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Why is My Broccoli Turning Yellow? Is Yellow Broccoli Okay to Eat?

Last year my aunt ran to me with yellow Broccoli in full of hands and asked me to help throw those vegetables.

Then, I consoled her by revealing the real reasons for yellowed Broccoli and helped her get most of them.

Generally, Broccoli turns yellow when it reaches the end of its lifespan. But some factors, including improper watering, fluctuating temperature, and nitrogen deficiency, also trigger the yellow crown and florets. But the good thing is they are edible and safe even after turning yellow.

A person is holding a head of broccoli
Yellowing Broccoli from lush green results from insufficient care unless the plant reaches the end.

I have always loved Broccoli for its low-calorie content and fewer carbohydrates with an abundance of proteins. Moreover, Broccoli has anti-cancer properties that add the cherry on top.

However, to enjoy all the benefits, you must prevent the Broccoli from turning yellow and keep the nutrients intact.

Thus, you need to finish reading the article to learn the exact cause of Broccoli turning yellow with its immediate revival steps.

Is it Normal for Broccoli to Turn Yellow?

Broccoli turning yellow is normal if it has completed its maturity stage and enters into aging.

When Broccoli ages, the green chlorophyll pigment breaks down, making the xanthophyll pigment more prominent and responsible for the yellow and orange color.

Blotched yellow head of Broccoli with its stem attached
If not plucked on time, Broccoli will turn completely into yellow flowers instead of a green vegetable.

However, yellowing can be worrisome in Broccoli if it occurs when the flower heads are still immature.  

At this time, the plant might indicate that the care practice has gone wrong somewhere. 

Let us know the probable causes for the Broccoli turning yellow other than the normal life cycle.

What Causes Broccoli Plants to Turn Yellow?

As mentioned above, the yellowing of the Broccoli plant is common if attached to the plant without harvesting.

But other reasons that can invite yellowing are listed below with their instant solution!

1. Improper Watering

Water ensures the taste is intact to the Broccoli and helps to transfer the nutrients to the whole parts of the plant.

But the Broccoli suffers from water stress in a lack of a consistent watering schedule. 

In underwater conditions, the roots cannot transfer nutrients to leaves and flower heads, making them wilt and turn yellow.

Seedling of Broccoli is growing in ground with a pipe for irrigation by its side
Water the Broccoli directly to the soil instead of the foliage to prevent rotting.

And while you try to correct the underwater, the Broccoli undergoes plant shock since they have started to adapt to the given situation.

In overwater conditions, logged water ceases oxygen flow in the soil, depriving roots of oxygen.

The water-logged condition can cause root rotting and invite other fungal diseases, ultimately turning Broccoli yellow.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Water the plant up to 1 inch from the soil and leave the roots to soak it all.
  • Prevent the pot from reaching direct sunlight till it recovers entirely for about a day or two.
  • For the  Broccoli in the garden, cover the plant with plastic wrap to protect it from direct light until the plant’s green leaves and flower heads revive.
  • For overwatered Broccoli, take them out of the pot and put over newspaper to dry the excess water.
  • Shift the pot to the South-west direction window to let the sun rays directly fall on it and dry out the water and later shift to the original location.
  • In the ground, you can make a drainage line beside the cropping area to promote water flow.
  • If water-logged conditions have prolonged, check the roots of the plant for any rotting, and if any, cut it off.  

2. Improper Lighting

Light is the major determinant for Brocolli turning yellow since the color change occurs due to a lack of photosynthesis.

In the presence of low light, Broccoli cannot conduct photosynthesis, causing the breakdown of chlorophyll.

In the absence of chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for the ripening of fruits gets activated, giving yellow-orange colored leaves and heads.

Yellow flowers of Broccoli attached to the stem
Broccoli loves sunny day temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similarly, the soil tends to dry faster in excess light, making the ground brittle and causing cracks with burnt leaves. 

The conditions mentioned above are responsible for Broccoli’s yellow leaves and yellow flower heads.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • If you have settled in a warmer USDA zone, cover the Broccoli with white plastic or shade cloth to prevent the reach of excess light.
  • Move the pot of Broccoli to a location that gets enough indirect light during excess heat.
  • Remove any overshadowing plant from the area of the plantation of Broccoli.
  • In the absence of enough light, use a grow light, LED light, or Fluorescent bulb indoors for at least 12 hours.
  • If Broccoli is in the group, move them a little far away from each other to prevent the fight for the light.

3. Fertilizing Problem

Another cause on the list is fertilizer. Either excess or deficiency can lead to yellow Broccoli.

