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Growing Collard Greens

Category Vegetables
This hearty, nutritious vegetable is a staple in the southern US, and has its best flavor after the first frost. This guide is about growing collard greens.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
March 16, 2006
Q: I planted my collards in the Spring of 2005 and cut them back in the Fall of 2005. These plants are still going strong. How many years can collard plants grow? Shall I cut them back to the stem again to keep them growing? Would it do any good?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Thanking you in advance.
Holly from Dallas, TX

A: Holly,

Since is doesn't sound like you are looking to harvest the collards over the winter, I would keep cutting them back in the fall the same way you did last year. Collards are usually grown as annuals, but they can also be grown as biennials or perennials in warmer climates. They can survive temperatures to the upper 20s-even cooler if they are located in the right microclimate.

I've heard of them growing for several years before tiring out. Collards taste best during the cooler parts of the season, especially right after a light frost. This is because the plant responds to cooler temperatures by moving water from the leaves to the roots, which concentrates the sugars in the leaves and ultimately gives them a sweet flavor. You can get this same "sweet" flavor in the heat of the summer if you pop the whole plant (stems and all) into the freezer for about 10 minutes. You end up sacrificing the plant, but you get leaves with that post-frost sweet flavor.

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Answers

February 26, 20060 found this helpful

Hey Holly,
Just make sure you don't let them go to 'seed'.
It will make a flowering stem right out of the center and this will signal the plant to try to die. Just cut it back. It will also change the flavor of the collards ...not as good . I've had plants come back for several years in the garden even after being plowed under, they would grow sideways, crooked... lol... So keep it trimmed and you should keep getting leaves off of it for many years, at least. Hopefully more. And a frost makes them taste better, but be careful of a deep freeze. It may kill it. Just cover it like you would your other plants.

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By Jannie (Guest Post)
March 3, 20060 found this helpful

My neighbor has some collards that have been growing for about 20 years and they are better tasting every year. Good luck...

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By Sharon (Guest Post)
August 16, 20060 found this helpful

Yes, I have had the same results by repeatedly pinching off the flower stalks for many years now and it works great. The plant can become like a small tree often times with many plants sprouting from the same stalk. Quite unusual as a striking yet still productive curiosity.

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June 22, 20061 found this helpful
Q: I am growing collard greens and have many, many plants. I pick and cook the leaves regularly. Recently, I have noticed that 3 of my collard plants have began to go to seed and have beautifully yellow blooms from the seeds. How do I get these seeds and plant them so they can make more collard green plants? Is it too late after the blooms develop or can I cut of the bloom with stem and plant in the dirt? Please help.
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Thanks,
Sheryl

A: Sheryl,

If you want to save the seeds from your collard greens, just leave some of the flowering plants alone to form seed pods. You'll be able to identify them easily once they form because they look almost like green beans. In fact, some people even eat them. The pods can be left to dry right on the plant in the same way you would leave bean pods to dry. Once dry, store them in a paper bag until you plant them. Cutting off the stem of the plant while it's blooming and planting it won't work. Collard greens are best grown from seed or by purchasing seedlings inexpensively from a nursery.

Good luck!
Ellen

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By Anna Marie (Guest Post)
May 18, 20060 found this helpful

Just wait and watch. The flowers will produce seeds. Wait until they are just dry and take them for use. Depending on where you live, you may want to wait to replant as they probably won't appreciate the summer heat.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 2, 2017

Do I need to cut collard greens at the top with flowers growing in the middle or leave them.

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April 3, 20170 found this helpful

You can pick the leaves as the plant grows, always cutting off the ones at the bottom of the plant. As the inner stalk continues to grow upwards and produce more leaves, your collard plant will eventually look like a little tree with a bare stem at the bottom and leaves on the top. They will start to get top-heavy towards the end of the season and may require support.

For more information on growing collard greens, check out:

http://www.gard  /collard-greens/

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April 3, 20170 found this helpful

Your collard greens are bolting. It may be hot where you live. Cut the flowers off. The plant will use its energy to make flowers, not vegetables.

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April 4, 20170 found this helpful

I have grown some nice collards and I never topped them. I always let them go to seed for next year.

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Attosa is right. Start picking the leaves from the bottom. However, the first 5-6 leaves should be picked and thrown away. This will add more strength to the other leaves, provide better air circulation and help keep down the collard maggot.

The article stated to plant seed shallowly. This may be true, but collards need to be planted deeply. The plants of shallowly planted seed would need to be transplanted deeper. I bury all of the seedling except the two top leaves, having torn the others away. This makes for a stronger, better plant. I learned this from my ag agent.

Judy is right as well. Collards are a cool season crop and grow best in Fall. Summer heat will cause them to bolt. I plant mine as early as possible in the Spring so they mature before extreme heat sets in. The picture shows them growing along side snow peas which I planted in February.

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May 1, 20170 found this helpful

Can you cut collier greens and re plant

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May 20, 20090 found this helpful

I planted Collard Green seeds last year in early Fall. The plants came up and I did not cut them down as usual. They survived the winter and now have grown to about five feet tall with yellow flowers on top. What should I do? Should I cut the flowers to promote leaf growth? Will cutting the flowers kill the plants?

