How and When To Harvest Brussel Sprouts

Harvested Brussels sprouts stalks lean up against a wall
Growing At-A-Glance
Learn exactly when to harvest Brussel sprouts for tender, sweet, tasty sprouts directly from your garden!

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Brussel sprouts are one of our favorite vegetables to grow! These delicious and easy to grow cabbage family plants are a great cool-weather crop that helps extend your harvest well into the fall and winter months. But knowing when (and how!) to harvest those little green cabbages can be tricky! Don’t worry, we’ve got decades of experience growing Brussels, and we’ll give you all our tips to pick perfect sprouts every time.

How to Know When Brussels Sprouts Are Ready 

If you’re only going to know one thing about when to harvest Brussel sprouts, know this: you can’t really harvest them too early!

Unlike some other garden veggies that need to reach full size before they are tasty, Brussels sprouts are delicious and ready to enjoy at all sizes—from the smallest marbles all the way up to golf ball size!

In the Growfully gardens, we tend to wait until they are at least the size of a shooter marble (about 3/4″ in diameter) to start harvesting, but that’s mostly just to extend our harvest and increase volume. There is nothing from stopping you from harvesting sooner or later!

Growfully Protip

Timing when to plant Brussels sprouts is key when it comes to making sure your sprouts are mature before the growing season slows down. We have that info plus tons of other tips on growing Brussels sprouts in our growing guide.

Two hands hold Brussels sprouts over the snow

When to harvest Brussel sprouts 

Brussels sprouts will naturally start to mature and ripen from the bottom of the stalk to the top. While it might be picture perfect to harvest the whole stalk, we highly recommend harvesting in stages to extend your harvest! This means that as soon as the lower harvestable sprouts get to a size that works for your recipe, you can pick them. As a reminder: we tend to wait until they are at least 3/4″ in diameter, but 1″ to 2″ in diameter is closer to what you’d find in the grocery store).

Do pay close attention to the days-to-maturity on the seed packet or brussels sprouts seedlings. Brussels sprouts varieties can vary from between 100 to 200 days-to-maturity! This is a great benefit because it means you can time your sprouts to be harvestable from early fall all the way through winter in many growing zones.

What if I want to harvest the entire stalk of Brussels sprouts?

If you do want to harvest your whole Brussels sprout stalk at once, we recommend clipping off the top 4″ to 6″ of the plant once enough sprouts have established on the stalk. This will force the plant to put energy into ripening the current sprouts instead of producing more. You should then be able to harvest the entire stalk of mature sprouts within 3-4 weeks.

How to harvest Brussel sprouts 

There are two schools of thought when it comes to harvesting individual sprouts: twist and snap off or using a sharp knife to cut off each sprout. We’ve tried both in the Growfully Gardens and haven’t seen any benefit to one over the other. 

Growfully Protip

Frequently harvesting the larger sprouts from the bottom of the plant stalk allows the plant to put more energy into producing new sprouts on the stem at the top, so harvest often to extend your bounty!

Brussels sprouts grow on stalks

How long can you leave Brussels sprouts in the garden?

A little secret: Brussels sprouts get sweeter and more tender after going through a freeze or frost in the garden! In our Zone 6 gardens, we often leave our Brussel sprout plants in the garden all the way through winter, finally pulling them early spring when we are prepping the garden for the summer growing season. 

There are a number of Brussel sprout varieties that are incredibly hardy and can hold in the garden well into winter. Here are some of our faves:

  • Igor: classic green sprouts that are very winter hardy
  • Redarling: bright purple/red (think red cabbage) sprouts that are one of the most winter hardy 
  • Long Island Improved: a classic heirloom variety that is well-loved because of it’s compact nature—great for smaller gardens
  • Jade Cross: another compact plant that matures quickly, making them a good option for climates with either a short cool weather season or a harsh, early winter

Growfully Protip

Brussel sprout plants can be overwintered in USDA Zones 6 and warmer without any cover. Mulch and row covers can help extend the harvest in colder climates.

Do Brussels sprouts grow back after harvesting?

Brussel sprout plants do not typically grow back if you cut off the entire stalk. If you want a continuous harvest of sprouts, harvest individual sprouts in stages from the bottom of the stalk as they mature instead of harvesting the entire stalk.

Want more harvesting tips?

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!
Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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A wooden hopper is filled with just-harvested vegetables.
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