Why Does Your Broccoli Have Yellow Flowers?

Broccoli is known for its distinct forest green florets and bright green stem. However, it’s not uncommon for gardeners to find that their broccoli plant has completely yellowed. This won’t make your crop a complete waste, but it will signify something is going wrong.

Your broccoli might have yellow flowers because it has gone bad, has been harvested too late, or is stressed. Stress can be caused by unideal watering, temperature, or soil conditions. Yellow broccoli is usually safe to eat, but tastes extremely bitter. 

While you can eat yellow broccoli, you probably don’t want to. Below, I’ll explain why broccoli may turn yellow and discuss some solutions to ensure your next crop is better. Additionally, I’ll give you some simple methods for reviving your broccoli if it’s not past the point of no return.

Why Is My Broccoli Yellow?

If there’s one thing for sure, you want bright green broccoli. Yellow broccoli tastes bitter and becomes inedible, and broccoli rotted with dark spots indicates diseases. I think it’s safe to say no one is growing yellow broccoli on purpose. 

Your broccoli plant may be yellow because the conditions have become unideal and stressed the plant. Typically, the causes of stress will be overwatering, underwatering, high soil temperatures, low soil temperatures, or an unhealthy pH balance in your soil. 

Stress is one of the most common causes of plants growing uncharacteristically. We all want our plants to grow in the most ideal of conditions. However, beginner gardeners might not realize how vast “ideal conditions” are. It’s not just about water and sunlight, but about the temperature, humidity, pH, and nutrients reaching your plant. 

If your broccoli turns yellow, something in the “perfect crop” formula might be slightly off. However, this doesn’t leave out the possibility of something out of your control causing problems, such as pests and diseases. As soon as you notice yellowing florets, look for other signs of trouble. Check out the leaves, soil, and stems from seeing if you notice anything else. If not, begin with water, sunlight, and pH. 

Ideal Conditions for Growing Healthy Broccoli

Ideally, your broccoli will be planted indoors before you take them outside if you plan to be a Spring crop. Full sun is their ideal sunlight condition. Additionally, broccoli is a crop that benefits greatly from regular rotation. 

Rotate Broccoli Crops With Each Season

Crop rotation means taking your vegetables and fruits and moving them to different spots each season so that no one crop has grown in the same place for too long. This isn’t likely the problem if this is your first growing season. However, keep this in mind for next summer’s garden.

Broccoli Grows Best In Moist, Rich Soil

Your broccoli will thrive in moist soil, so you should be watering them with about an inch of water at least once a week. This number will change depending on how warm it is in your climate. The pH should be between 6 and 7, with full availability of nutrients, especially phosphorus and potassium.

If you’ve gone through this list and see that one of your soil offerings to your broccoli is off, that would be a great place to start for adjustment. 

Soil Temperatures Affect Broccoli Color

Soil temperatures are the most likely reason that your broccoli has yellow florets. Broccoli thrives in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33 to 23.89 degrees Celsius). A stressed broccoli plant might be experiencing soil temperatures above or below.

Though it may be 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33 degrees Celsius) outside, you can’t be sure how hot or cold your soil is. I highly recommend using a moisture meter with a sunlight and temperature setting. You can stick the moisture meter deep into your soil to see how your broccoli roots are doing. 

You may be surprised at how different the soil temperature on the surface is from what it is down below. Both of these will likely be different from the outside temperature.

Even if the temperature outside is fine, a factor that often contributes to too-hot soil or too-cool soil is the spot in your garden in which your broccoli is planted. If you have a reflective surface, like a shed or a car parking spot, this can increase the heat around your plant. However, if you’ve planted your broccoli in a small valley in your backyard under a shady tree, they’ll likely be chillier than intended. 

Helpful Tools for Correcting Growing Conditions

If you’d rather figure out the issue right away instead of going through every possibility, there are some tools and methods that can help. 

For watering or moisture problems, you can utilize the toothpick test. Simply stick a toothpick or a bamboo stick into your soil and pull it back out. The amount of dirt remaining on the soil will indicate if watering is your issue:

  • Muddy means you’re watering too much.
  • The stick forcing through compacted soil means you’re watering too much.
  • A slightly dirty stick means the soil has great moisture.
  • Bone dry and loose soil means you’re not watering enough.

Alternatively, you can test your soil using a pH meter, a moisture meter, or a soil test kit. The soil test kit gives you specific readings for how many nutrients are available within your soil and is less expensive than both other options.

Common Broccoli Growing Mistakes

Broccoli heads are susceptible to rot, so if you’re watering with a hose or a watering can, try to avoid the heads. If possible, utilize the misting setting instead of the high-pressure settings. The water will get in between all the little florets and have difficulty drying. 

Harvesting Practices Can Lead to Broccoli Yellowing

Sometimes, the way we harvest broccoli is what makes them go yellow. 

If your broccoli is yellow and still connected to the plant, this isn’t the case. However, if you’ve noticed a few days have passed since harvesting and your broccoli is yellow, it could be related to your harvesting or storing technique. Be sure to remove all moisture from the broccoli and cut it at the stem rather than pulling it, ensuring your plant lasts longer. Longer-lasting plants mean less yellowing. 

Can I Eat Yellow Broccoli?

If you’ve spent all summer laboring over your broccoli crop just to have them grow yellow, you might be wondering if your broccoli can be salvaged. While there are a few techniques to help revive your plant, sometimes broccoli is past the point of no return. 

You can eat yellow broccoli as long as it’s not mushy or rotting. However, broccoli tends to be bitter and less appetizing to most people after it turns yellow. If you are okay with the taste, you can proceed with caution after a thorough inspection. 

If you’ve looked at the symptomology above and think that your yellow broccoli is due to non-ideal conditions, it’s more likely to be “still edible,” but not as good. However, any other symptoms will point to non-edible broccoli you should avoid. Look for other signs of rotting, mold, insects, and abnormal discolorations through the root and stem. 

How To Fix Yellow Broccoli 

Fixing yellow broccoli might be worth it if you’re trying to minimize your food waste or you’re okay with your vegetables tasting different. 

Just be aware that once your broccoli goes yellow, you shouldn’t expect it to taste anything like broccoli. Unfortunately, it probably won’t pair well with your fettuccine recipe or a salad in the same way. However, utilizing it as a unique vegetable might make it easier to consume.

Giving your broccoli an ice water bath can help revive some of its wilted features. Sometimes called blanching, some people “shock” their veggies in cold water to help them stay fresher longer. Especially if your broccoli has gone yellow in the fridge or during storage, you might try the shock method. Watch this video to see this technique in action:

Ice water usually makes vegetables crispier and can also make them tastier. It’s a method worth trying on your yellow broccoli to make it more edible. 

Optimal Broccoli Storage

Storage after harvest is also essential in keeping your broccoli from turning yellow. Sometimes, when you cut up the florets and store them separately, there’s less chance for moisture to grow and weaken the plant within the crevices. Broccoli should be stored in a cold, dry place, like the crisper drawer in your refrigerator.

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to gardening, issues typically aren’t as straightforward as one might hope. Plants are complex beings, not unlike humans. It could be one of many factors causing your broccoli to turn yellow, and the process may have begun in various parts of your routine. Check your watering, soil temperatures, sunlight, pH, and nutrients often, and make sure to use best practices when harvesting your broccoli and storing them.

You can read my other article on the causes of flowering broccoli and how to avoid it here: Why Is Your Broccoli Flowering? What You Need To Know

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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