How do you Grow Collard Greens?
This can be a difficult question to answer for beginner gardeners because of complex factors like weather, soil, and pests.
This article will help solve this problem and give ALL experience levels of gardeners Easy-to-Follow Tips on growing collard greens from seed.
And I recommend scrolling to the bottom of this page to find answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions most gardeners have when growing collard greens.
Tip #1: Choose THESE 3 Collard Greens
While there are hundreds of varieties of lettuce you can grow, I am recommending 3 kinds to choose from.
- Traditional Southern Variety
- Sweeter after frost
- Tender, waxy leaves with a sweet, cabbage flavor
- Harvest when leaves becomes 12 inches long
- Heirloom Type of Collard Green
- Waxy, Blue-Green Leaves
- Produces a loose head like cabbage & slow bolters
- Harvest when plant grows 24 to 36 inches
- Dark-Green Leaves with a mild, cabbage like flavor
- bolt and frost-resistant
- Used for Southern style greens
- Takes 75 days and 24 inches tall
Tip #2 Starting Seeds Indoors
Because of its ability to withstand low temperatures, growing collard greens from seed can happen indoors and outdoors. Please read below for instructions on how to grow collard greens from seed both indoors and outdoors.
Step 1 – Begin Planting Seed 6 weeks Before the Last Frost
You will want to start your seeds inside approximately 6 weeks before you plan on moving your collard greens into your garden or moving your planter outside.
- You will first want to start by buying your seed. I recommend buying from Amazon because it is quick and inexpensive.
- You will then want to take 3-inch GrowKo Peat Pots and fill them up to approximately 80% full with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
- Next, spray your soil 5 to 8 times with a spray bottle. You will want the soil to be moist, not damp. Damp soil can cause unwanted fungus.
*Find Your Last Frost Date HERE*
Step 2 – Lightly sprinkle 4-5 Seeds Per Pot
- Because of how small collard greens seeds are it is sometimes to grab the1 or 2 seeds and plant them. Instead, sprinkle 4-5 seeds per pot about 1/8 inch deep and then gently brush the soil over the seeds. *Note, it is ok if more than 5 seeds fill a hole.
- Then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times until it turns a dark color.
The video below also gives a great tutorial on how to plant seeds.
Step 3 – Provide Your Seeds with At Least 8 Hours of Sunlight
- After planting your seeds, provide at least 8 hours of sunlight by placing the pots by a window or a Grow Light if your windows do not receive enough sunlight.
*If you put your seeds closer than 4 inches they will burn and die. If you put them further away than 4 inches there is a chance they won’t get enough sun to germinate.*
You will also want to keep the room temperature between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. With that being said, you can even grow collard greens seeds in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This is the temperature needed so that your seeds can turn into plants.
If you don’t have an area that will stay consistently around 50-65 degrees, I would recommend investing in a Plant Heating Mat.
- A Plant Heating Mat is the perfect way to keep your pots and seeds at a consistent temperature that we may not otherwise be able to.
Step 4 – Spray, Spray, Spray
After your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day for approximately 10 days.
It will take approximately 10 days for your seeds to germinate or “pop” through the soil.
Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted through the soil, you will want to continue to spray them twice a day for 4 more months until they are ready to transplant outside.
Step 5- Prune & Transplant your Collard Greens Plant into a Larger Pot
Once your collard greens grows for about 3-4 weeks you can either begin to thin it to allow only one plant to grow or keep all plants in the pots. If you keep all plants there is a chance that they will not grow as full as just one collard greens.
You can do this by taking scissors and snipping the smaller of the plants right at the soil line. This will allow the healthier collard greens plant to grow to its full potential.
Next, you can transplant your collard greens plant to a 5 Gallon Nursery Pot.
Again, you will want to fill these pots about 80% full with your potting mix.
Next, you will want to make a hole approximately 3 inches deep (about the size of your collard greens plant at this point).
Then turn your existing small pot upside down, pinch the bottom of it, and then gently pull the soil and your plant out.
You will then place it in your 5-gallon pot and fill it with soil.
Immediately after you do this, spray the soil about 5 to 10 times.
You will then want to leave your collard greens in this pot until it is ready to transplant outside.
Step 6 – Introduce your Collard Greens to Outside Weather
This next step is what most beginner gardeners miss, but is critical to your success.
For about two weeks, you will want to slowly introduce your collard greens to the outside.
On the first day, you will want to place your collard greens (still in its pot) outside in direct sunlight for approximately 2 hours.
Each day thereafter, place the Collard Greens outside for an additional hour until you build up to 6 straight hours.
Tip #3: Transplant Collard Greens Outside
Once the last frost of the year has happened you can transplant your Collard Greens outside. If you transplant your collard greens before the last frost it may die. To help prevent this I recommend planting it in a raised garden bed.
- Related: Best Raised Garden Beds
Below, is a 2 step process for transplanting your Collard Greens outside into your garden.
Step 1 – Do THIS if you will be keeping your Collard Greens in its container all summer!
If you decide to keep your Collard Greens in the pots then there is no need to transplant. You will only need to apply compost or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- Apply approximately 1/4 inch of potting mix to your planter
- As soon as you apply your fertilizer make sure to water the Collard Greens for approximately 15 to 30 seconds
- Every week until harvest water your Collard Greens twice a day and keep it in full sun to promote fruit growth.
If you want to learn more about growing Collard Greens in containers, I recommend watching the below video:
Step 2 – Do THIS to Transplant your Collard Greens into your Garden!