In the case of over-fertilization, the roots can not uptake all the available nutrients since the salts accumulate near the root in lumps.

maturing-broccolli-plant
Excess or deficiency of fertilizer can harm Broccoli, turning the florets and leaves yellow.

Meanwhile, the deficiency of nitrogen is majorly responsible for turning Broccoli yellow. Broccoli is an entirely greenish vegetable and has more vegetative growth than flowering growth.

But Broccoli does not get enough nitrogen during the deficiency, ultimately leading to yellowing.

Moreover, Broccoli shows different symptoms when suffering from other nutrient deficiencies. Let me make it clear with the table below.

NutrientsEffect on Leaves
PotassiumThe margin of leaves turn yellow to brown and the necrosis progresses from margin to the central part.
PhosphorousLeave show faint red discoloration at the margin with faint yellow green transition zone
CalciumNew leaves turn yellow with chlorotic spots developing along the margins.
MagnesiumLeaf margins of older leaves turn yellow leaving the veins green and shows white to light brown necrotic dots.
IronYoung leaves show faint yellow green veins.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • For nitrogen deficiency, apply the plant with nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer.
  • Treat your soil with organic compost like a bone meal if you do not wish to use synthetic fertilizer.
  • You can spread eggshells over the ground in case of calcium deficiency.
  • If the Broccoli shows several symptoms of deficiency, then better use a balanced fertilizer of N-P-K.
  • To treat overfertilization, wash off the roots and soil with running water to remove excess salts in the ground.

4. Temperature Stress

Compared to other varieties of the Brassica genus, Broccoli can handle the heat and high temperatures.

But they are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, mainly during their growth shifts from vegetative to budding stage.

Temperature above 90ºF affects the bud of the Broccoli, giving the head an uneven structure and turning yellow.

Small crown of Broccoli is emerging out being surrounded by the long leaves and stems.
Fluctuating temperature affects the even distribution of crowns and gives a leafy appearance to Broccoli.

Among all Broccoli’s organic varieties, Belstar can handle high temperatures and is best for spring sowing. 

Meanwhile, even as a hardy plant, low temperatures below 40ºF quietly affect the head of the Broccoli and give it a leafy appearance.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Use mister from time to time if the temperature starts to rise beyond the plant’s requirement.
  • Water the plant with a hose directly into the root to maintain the soil temperature and prevent the water from evaporating.
  • Keep your plant away from the windows during winter to stop the temperature from fluctuating.
  • In the winter days, keep the Broccoli in the West facing window so that the plant receives constant heat from day till night.
  • Cover the garden Broccoli with a frost blanket during the night cold days.

5. Pest Infestation

Broccoli has similar characteristics as cauliflower and cabbage in pest repelling because of the compound glucosinolates.

However, Broccoli cannot get rid itself of pests all the time.

There are significant pests that damage Broccoli seedlings and turn them yellow.

Seven to eight caterpillars are roaming in the green stems of Broccoli.
Pests attacking Broccoli can even be removed by hand-picking.

First on the list is the Caterpillar, the larval stage of butterflies and moths, which feeds on the host plant leaves and makes a window pane appearance on the leaves.

Secondly is the Cabbageworm, which is majorly responsible for skeletonizing the leaves and obstructing the sap flow in the leaves, and turning them yellow.

Moreover, Cabbage Aphids and Turnip Aphids are other responsible culprits.

Aphids have piercing mouths that suck out the sap of the host plant, making the leaves curl, turning yellow, and stunting the plant’s growth.

But all these can be controlled if noticed timely.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Wash off the leaves under running water or spray water over the leaves of the Broccoli with the help of a hose.
  • Snip off all the damaged leaves from the Broccoli and throw them out in the dustbin.
  • If the infestation has reached the head and florets of Broccoli, then better to throw them out to control the further spread.
  • You can even use insecticidal soap or neem oil if the infestation is out of control.
  • You can also add ladybugs to help repel the insects, as they are helpful insects.

6. Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

Broccoli is no different from other Brassica family members, thereby prone to various soil-borne diseases.

Moreover, damage caused by the diseases can start from the bottom or leaves and move to the florets slowly.

excess-moistured-broccoli-plant
The disease of Broccoli surges back if you continue to grow the Broccoli or its related members in the same soil or ground.

And it can be tiresome to handle the infestation if it goes out of control.

Immediate Steps of Revival

There are hundreds of diseases that you might have heard of affecting Broccoli.

But only a few of them causes the yellowing of Broccoli. Look at the table below about its symptoms and solutions.

DiseasesSymptomsSolutions
Alternaria Leaf Spot (Fungal)Starts as small lesions that that turns from yellow to brown gradually


Shows purplish border in the leaves and is able to affect all part of Broccoli
Plant pathogen free seeds and keep rotating the plants.

