the leaves, young stems, and all of the flower buds. You can stir-fry, steam, or add it to salads fresh. It does much better when you plant it as a fall crop as the colder nights and the warmer daytime temperatures work perfect for growth. It will get between 8 and 10 inches tall.
23. Waltham 29
Finally, this is one of the best-known types of broccoli available, and Thomas Jefferson grew and ate this heirloom type. It will tolerate cold temperatures very well, and it’ll produce greenish-blue heads with a lot of side shoots. It grows best in zones 3 to 10, and it matures in 85 days after you plant it. The heads don’t have a strong uniformity to them, and they’ll keep growing throughout the season.
How to Use Various Types of Broccoli
You can eat different types of broccoli raw, but blanching it using boiling water gives it a more tender-crisp texture that brings out the flavor. You can steam, sautee, and roast it too, as long as you prep it correctly.
Trimming and Preparing Broccoli
The nice thing about this vegetable is that the whole thing is pretty much edible, so with a little prep, you won’t waste any of it. Most people choose to focus on the flowers of this plant for good reason, as they have a nice texture and absorb sauces like small sponges. Sadly, this means that many people tend to toss out the stalks, which are very crunchy and flavorful.
It’s essential that you trim and peel your broccoli when you cook it to get the best taste and texture possible.
Peel the Stalk
The stalk usually is covered with a pithy, thick layer. All you have to do is get a paring knife or vegetable peeler and remove this tough outer layer. Keep in mind that this layer on the stalk gets more tender and thinner as you get closer to the flowers, so you can stop shaving this layer halfway up the stalk.
Trim the Florets
You can cut the broccoli from top to bottom to create spears once you finish peeling the stalk. You can also remove the stalk and use it in another dish to make your head of broccoli last two meals. Once you remove the stem, you want to move the broccoli upside down to rest on the crown and slice downwards through the florets.
When you blanch broccoli, you’ll cook it for a short amount of time. This is a great technique to give you crisp broccoli for an appetizer or salad if you don’t want it totally raw. It will give the broccoli a much more vibrant, deeper green coloring, and this is great for adding color to a dish. Giving your broccoli a quick hot bath before you saute or roast it is also a nice way to cut back on the cooking times.
To blanch your broccoli, you should start them if you’re going to boil them, but you’ll need a bowl of ice water close by. You’ll want to boil your type of broccoli for 30 minutes to a minute before quickly draining them and transferring them to the ice water where they can chill until you’re ready to use them.
Boiling broccoli is one of the most popular ways to prepare it, and many people have most likely had boiled broccoli at least once in their lives. Boiling broccoli will help it maintain the pure, clean flavor, and this is also the healthiest way to prepare it. However, it can also enhance the more bitter flavors of the vegetable, so it’s not a good choice for people who are trying to learn to like it. To boil broccoli and get the best results, you:
- Get a pot of water and bring it to a boil before adding a generous pinch of salt. You can always season your broccoli to taste late, but adding a little salt to the water can enhance the flavor.
- In the meantime, prepare the broccoli. You can cut it up into one-inch florets or leave them with the stalks attached for spears.
- Once your water boils, you’ll reduce the heat to medium-high and add the broccoli pieces to the pot.
- Boil for five minutes and test one of your broccoli pieces to see if it’s cooked enough. You can safely eat broccoli anywhere from baby food soft to raw.
- Drain and serve right away.
- If you want to serve it later, immediately dunk it into a bowl of ice water. This is called shocking your broccoli, and it’ll stop the cooking process to prevent mushy broccoli.
Boiling broccoli is one of the easiest ways to cook it, and you can stop it at any time once it reaches the tenderness level you want.
Roasting broccoli is one of the most hands-off ways to cook any type of broccoli. It reduces how many dishes you use and it can free up space to cook other dishes or give you time to relax before dinner is ready. Roasting also brings out the best broccoli flavors, and blanching it before you roast it helps to reduce the cooking time. You roast broccoli by:
- Preheat your oven to 400-degrees F.
- Take out a baking dish, and this can be a foil-lined sheet pan or parchment paper to give you a crispier end result, or a casserole dish if you want juicer spears. The deeper the dish is, the more moisture will stay in your type of broccoli, so keep this in mind.
- Get a bowl and toss your broccoli with a drizzle of melted butter or oil before adding a pinch of salt and any seasonings you like before tossing them evenly to coat.
- Transfer the broccoli to the baking dish of your choice and spread it out to an even layer. Slide it into the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Open the oven and stir them lightly before baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until they’re tender.
Steamed broccoli keeps the bright green coloring with the tender crunch. It’s a very delicate cooking method that will enhance how the broccoli tastes without adding any extra oil. This method is great for people who don’t have any speciality equipment, and you steam your broccoli by:
- Fill the skillet with ½ inch of water and bring it to a boil. Make sure you don’t use more water than this otherwise you’ll get boiled broccoli instead of steamed, and it can quickly get soggy.
- Add the broccoli and cover it with the lid.
- Cook until your broccoli reaches your desired tenderness level, usually between three and five minutes. Test the broccoli with a fork to check for doneness, and the tines should easily sink into the stems. However, it shouldn’t have a brown hue or be limp. If it is, you cooked it too long.
- Drain and season with salt and pepper.
You now know 23 different types of broccoli and a few ways to prepare them. You can add a few types to your garden and enjoy fresh, crisp broccoli in your meals throughout the spring, summer, and winter seasons.
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.