- About 1 month before you plan on transplanting your collard greens into a garden dig holes about 8 inches deep and filling it with compost. Space holes 12-18 inches apart.
- Dig your holes in an area that will receive partial shade.
- Then after the last frost transplant your collard greens into the garden exactly the same way you transplanted it into the larger pots.
- Immediately after you transplant your collard greens outside add
Miracle-Gro Plant Food and water the soil for about 30 seconds.
- Finally, water your collard greens once a day for about 30 seconds. Continue doing this until you harvest your collard greens mid-summer.
- Related To: Best Garden Hoses
Tip #4: Starting Collard Greens Seeds in a Garden
Collard Greens is one of the easiest vegetables to grow outside, no matter where you live.
Whether you do not have the ability to start your seeds indoors or just want to start your seeds directly in a garden then I recommend following the below directions:
Step 1: Start Your Seeds After the Last Frost
You should always start your collard greens seeds after the last frost. Collard Greens seeds will germinate best at temperatures between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
With that being said, they can even grow in weather as low as 40 degrees!
If you want to know your last frost date then I recommend Clicking HERE.
Step 2: Plant Your Seeds This Way!
Once you decide to start seeds outside you will want to do the following simple steps:
- Find a location that is partial shade and cooler and has a pH level between 6.0-7.0.
- Dig 1/8 inch holes with the tip of your finger or a pencil.
- Keep holes approximately 2 feet apart to allow for the most collard greens grow.
- Lightly sprinkle 4-5 collard greens seeds in each spot. It should be noted that not all seeds will germinate and you can always thin your plants out after they grow.
- Lightly cover your seeds and spray 8-10 times until the soil turns a dark brown color.
Step 3: Continue Watering your Seeds
After you initially plant your collard greens seeds you will want to water them 2-3 times a day until the soil is dark brown.
You will do this until the seeds germinate and then continue doing this until they become at least 3 inches tall.
*If the weather is hotter than usual for your garden then you may need to water several more times a day then described above.
Tip #5: Effectively Care for your Collard Greens THIS Way!
Below are caring tips for your Collard Greens throughout the summer:
- Keep Your Soil Healthy – Quickly inspect your soil for fungus, harmful insects, and weeds before you plant and throughout the summer. Remove and replace it with new soil as needed.
- Water the soil, not the plants. By watering leaves, you increase the risk of spreading fungus and other diseases. Do not overwater as it will increase the likelihood of disease.
- Remove diseased and dead plants. This is the easiest way to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. If you notice yellow spots on leaves it means you may have blight fungus and will want to remove the leaves.
- Plant your collard greens at a new spot yearly. This is key to preventing seasonal diseases and insects from attacking the same plants year in and year out.
- Prevent Insects. The best way to prevent them is through an insecticide. If you don’t want aphids, slugs, or cabbage worms ruining all your hard work I recommend purchasing Garden Safe Pesticide
Tip #6: Effectively Harvest Collard Greens THIS Way!
Below are several tips to remember when harvesting collard greens:
- Harvest your Collard Greens 3 to 10 weeks after planting.
- Harvest your collard greens frequently. This will help thin it out, ensure the best flavor possible, and helps to prevent seeding.
- Always pick your collard greens where it meets the stalk.
- Pick your collard greens from the outside to the inside.
Frequently Asked Questions (5 Questions)
1. What are the best ways to store collard greens?
Below, will give you several guidelines to store collard greens longer:
- Once you harvest your collard greens it will store at room temperature for only 1-day maximum.
- If you wash your collard greens and place it in a zip-lock bag your collard greens can last 2-3 days.
- If you wash your collard greens and place it in a zip lock bag with several layers of damp paper towels your collard greens can store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
2. What are the Best Uses for Collard Greens?
There are numerous uses for collard greens in food. Below, are some of the best ways to use collard greens:
- Fried Collard Greens
- Sandwiches and Wraps
- Related: Best Collard Greens Recipes
3. What type of Collard Greens Seeds should I Use?
There are four types of seeds that can be used to grow collard greens; heirloom, organic, hybrid, and GMO.
I recommend using Heirloom or Hybrid seeds. Gardeners do not have access to GMO seeds and organic seeds is a marketing term and not truly a type of seed.
- These seeds contain all the collard greens original traits and produce some of the most beautiful and best-tasting collard greens out there.
- The downside of this seed is that it is the costliest (due to its rarity).
- In addition, expect the least amount of yield from this type of seed due to susception of disease and other elements.
- Hybrid seeds were made from combining the genes of the same group of plants. This is not a bad thing.
- This type of seed is what most gardeners use when learning how to grow collard greens from seed.
- The goal with hybrids is to produce a plant that contains the best features of both parent plants.
- This seed is critical if you want the most resistant plant against mother nature’s elements, insects, and diseases or want the most yield!
4. What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use for My Collard Greens?
The best type of fertilizer for collard greens is compost.
- Related: Ultimate Composting Guide: What to Compost
- Related: Yimby Tumbler Composter: 5 Reasons to Buy Today
And if you don’t have the time or ability to create compost then I recommend buying Miracle-Gro Plant Food for your collard greens.
5. What Type of Soil Should I Use for My Collard Greens Plants?
If you will be keeping your collard greens plants in containers all year then you will want a well-draining potting mix that provides the correct amount of nutrients like Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
If you will be planting your collard greens into a garden then you will want to add a nutritious garden soil mix into the ground, such as Miracle-Gro Expand N Gro