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

Try to be graceful if you see the head of a Broccoli composed of many small florets turning yellow, as the veggie is still okay to go into your pan.

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

Thus, 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, an annual vegetable, completes its flowering and fruiting cycle in a single growing season. So yellowing in maturity is normal.

When Broccoli ages, the green chlorophyll pigment breaks down, making the xanthophyll pigment more prominent and responsible for the yellow and orange.
Blotched yellow head of Broccoli with its stem attached
If not plucked on time, Broccoli will turn entirely 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. 

So, understand the causes of the Broccoli turning yellow other than the average life cycle.

What Causes Broccoli Plants to Turn Yellow?

The yellowing of the Broccoli plant is common if left unharvested after they have completed flowering as the plant enters aging.

However, premature yellowing indicates a problem with care requirements, some of which are listed below with instant solutions.

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.

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.
  • Keep the plant away from direct sunlight until it recovers, for about a day or two.
  • Cover the Broccoli in the garden with plastic wrap to protect it from direct light until the plant’s green leaves and flower heads revive.
  • For overwatered Broccoli, place the plant over newspaper to dry the excess water.
  • Shift the pot to the southwest direction window to let the sun rays directly fall on it and dry out the water and later shift to the original location.
  • You can make a drainage line beside the cropping area to promote water flow in the ground.
  • If water-logged conditions have prolonged, check the plant’s roots for any rotting, and if any, cut it off.  

2. Improper Lighting

Light is the primary 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.

Due to the breakdown, the pigment responsible for the ripening of fruits gets activated, giving yellow-orange colored leaves and heads to Broccoli.
Yellow flowers of Broccoli attached to the stem
Broccoli loves sunny day temperatures below 80ºF.

Similarly, the soil tends to dry faster if the light intensity increases, making the ground brittle and causing cracks with burnt leaves.

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

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • In warmer USDA zones, 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.
  • Use a grow light, LED light, or fluorescent bulb indoors for at least 12 hours in case of low light.
  • 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.
Excess or fertilizer deficiency 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 with more vegetative growth than flowering growth, and in the lack of enough nitrogen, the head starts to turn yellow.

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.
PhosphorousFaint red discoloration appears at the margin of older leaves.
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, use a balanced fertilizer.
  • 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 when the growth shifts from the vegetative to the flowering 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.

However, some organic varieties like Belstar can handle high temperatures and are 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.

Some significant pests that damage Broccoli seedlings and turn them yellow include caterpillar, cabbageworm, cabbage aphids and turnip aphids.
Seven to eight caterpillars are roaming in the green stems of Broccoli.
Pests attacking Broccoli can even be removed by hand-picking.

The listed pests feed on the host plant leaves and make a window pane appearance on the leaves by obstructing the sap flow.

Moreover, 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 using a hose.
  • Snip off all the damaged leaves from the Broccoli and throw them 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 uncontrollable.
  • 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 in being 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.

The disease of Broccoli surges back if you grow the Broccoli or its related members in the same soil.

Some of the most common diseases include Alternaria leaf spot, Black rot, Club root, and Downy mildew.

You can identify their infestation by looking over the signs like irregular, pale yellow discoloration in the leaf margin and small lesions that turn brown gradually.

Some fungal diseases, like leaf spots, can affect the entire part of the Broccoli, turning them yellow from purplish.

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

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Apply fungicides like bonide and copper-rich fungicides if the spread is beyond control.
  • Remove all the debris from the previous cropping and change the soil to control the spread.
  • Prevent the fungus sporulation by spraying lime at the beginning.
  • Use good sanitation practices and rotate the plant with non-cruciferous crops every two years.
  • Plant pathogen-free seeds.

7. High or Low Soil pH

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 valuable minerals.

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 at a limit, as compost affects the nitrogen content in the soil.
  • Put the pot under running water 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 fridge, but we cook them afterward by removing the yellow parts.

Similarly, the Broccoli can turn yellow in the pot and garden due to the wrong harvesting time and lack of care, but you can still have the dish from yellow ones.

The only difference readily observable is in the taste, as the fresh ones taste sweeter while the yellow ones feel bitter on cooking.

And if you mind seeing yellow Broccoli on the plate, try using them in 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, discard them since they have already lost nutrients compared to the greens.

How to Stop Broccoli Going 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.

  • Place the plant indoors or in a garden with at least six hours of sunlight daily.
  • Maintain the temperature between 65ºF and 70ºF not 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.
  • After four weeks of transplanting, use nitrogen-rich fertilizer (21-0-0) for vigorous growth and add 5-10-10 N-P-K fertilizer each month to boost the growth.
  • 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.
Yellow and green grasses are used as mulch for the Broccoli 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.

From Editorial Team


Broccoli is rich in vitamins, fibers, iron, and potassium, with low calories.

Even yellow Broccoli possesses a similar level of nutrition, with the only difference in the savory taste that is abundantly found in green ones and not in the other.

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