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How to Grow Chinese Cabbage

By Karen Ellis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Chinese cabbage

Chinese cabbage, also called snow cabbage, is a leafy vegetable used most often in Chinese cuisine. The most common variety is pekinensis, also known as Napa cabbage, bok choy or pac choy. This cabbage is a cold-weather vegetable, meaning it must be grown in cool temperatures during a long growing season of 50 to 85 days. Coastal locations are ideal for growing Chinese cabbage because the sea breezes keep the plants cool. In other locations, sow seeds four to six weeks before the last frost, so you can harvest before the outside temperatures reach above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the soil for planting. Use a shovel to break up the soil. Remove any rocks or debris. Mix in compost for a nutrient-rich soil.

Construct a garden row. Choose a full-sun area for cool climates and partial shade for warmer climates. Make two parallel lines, with your hoe, about a foot apart. Let the soil fall to the inside, creating a mound. The row may be as long as you like.

Plant each seed 4 inches apart down the mounded garden row. Push each seed about a half-inch down and cover it with soil.

Thin by pulling out seedlings when they reach about 3 inches high. Keep the healthiest plants at about 12 to 18 inches apart.

Water plants often to keep them moist. If they become too dry or hot they may bolt (go to seed).

Use a sharp knife to cut the Chinese cabbage heads at the ground level. This vegetable is ready for harvest when the heads are firm, compact and between 15 and 18 inches tall or per package variety directions.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Hoe
  • Chinese cabbage seeds
  • Sharp knife


  • Choose disease-resistant seeds to assure your Chinese cabbage plants don't fall prey to diseases.

About the Author


Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.