Growing Bok Choy From Seed

Overview

In the garden, bok choy joins robins and crocuses as early harbingers of spring. This fast-growing member of the Brassica family (generally cabbages) flourishes in cool weather and can be sown in-ground after the last frost. Miniature versions are ready to pick within 30 days, and larger versions seldom require the full 50- to 60-day maturity period. Start seedlings indoors for even faster results.

Step 1

Select a well-drained, sunny area to direct-seed bok choy early in the spring. Create furrowed rows or broadcast seed, covering it with 1/4 inch of fine soil. Water regularly. Expect germination within seven days. Thin your full-sized seedlings to 6 to 12 inches apart (thinnings can go into a stir-fry or salad). Thin baby varieties to 3 to 6 inches apart. Plants are best harvested whole rather than leaf by leaf.

Step 2

Start bok choy seeds indoors two to three weeks before the last hard frost date in your area. They can be seeded into seed-start mix or regular potting soil. Cover seeds with 1/4 inch fine soil and water regularly. If you are starting seeds in a warm window or atop a radiator tray, place folded newspapers under the tray to insulate the plants from excessive heat, which can stimulate legginess. Seedlings will be ready for transplant within three weeks.

Step 3

Sow a second crop of bok choy seed late in the summer for fall harvest. Select the coolest section of your garden; heat produces rapid bolting in bok choy. Keep the plants well-watered.

Step 4

Experiment with indoor sowing for a winter crop of bok choy. Indoor heating provides plenty of warmth; position grow lights high so that they do not contribute more heat. Germination and maturity may take a bit longer than sowing outdoors.

Step 5

Monitor bok choy frequently to prevent plants from bolting. A couple of warm, sunny spring days are enough to trigger flowering. The leaves of plants in full bloom will begin to wilt and become bitter-tasting. Do not panic, though--all parts of the bok choy plant are edible. Cut bolted plants, flowers and all, into salads or stir-fries.

Things You'll Need

  • Bok choy (also spelled pak choi or pac choi) seeds
  • Well-drained soil
  • Peat pots or seeding containers if starting indoors

References

  • Seeds and Seedlings
  • Post-Spring Seeds
Keywords: growing bok choy, from seed, spring, fall, winter

About this Author

Janet Beal has written for various websites, covering a variety of topics, including gardening, home, child development and cultural issues. Her work has appeared on early childhood education and consumer education websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University and a Master of Science in early childhood education from the College of New Rochelle.