Apply fungicides like Bonide
Black Rot (Bacterial)Irregular, pale yellow discoloration in the margins of leaves expanding to the midrib with a V-shaped lesions Use good sanitation practices and rotate the plant with non-cruciferous crop every 2 years.

Use pathogen free seed
Club Root (Fungal)Stunted plants with yellow leaves that wilt in day and rejuvenate at night and has distorted rootsIt is difficult to control once spread in the soil.


Prevent the fungus sporulation by spraying lime at the beginning.
Downy Mildew (Fungal)Small lesions appear on the upper surface, later grows into orange yellow necrotic spots.Remove all of the debris from the previous cropping and keep rotating with non-brassicas.

Use liquid fungicide rich in copper.

7. High or Low Soil pH

Soil is always the major cause of anything good or bad.  

Broccoli loves to flourish its roots in slightly acidic to neutral soil, but a slight change brings a disaster.

When the soil gets too acidic, the roots try to feed only on the hydrogen ion, which hampers the uptake of other useful minerals.

broccoli-grown-in-garden-bed
Excess or deficiency of fertilizer can have a negative impact on Broccoli, turning the florets and leaves yellow.

In the case of highly alkaline soil, salts accumulate near the roots and block the passageway of the root.

When the nutrient uptake of the Broccoli does not go its way, they start to turn yellow due to the deficiency of micro and macronutrients.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Test the soil with the help of a pH meter to know whether the soil has turned acidic or basic.
  • Treat the soil with garden lime as instructed in the packaging for highly acidic soil.
  • If the soil has turned basic, apply organic compost to decrease the pH level but not in excess, as compost affects the nitrogen content in the soil.
  • Put the pot under running water for basic soil to remove the extra salts.
  • For ground Broccoli, irrigate the soil with water to leach out the excess salt at the time of alkalinity.

What to Do with Yellow Broccoli?

Finding yellow Broccoli might be distressing, but yellow Broccoli is safe to eat.

Many of us have watched our fresh Broccoli turn yellow even when stored in the freezer, but we cook them afterward by removing the yellowing parts.

Similarly, the yellowing in the pot and garden is also normal, but the taste will vary from green ones.

A plate consisting a dish of broccoli and carrot beside a bowl containing soup of broccoli and yellow pepper is lying over a table
Yellow Broccoli goes well in soup, and green ones are good for stir-fried dishes.

The green parts have a little sweet to bitter taste that is palatable, but yellow Broccoli florets taste more bitter when cooked.

And if you mind seeing yellow Broccoli on the plate, try using them in dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles.

Doing this helps make yellow Broccoli more flavorful than blanched and fried green Broccoli.

If you do not want the yellow leaves, simply discard them since they have already lost nutrients compared to the greens.

How to Prevent Broccoli from Turning Yellow?

After encountering the yellowing of Broccoli, you might not want to face the problem again.

So try to maintain the optimum condition and follow the tips to prevent yellowing from the very beginning.

  • Find a place that welcomes at least six hours of sunlight daily indoors or in the garden.
  • Maintain the temperature within the range of 65ºF-70ºF if you do not want to experience bolting and yellowing in Broccoli.
  • Provide about 1-1.5 inches of water from the soil every week for the best result.
  • Enrich the soil with organic compost before planting the seeds of Broccoli to ensure proper growth.
  • Use nitrogen-rich fertilizer (21-0-0) after four weeks of transplanting vigorous growth and later add 5-10-10 N-P-K fertilizer each month to boost with all nutrients.
  • Broccoli loves slightly acidic to neutral with a pH of 6-7 and moist soil with a proper drainage system.
  • Mulch the area around the Broccoli with straw, hay, or chopped leaves to control the weed and maintain the soil temperature.
Green grasses are used as a mulch for a plant grown in the soil.
Bio-degradable mulches are best for Broccoli as they can act as a cover and compost.
  • If you wish to prune Broccoli, do it at the time of harvesting only to promote the growth of lateral stems.
  • Transplant the Broccoli after it has set at least two leaves and do it two weeks before the last frost.

Conclusion

Broccoli is rich in every source of nutrients, including vitamins, fibers, iron, and potassium, with a low level of calories.

Plus point, Broccoli is easy to grow vegetable.

However, if there is any yellow Broccoli growing in your garden, do not hurry to throw it out but try to make some dishes out of it.

Next time you walk out to the supermarket, avoid the yellow ones to enjoy the savory taste of green Broccoli.

Are you facing yellow leaves in Tomatoes? Learn to fix them!

Keep Gardening!

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