It is hard to think of a vegetable that is more beloved around the world than broccoli. It’s not just a matter of good taste or good nutrition, either: broccoli is very literally a keystone crop in many countries.
Accordingly, there are many varieties of broccoli, and the good news is we have pretty much mastered how to grow each and every one of them.
If you want to grow your own broccoli, you’ll need to start by learning how much sun it can tolerate. So, how much sun does broccoli need?
Broccoli needs around 6 hours of full sun every day in cooler weather, but it will grow fine in partial shade or partial sun conditions in warm weather. Broccoli should be protected from direct sun in hot weather, though.
Compared to many vegetables, broccoli is surprisingly hardy and adaptable concerning sunlight in most growing zones.
The usual causes for broccoli faltering or turning out a dismal crop often relate to soil nutrient levels or ambient temperature, not sun exposure.
That being said, if you want crisp, delicious broccoli that isn’t bitter, you’ll still need to nail getting it just the right amount of sun. I will tell you how much and a lot more below.
Is Full Sun Best for Broccoli?
Sometimes. In cool weather, most varieties of broccoli will do well with more direct sun.
In warmer environments, a little bit of direct sun is enough if they have partial shade or partial sun the rest of the time. In hot weather, broccoli should be protected from direct sun.
How Many Hours of Sun a Day is Best for Broccoli?
In cooler climates or when temperatures have dipped, 6 hours of direct sunlight every day is plenty for broccoli.
When it is warmer, a few hours of direct sunlight is plenty and the rest of its sun should be received when it is in partial shade.
Will Too Much Sun Hurt Broccoli?
Yes, broccoli can definitely get too much sun, and it can get too much sun very easily in warm weather!
Too much sun will cause the leaves of broccoli to wilt and wither, and the stems to become stringy and vulnerable to damage.
In younger plants, this manifests as the crowns being totally absent. In more mature plants, they will start to turn it yellow or brown, and at the same time nasty tasting compounds will form in the flesh of the plants.
Even if the plants survive or recover, this can be ruinous for the quality of your broccoli harvest.
However, broccoli that is only slightly toasted from the sun can still be salvageable and made edible by extended cooking.
Of course, extended exposure to sun during high temperatures will scorch and possibly kill your plants.
Does Broccoli Do Well in Indirect Sun?
Yes, absolutely! Broccoli is a veggie that actually does great with indirect, sun and it can do especially well with indirect sun during hot weather.
An overhead canopy of leaves or mesh that can filter sunlight might be just the thing to keep your broccoli from getting roasted before it’s time to, well, roast it!
If you are planting in a warm region, consider placing it somewhere where it will get sun in the morning and partial to full shade in the afternoon.
This will optimize the growth of the plant, and ensure that the crowns stay crisp and sweet.
It’s also possible to grow broccoli indoors so long as you can ensure it gets those 6 hours of sunlight every single day.
A south facing window is ideal for the purpose, or you might consider investing in grow lights.
Will Broccoli Thrive in Shade?
Yes. Or rather, broccoli can grow and thrive in partial shade, but it will not prosper in full shade without any sunlight.
What Happens to Broccoli That Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
Broccoli has an obvious stress response to a lack of sunlight, a condition known as “legginess” or “going leggy”.
When this occurs, the leaves of the plant will yellow and wilt, and the stems will grow taller and taller but coming thinner in the process – trying to lift the leaves to a point where they can reach more sunlight.
This could lead to a total absence of crowns, or if the florets have already started growing they’ll be much smaller.
Keep in mind that, as tolerant of shade as broccoli is, it can still die if it doesn’t get enough sun!
Sun Requirements for Different Broccoli Varieties
I’ll let you in on a little secret when it comes to growing broccoli, something that is usually overlooked by beginning gardeners…
Owing to its popularity around the world, there are countless varieties that you can choose from.
Each of these varieties is optimized for growing in warmer conditions or in cooler conditions and, naturally, the ones intended for warmer climates usually tolerate full sun better, with the reverse being true for the ones intended for cool climates.
All of them need generally 6 hours of sun a day, true, but how much full sun they tolerate and how much shade they can tolerate is dependent upon the type.
In this regard, each variety is highly unique but no matter where you live there is probably one that will work for you.
A total listing of all of them is way beyond the scope of this short article, so consult your local nursery or greenhouse for more info.
Tips for Bringing Indoor Broccoli Outside
I mentioned above that it’s entirely possible to grow broccoli indoors with the right setup, but chances are the time will come where you’d prefer to transfer it outside when conditions are right (or when the plants are getting large enough).
When this happens, you must take the time to acclimatize the broccoli before you relocate it or else they could get stressed and die.
To do this, all you need to do is place your containers outside in a shady spot for a couple of hours a day.
This process is known as hardening off, and it’s critical if you want your broccoli to survive the transfer.
Do this every day for a week or maybe 2 weeks if you live in a warmer area and each day increase the amount of time you leave the broccoli outside by 30 minutes or so.
At the end of the process, the broccoli will be fully acclimatized to outdoor conditions and temperatures, and then you can permanently relocate the container or transplant it into the ground if you prefer.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.