Broccoli is certainly a favorite garden crop for many growers. Among the first veggies to go into the spring garden, broccoli produces an edible crop in as little as 50 days after transplant. While it’s fun—and delicious!—to grow “regular” green broccoli, these five unusual broccoli varieties deserve a place in your garden, too.
Unusual Broccoli Varieties: 5 Funky Choices
1. Hon Tsai Tai Sprouting Broccoli:
Instead of producing a big green head of flower buds like traditional broccoli varieties, Hon Tsai Tai sprouting broccoli has small flower clusters perched atop slender, purple stems. You harvest and eat the entire elongated flowering shoot, including the stem and leaves. It’s much like broccoli raab but has a more delicate texture. Sprouting broccoli produces beautifully in the autumn and even into the winter, so in addition to planting a spring crop, be sure to plant some in the fall. Also known as Kailaan. (Brassica rapa var. purpurea Hon Tsai Tai)
2. Te You Flowering Broccoli:
Also known as Chinese broccoli, this variety is a clear winner in our garden. It produces very tiny flower clusters and thick, succulent stems. Like the previous selection, with Te You the stems and leaves are eaten along with the flower buds. As an added bonus, it produces edible shoots fairly quickly, and the more shoots you harvest, the more the plant produces. You can harvest from the same spring planting from mid spring all the way through early winter. (Brassica oleracea Te You)
3. Santee Purple Sprouting Broccoli:
This hybrid purple broccoli (pictured above) is also known as purple broccolini. The plants produce quarter-sized clusters of purple flowers. These mini broccoli spears are succulent and delicious, and oh so pretty! The plants are said to overwinter quite well with the moderate protection of a cold frame, high tunnel, or mini hoop house. Though it takes a long season to produce this broccoli variety (90-100 days), it’s well worth it. (Brassica oleracea var. italica Santee)
4. Apollo Broccoli:
This cool broccoli variety does produce a main head of broccoli, just like more traditional varieties do, but what makes Apollo so special is it’s tender side shoots. These shoots are incredibly prolific and their tender stems aren’t the least bit fibrous, making them a very elegant side dish. The flavor is sweet. (Brassica oleracea Apollo)
5. Purple Peacock Broccoli cross:
This incredible broccoli is actually a cross with kale. It produces loose spikes of purple flower buds that are wreathed by ruffled green leaves with purple stems. When young, the sprouts are tender and delicious, and as the plants age, the shoots grow as sweet as frost-kissed kale. Shoots are produced continually throughout the growing season, and the cold-tolerant nature of this variety means you’ll be harvesting well into the autumn as well. (Brassica oleracea var. italica Purple Peacock).
If you have a hankering to try something new in this year’s garden, these unusual broccoli varieties will fit the bill. They’ll fill your garden with beauty and your dinner plate with flavor for months on end.