Will cauliflower do anything after you pick the main flower like broccoli or should I just pull the whole plant out when I'm harvesting?

10 Answers 10


Cauliflower does not usually develop side shoots, therefore most people will dig up the whole plant after harvesting the heads.

Put the dug up plants in your compost pile, but if there is any sign of disease on the plants dispose of them via other means ie Not via your compost pile.

  • Not to over emphasize the particulars, but is there any reason why would you harvest the heads, then dig up the whole plant? Why not just dig up the whole plant, then harvest the heads? Jul 7, 2011 at 15:31
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    @Peter Turner, cauliflower heads (curds) are fairly delicate, therefore removing them (with a very! sharp knife) from the plant before hand greatly reduces the risk of damaging them...
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 7, 2011 at 15:37
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    FWIW, I've seen advice (in multiple places, but I can't remember where now) regarding composting brassicas that you should never put the roots into the compost because of the risk of disease.
    – bstpierre
    Jul 7, 2011 at 15:40
  • @bstpierre, please feel free to edit my answer and add in that good piece of advice (better to be safe than sorry).
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 7, 2011 at 15:43
  • I think that's good fodder for another question altogether! I couldn't find the answer on the internets. Jul 7, 2011 at 15:55

Maybe we should rethink the way we garden! I, too cut the main head off that was huge on my fall cauliflower. But it had been planted next to a new fruit tree and I did not want to disturb the roots so I left it there thinking that it would decompose on its own. In the spring it produced 4 side shoots - each producing a very full head. I cut those off and guess what - it produced again in the fall. Unfortunately, my chickens got out and ate the plant for dinner one cold morning. I have an eggplant that is 3 years old and still producing along with various peppers and a cabbage that has 3 medium size heads on it at the moment. All of these plants are heirlooms and maybe we should all take a look to see if traditional pulling and replanting is really the optimal way to go. Good luck!

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    What zone are you in? Bet that won't work in wisconsin, I left my Cauliflower out all winter and now it's a gnarly fibrous shaman stick. Apr 12, 2016 at 16:50
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    Many vegetables are perennials in some climates, and being frost tender, are annuals elsewhere. Tomatoes are one such, as egg plants. Apr 13, 2016 at 1:13

My dog figured out that cauliflower is delicious. Two plants survived with just a nub of the flower intact. They have regrown and I now have two more heads! They are not as tightly packed as the first ones were. I have also cut off some of the leaves and eaten them as well. I am going to cut off the majority of the head and see if it will do it again.


I have cut my Lime colored heads mid summer. It's now mid September and both regrew bigger than first head. No lie. Didn't pull in first place because too big, and then I just wanted to see what would happen. Nice surprise. Totally rethinking cauliflower in next year's garden. I am in zone 5-6, mountainish area in Oregon. Dry summer, crazy wet fall.


Unlike some of the responses, I have experienced secondary growth after harvesting the main Cauliflower head. So, I would suggest keeping the plant and giving it a change, assuming you don't have any other use of that space i.e. you are not ready to plant something else.

  • +1 I've eaten cabbage shoots out of molded up piece of of cabbage thrown away in the garden.
    – Vorac
    Oct 11, 2023 at 11:32

I picked my cauliflower and cabbage several weeks ago but left two of the plants in to see what would happen. They both have a lot of new growth on them, so I'm leaving them. One has at least six new shoots.


Do I have news for you! I live in Phoenix too. Planted 6 cauliflower bedding plants in mid Nov last year (2020). First time ever I have tried to grow it. They started to form little white heads in early Feb and promptly grew tall, with sprangly green stems and tiny yellow florets (I believe they tried to bolt, we had a rash of 70+ degree days). After some lovely internet research, I discovered that people actually do eat the mature leaves and the bolted heads. They are either roasted in the oven with oil and spices, or used in stir fry applications. I treated them like I do fried cabbage... Diced half a large onion, chopped one of the sprangly bolted heads into 1in pieces, sauteed in bacon grease and a little butter, salt and pepper about 5-10 min until it started to get some nice brown color on the edges, then added in about 10 of the big leaves coursely chopped and sauteed about 3-5 more minutes until the leaves were wilted. Freakin' Delicious!!!! Doesn't taste like cauliflower at all, somewhere more between mild broccoli and spinach taste. My new fave way to eat cauliflower!!!! So yes! We do need to rethink how we plant and harvest this plant!! How did I not know all these years about this great way to eat them??? Because they don't sell the mature leaves in grocery stores in this country!!! And I am leaving the plants in the ground to see what happens. (Assuming I can keep my hands off all the big tasty leaves!) I know cabbages will send up new shoots; some say the smaller heads produced this way are more flavorful... We will see... I have 6 cabbages planted too! Might have about one or two more months before it gets really hot.


I live in phoenix it's now late March I harvested 6 nice califlower heads abut two weeks ago when I was removing the leaves for my compost pile I noticed new growth sprouting from the base of the main stocks i'll just leave them see what results I get? F Y I


Purchased a cauliflower at the grocery store (North Central NC). I chucked the core into the trees in probably early february (which has been unseasonably cold, plus rainy), and a month or so later I found it had sprouted plants on both ends of the core! Today I broke the core in half and planted the plants in my garden box. Fingers crossed for free cauliflowers. :)


I knew a storm front was coming in and planned to cover the plants. But instead of the next day, it came in early in the wee hours and dropped into the low 20s.

The fall planted cauliflower plants died off to ground level, the broccoli was damaged (but I ate it quickly) and the cabbage had a little leaf edge damage but survived.

Imagine my surprise when the cauliflower came back in the spring! Lots of leaves and getting big. Waiting to see what will happen.

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