How To Plant Cabbage From Seed [ Full Guide ]

Cabbage is a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be grown easily from seeds. Planting cabbage from seed allows you to select from a wide variety of cultivars and ensures that the plants are healthy and disease-free from the beginning. This comprehensive guide will take you through the step-by-step process of planting cabbage from seed, from selecting the right seeds to preparing the soil and sowing the seeds indoors.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Cabbage From Seed

To plant cabbage from seed, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right seeds: Select high-quality cabbage seeds from a reputable supplier.
  2. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining, rich in nutrients, and has a slightly acidic pH.
  3. Sow seeds indoors: Start the seeds indoors in seed trays or pots, ensuring they receive ample light and warmth.
  4. Transplant outdoors: Once the seedlings have grown to a suitable size, transplant them into a well-prepared garden bed with proper spacing.
  5. Care for the plants: Water and fertilize the cabbage plants regularly, and protect them from pests and diseases.
  6. Harvest: Harvest the cabbage heads when they reach the desired size and firmness.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow cabbage from seed and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Getting Started: Tools And Materials

Before you begin planting cabbage from seed, it’s essential to gather the necessary tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need:


  1. Trowel or garden spade
  2. pH testing kit
  3. Watering can or garden hose with a fine spray attachment
  4. Seed trays or pots for starting seeds indoors
  5. Garden rake
  6. Mulch


  1. High-quality cabbage seeds
  2. Well-draining potting mix
  3. Organic compost or well-rotted manure
  4. Organic fertilizer
  5. Garden lime (if soil pH is too acidic)
  6. Neem oil or organic pest control solutions

Having these tools and materials on hand will make the process of planting cabbage from seed much more efficient and successful.

Choosing The Right Seeds

Selecting the right seeds is crucial for a successful cabbage harvest. When choosing cabbage seeds, consider the following factors:

  1. Variety: There are various types of cabbage, such as green, red, savoy, and napa. Choose a variety that suits your taste preferences and climate.

  2. Quality: Purchase seeds from a reputable supplier to ensure they are of high quality and free from disease.

  3. Open-Pollinated vs. Hybrid: Open-pollinated seeds produce plants with characteristics similar to the parent plant, while hybrid seeds result from the cross-pollination of two different varieties, often exhibiting specific traits. Decide whether you prefer open-pollinated or hybrid seeds based on your gardening goals.

  4. Adaptability: Consider the adaptability of the cabbage variety to your local climate and growing conditions. Some varieties are more heat-tolerant, while others are better suited to cooler climates.

  5. Seed Starting Date: Check the recommended seed starting date for your specific location and climate. This information will help you determine the ideal time to start sowing cabbage seeds for a successful harvest.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the most suitable cabbage seeds for your garden and ensure a successful growing season.

Preparing The Soil

Cabbage thrives in well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients and has a slightly acidic pH. Here’s how to prepare the soil for planting cabbage from seed:

  1. Test the Soil pH: Use a pH testing kit to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Cabbage prefers a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8. If the soil pH is too low (acidic), add garden lime to raise it to the desired level.

  2. Improve Soil Structure: Work organic compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its structure and fertility. This will provide essential nutrients for the cabbage plants as they grow.

  3. Ensure Good Drainage: Ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues. If the soil is heavy and poorly draining, consider adding organic matter to improve its texture.

  4. Remove Weeds and Debris: Clear the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris that could impede the growth of the cabbage plants.

By preparing the soil properly, you create an ideal growing environment for cabbage plants, setting the stage for healthy growth and successful harvests.

Sowing Seeds Indoors

Starting cabbage seeds indoors gives the plants a head start and allows you to control the growing conditions. Follow these steps to sow cabbage seeds indoors:

Step 1: Select Seed Trays Or Pots

Choose seed trays or small pots with drainage holes to start the cabbage seeds. Ensure that the containers are clean and have been sterilized to prevent the growth of mold and diseases.

Step 2: Fill Containers With Potting Mix

Fill the seed trays or pots with a well-draining potting mix, leaving a half-inch space from the rim to allow for watering without spillage.

Step 3: Sow The Seeds

Place 2-3 cabbage seeds in each container, pressing them gently into the soil. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix. Keep in mind that not all seeds may germinate, so planting multiple seeds increases the likelihood of successful germination.

Step 4: Provide Adequate Light And Warmth

Place the containers in a warm, well-lit area, such as a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Cabbage seeds require temperatures of around 70°F (21°C) for optimal germination, so consider using a heat mat to maintain consistent warmth.

Step 5: Keep The Soil Moist

Water the containers gently to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Using a fine spray attachment on a watering can or hose will prevent the seeds from being displaced or washed away.

Step 6: Monitor Germination

Cabbage seeds typically germinate within 7-10 days. Keep a close eye on the containers, and once the seedlings emerge, ensure they receive adequate light to prevent them from becoming leggy.

Step 7: Thin The Seedlings

After the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, thin them to leave the strongest seedling in each container. Use scissors to snip off the weaker seedlings at soil level, rather than pulling them out, to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining seedling.

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Step 8: Fertilize The Seedlings

Once the cabbage seedlings have grown their second set of leaves, feed them with a diluted organic fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper dilution ratio and application method.

By following these steps, you can successfully start cabbage seeds indoors and nurture healthy seedlings for transplanting into the garden.

Planting cabbage from seed is a rewarding and straightforward process that allows you to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this nutritious vegetable. By selecting high-quality seeds, preparing the soil, and starting the seeds indoors, you can lay the foundation for robust and healthy cabbage plants. With proper care and attention, your cabbage plants will thrive and produce delicious heads for you to enjoy in various culinary dishes. Follow the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide to plant cabbage from seed successfully and reap the rewards of homegrown, fresh cabbage.

Transplanting Seedlings Outdoors

Cabbage is a versatile and nutrient-packed vegetable that can be grown successfully from seed. Planting cabbage from seed enables you to have a wider variety of cultivars to choose from compared to purchasing seedlings from a nursery. Additionally, starting from seed allows you to monitor the entire growth process and ensure the health and quality of your cabbage plants.

Transplanting cabbage seedlings outdoors requires proper site selection and preparation. Follow these steps to ensure successful transplanting:

  1. Choosing the right time: Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous family and grows best in cool weather. Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date in your region. Transplant them outdoors when the soil temperature reaches about 40°F (4°C) and all danger of frost has passed.

  2. Preparing the soil: Cabbage thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH level of 6.0-7.5. Before transplanting, amend the soil with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and moisture retention. Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area.

  3. Digging the holes: Dig planting holes 10-12 inches apart in rows that are spaced about 2-3 feet apart. Make the holes slightly deeper and wider than the seedlings’ root balls.

  4. Transplanting the seedlings: Gently remove the seedlings from their containers or trays, taking care not to damage the delicate roots. Place each seedling in a hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Fill the hole with soil, lightly firming it around the seedling to eliminate air pockets.

  5. Watering and mulching: Immediately after transplanting, water each seedling thoroughly. This helps settle the soil and ensures good root-to-soil contact. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around the base of the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

Caring For Cabbage Plants

To ensure healthy growth and a bountiful cabbage harvest, ongoing care is essential. Here are some key aspects to consider while caring for cabbage plants:

  1. Thinning seedlings: If you have sown multiple seeds per hole, thin the seedlings to allow sufficient space for growth. Keep the healthiest and strongest-looking seedling in each hole and carefully remove the extras. Maintain a spacing of 10-12 inches between plants to ensure proper air circulation and prevent overcrowding.

  2. Fertilizing: Cabbage is a heavy feeder and requires regular fertilization to promote optimal growth. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formulation, every two to three weeks. Alternatively, use organic options like compost tea or fish emulsion. Follow the package instructions for proper dosage and application methods.

  3. Weed control: Regular weeding is crucial to prevent competition for nutrients and moisture. Remove any weeds that appear near the cabbage plants, being cautious not to disturb the plant’s shallow roots. Applying a thick layer of mulch around the plants can also help suppress weed growth.

  4. Hilling soil: As the cabbage plants grow, they may benefit from the soil being hilled up around their stems. This provides added support and stability to the plants. Gently mound soil around the base of the plants up to the lowest leaf level. Be careful not to cover the crown or the central growing point of the cabbage.

  5. Protecting against weather extremes: Cabbage can be sensitive to both hot and cold weather conditions. During hot periods, provide shade to protect the plants from intense sunlight by using shade cloth or planting them near taller crops that can provide natural shade. In case of frost or freezing temperatures, cover the plants with cloth or plastic to provide insulation and prevent damage.

Watering And Irrigation Techniques

Proper watering is critical to the successful growth and development of cabbage plants. Follow these watering techniques to maintain healthy plants:

  1. Consistent moisture: Cabbage requires consistent moisture throughout its growth cycle. Water the plants regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but not overly saturated. Aim for approximately 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall. Adjust watering depending on weather conditions and the moisture retention capacity of your soil.

  2. Deep watering: When irrigating cabbage, aim for deep watering rather than light sprinkling. This encourages the development of deep roots and helps plants withstand dry conditions. Apply water directly to the soil, avoiding wetting the foliage. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are ideal for deep watering as they deliver water directly to the root zone.

  3. Mulching: Mulching plays a vital role in conserving moisture and reducing water evaporation. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants, ensuring it doesn’t touch the stem. This helps to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

  4. Monitor soil moisture: Regularly monitor the soil moisture levels to ensure the plants are receiving adequate water. Insert your finger or a moisture meter into the soil at a depth of about 2-3 inches. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Alternatively, cabbage plants can show visual signs of water stress, such as wilting or drooping leaves.

Pest And Disease Control

Protecting your cabbage plants from pests and diseases is critical for a successful harvest. Implement these preventative measures and control methods to keep your plants healthy:

  1. Crop rotation: Practice crop rotation by avoiding planting cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables in the same spot every year. This helps reduce the build-up of pests and diseases in the soil. Wait at least 3 years before replanting cabbage in the same location.

  2. Floating row covers: Covering cabbage plants with lightweight, breathable fabric, such as floating row covers, can deter flying insects like cabbage moths and butterflies from laying eggs on the plants. Secure the covers firmly to prevent pests from gaining access while still allowing for proper air circulation.

  3. Handpicking pests: Regularly inspect your plants for pests like aphids, cabbage loopers, and slugs. Handpick and remove any pests you find, wearing gardening gloves to protect yourself if necessary. You can also introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on cabbage pests.

  4. Organic pest control: Utilize organic pest control methods such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil, which are effective against a wide range of pests including aphids, caterpillars, and cabbage worms. Follow the instructions on the product labels for proper usage and precautions.

  5. Disease management: Keep an eye out for common cabbage diseases such as clubroot, blackleg, and powdery mildew. To reduce the risk of disease, ensure good air circulation by spacing plants adequately. Water at the base of the plants instead of overhead to prevent moisture buildup on the foliage. Remove any infected plants immediately to prevent the spread of disease.

Planting cabbage from seed is a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow this nutritious vegetable in your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, including transplanting seedlings outdoors, caring for plants, watering techniques, and pest and disease control, you can cultivate healthy cabbage plants and enjoy a plentiful harvest. Remember to monitor your plants regularly, provide necessary care, and always stay vigilant in protecting your cabbage from potential threats. With diligence and attention, you can successfully grow cabbage from seed and enjoy flavorful and nutritious homegrown produce.

Fertilizing Cabbage Plants

Cabbage, a cool-season vegetable, is a nutritious and versatile leafy green that can be enjoyed in various culinary dishes. Growing cabbage from seed is an affordable and rewarding way to have a bountiful harvest of this crisp and delicious vegetable.

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Cabbage plants require proper nutrition to grow and develop robustly. Let’s explore the fertilization process to ensure the health and productivity of your cabbage plants.

  1. Soil Preparation: Before planting cabbage seeds, it is essential to prepare the soil adequately. Begin by clearing the area of any weeds or debris. Dig the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and remove any rocks or clumps of soil. Break up larger soil clumps and ensure that the soil is loose and well-drained.

  2. Adding Organic Matter: Cabbage plants thrive in fertile soil enriched with organic matter. Incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil during the soil preparation process. This will boost the soil’s nutrient content and improve its texture. Aim to incorporate around 2-3 inches of organic matter into the soil.

  3. Balancing Soil pH: Cabbage plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 6.5. Use a soil testing kit to determine the pH level of your soil. If the pH is too low (acidic), add agricultural lime to raise it. If it is too high (alkaline), add elemental sulfur to lower it. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct application rates.

  4. Applying Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer: Cabbage plants are heavy feeders when it comes to nitrogen. Before transplanting seedlings, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil. Look for fertilizers with a high proportion of nitrogen (N), such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Follow the package instructions for proper application rates. This initial dose of nitrogen will encourage vigorous growth and the development of lush green leaves.

  5. Side-Dressing with Fertilizer: As the cabbage plants mature, they will benefit from additional fertilizer applications. This process is known as side-dressing. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, around the base of the plants when they are about 3-4 weeks old. Ensure that the fertilizer is lightly worked into the soil surface to prevent it from touching the plant’s stem directly. Repeat this process every 3-4 weeks throughout the growing season to provide a continuous supply of nutrients.

  6. Mulching: To conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature, consider applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the cabbage plants. Mulch helps to retain moisture and reduces the need for frequent watering. It also acts as a natural fertilizer as it decomposes over time, adding nutrients to the soil.

Harvesting Cabbage

Harvesting cabbage at the right time ensures optimal taste and texture. Here are the steps to follow for a successful cabbage harvest:

  1. Determine the Maturity Date: Different cabbage varieties have varying maturity dates, which range from 70 to 180 days. Check the seed packet or consult the information provided by the seed supplier to find out the expected maturity date for your specific cabbage variety. This information will help you plan ahead and know when to start checking for maturity.

  2. Observe the Cabbage Heads: As the cabbage heads start to mature, monitor them closely. Observe the size, shape, and overall appearance of the heads. Most cabbage varieties are ready for harvest when the heads feel firm and solid. Avoid waiting too long to harvest, as overripe cabbage can become tough and develop a strong flavor.

  3. Inspect Outer Leaves: When cabbage heads reach a suitable size, inspect the outer leaves. Lift the lower leaves and examine the head beneath. If the outer leaves start to split, it is an indication that the cabbage is approaching maturity. Splitting occurs when the cabbage head expands faster than the outer leaves can stretch.

  4. Harvesting Process: To harvest cabbage, use a sharp knife or garden shears. Position the blade horizontally at the base of the cabbage head, slightly angled away from the center. Make a clean cut through the stalk, separating the head from the stalk. Be careful not to damage the surrounding leaves or nearby heads if you have multiple cabbage plants.

  5. Removing the Head: After harvesting the cabbage head, gently remove any loose or damaged outer leaves. Leave the outer layer of healthy leaves intact to protect the head during storage.

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Storing Cabbage

Proper storage is crucial to maintain the freshness and quality of harvested cabbage. Follow these guidelines for optimal cabbage storage:

  1. Removing Excess Moisture: Cabbage should be stored in a cool and dry place. Before storing, ensure that the outer leaves are dry. If necessary, gently wipe off any excess moisture using a clean cloth or paper towel. Excessive moisture can lead to rotting and spoilage.

  2. Preventing Ethylene Exposure: Cabbage is sensitive to ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that triggers ripening. To prevent premature ripening, avoid storing cabbage alongside fruits or vegetables that produce high levels of ethylene, such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes.

  3. Refrigerator Storage: For short-term storage, cabbage can be kept in the refrigerator. Place the cabbage heads in a perforated plastic bag or wrap them loosely with a damp cloth to maintain humidity. Store them in the vegetable crisper section, which provides a cooler and more humid environment. Cabbage stored in the refrigerator can remain fresh for up to two weeks.

  4. Root Cellar Storage: If you have access to a root cellar or a cool basement, you can store cabbage for an extended period. Trim the outer leaves and leave the root intact. Dig a shallow trench in the ground and place the cabbage heads, root-side down, into the trench. Cover the heads with soil, ensuring that the outer leaves remain above ground. This method protects the cabbage from freezing temperatures while maintaining a cool and humid environment. Stored cabbage can last for several months under proper conditions.

Final Tips And Summary

Here are some additional tips to ensure success when planting cabbage from seed:

  1. Timing: Cabbage is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperatures between 45°F and 75°F (7°C-24°C). Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last anticipated frost date in your area. Transplant the seedlings outdoors once they have developed 3-4 true leaves. Alternatively, cabbage can be directly sown outdoors in early spring or late summer.

  2. Seed Sowing: Plant cabbage seeds approximately ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil and lightly firm the soil surface. Maintain consistent moisture until the seedlings emerge.

  3. Thinning Seedlings: Once the cabbage seedlings have grown their first true leaves, thin them to provide enough space for each plant’s development. Leave the healthiest-looking seedlings and remove the weaker ones. Maintain a spacing of 10-18 inches between plants, depending on the cabbage variety.

  4. Pest and Disease Management: Cabbage is susceptible to various pests and diseases, such as aphids, cabbage loopers, and clubroot. Monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures to control pests, such as using organic insecticides or implementing companion planting strategies. Practice crop rotation to minimize the risk of diseases, and promptly remove any infected plants to prevent further spread.

  5. Watering: Cabbage plants need consistent moisture to grow well. Water the plants deeply, providing around 1 inch of water per week. Avoid overhead watering, as wet foliage can increase the risk of disease. Consider using drip irrigation or a soaker hose to deliver water directly to the soil.

  6. Harvesting Outer Leaves: If you prefer, you can harvest cabbage leaves gradually instead of waiting for the entire head to mature. This process is known as harvesting outer leaves. Begin with the outermost leaves, cutting them at the base of the plant. As you remove outer leaves, new leaves will continue to grow from the center, providing a continuous supply of fresh leaves for salads or cooking.

In summary, planting cabbage from seed involves soil preparation, fertilization, seed sowing, proper watering, and timely pest and disease management. Harvest cabbage heads when they are firm and solid, and store them in a cool, dry location. With proper care, your cabbage plants will thrive, providing you with a delicious and nutritious harvest.


Growing cabbage from seed is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy fresh and healthy produce straight from your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant cabbage from seed, ensuring optimal growth and a plentiful harvest. Remember to provide proper fertilization, monitor the plants for maturity, and store the harvested cabbage heads appropriately. With patience and care, you’ll be able to enjoy the crisp and delicious taste of homegrown cabbage in your meals.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Cabbage From Seed?

Cabbage is a cool weather crop, so it is best to plant the seeds in early spring or late summer/early fall for optimal growth.

How Deep Should I Plant Cabbage Seeds?

Cabbage seeds should be planted at a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in moist, well-drained soil.

Do I Need To Start Cabbage Seeds Indoors Before Transplanting Them Outside?

While you can start cabbage seeds indoors, it is not necessary. Cabbage is a hardy plant that can be sown directly into the ground.

How Far Apart Should I Space Cabbage Seeds When Planting?

Cabbage seeds should be planted 12-18 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart. This allows enough room for the cabbage heads to fully develop.

How Long Does It Take For Cabbage Seeds To Germinate?

Cabbage seeds typically take 7-14 days to germinate. In colder temperatures, it may take longer. Once germinated, the seedlings should be thinned out so that they are 12-18 inches apart.