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Hardiness Zone: 7a

By James Jones from New Haven, CT

Answers

May 20, 20090 found this helpful

You can cut the flowers off. It will not hurt the collards. They will keep growing, enjoy, good luck.

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May 22, 20090 found this helpful

I think that your collard greens will be tougher than usual.

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June 21, 20160 found this helpful

Should I cut flowers on collard greens

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By 0 found this helpful
September 15, 2016

I planted some Georgia collards and the leaves on some of the plants are turning beige and withering up. Do I cut off the leaf or leave it on the plant? Thanks.

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February 27, 20170 found this helpful

It sounds like your plants are struggling, posslby under some pest or disease. Here is a site that discusses different things you can do: https://www.pla  uses_propagation

the symptoms you describes sound like fungus: "Alternaria leaf spot FUNGUS
Alternaria spp.
SYMPTOMS

Brown to tan concentric rings with yellow edges on leaves; centers of lesions developing gray to brown soft fungal mold; brown to black lesions with a black border on roots

COMMENTS

Disease emergence favors warm, wet conditons

MANAGEMENT

Plant only pathogen-free seed; rotate crops; applications of appropriate fungicides control disease when present"

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February 27, 20170 found this helpful

You may need to fertilize them.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 6, 2014

When the flowers come on the top of collards are the green leaves still good to eat?

By Colonel

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April 14, 20140 found this helpful

Usually when garden plants flower and bolt, they aren't eaten because they turn bitter. If you don't mind bitter greens, go ahead and eat them.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 23, 2011

I planted collard greens and mustard in the early summer. Can I pick and cook them now?

By Jane K.

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July 27, 20110 found this helpful

Yes, your plants should be large enough by now. I always select a few leaves from the bottom and add to my salads, or steam the collard greens. Yummmm! You can also start new plants now to harvest throughout the winter months if your zone allows. I live in Zone 7 and have a year-round garden. I actually enjoy the winter garden best, no bugs and a wonderful mixture of greens!

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By 0 found this helpful
May 13, 2010

I planted collard greens about a month ago. They look ready to pick, how will I know?

Hardiness Zone: 10a

By jeanne from Sun City, CA

Answers

May 14, 20100 found this helpful

I pinch the leaves off & cook them any time I want some, you can ad a little sugar to them while cooking, taste them before serving, good luck.

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January 17, 20140 found this helpful

I planted collards the first of September and did not harvest. It is now the middle of January and the leaves have turned a light brown, sorta purple. Are they still good to harvest?

By Dwight

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October 8, 20130 found this helpful

I'm a first time gardener. I planted collards and cabbage this fall. They are really doing great! My question is at the bottom of some plants near the soil, the leaves tend to turn yellow. I was wondering whether they are getting too much water or not. I water every evening when the sun goes down. Thx.

By Nadine D

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August 18, 20130 found this helpful

I planted a couple of mustard and collard greens and some have already popped out of the soil with two little leaves. I was wondering if they need any special lighting or do they just need warmth or the sun?

By Daniel from Weslaco, TX

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August 12, 20130 found this helpful

I planted a couple of mustard and collard greens and some have already popped out of the soil with two little leaves. I was wondering if they need any special lighting, or do they just need warmth, or do they need the sun?

By Daniel

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May 5, 20130 found this helpful

I live in West Virginia. I bought collard plants the first of April and planted them. They have been growing for about 4 or 5 weeks. Now they are starting to bloom and the plants aren't that big. Should I cut the blooms off? Will the plant continue to have the large leaves after blooming?

By Karen

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April 22, 20130 found this helpful

My husband planted Georgia hybrid collards last October. They are about 3 1/2 feet tall. Can I still prepare the leaves and which ones? I have not harvested any of it yet. We live in central Florida. They are nice looking. Thank you.

By Lucy

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April 8, 20130 found this helpful

I am in Virginia and my collards lasted through the winter into this spring. They are still small in size and look great. Are they still good?

By Dia

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September 3, 20120 found this helpful

My collard green stalks are getting soft and rotting out before the season is over. It is now only the first of September. What could be causing this to happen?

By Clarence

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May 8, 20110 found this helpful

My dad has always had the most beautiful collard plants. He is trying to harvest his own seeds now. Any details? How long do you dry the pods? How long is the seed good? What's the best way to dry the pods? I need any advise and/or information.

By Brenda from Natchitoches, LA

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By 0 found this helpful
November 5, 2010

Is November too late to plant collard greens?

Hardiness Zone: 9a

By sonya from Baker, LA

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 13, 20100 found this helpful

I always heard that it is best to pick collard greens after the first frost.

Woody from NC

Answers:

Collard Greens Harvest

This is true. The first frost makes the collards sweeter. I sometimes buy my collards fresh and stick them in the freezer. When I'm ready to cook them I just take them out of the freezer, defrost them, wash them, and cook them. This makes it easier to wash them, too. The collards shrink and get limp so the dirt washes right off. This method also makes them easier to get into the pot. (04/18/2007)

By EnSusie from Buckhead, GA

Collard Greens Harvest

Yes, better after a frost, but I wouldn't avoid them until a frost. Just know that they can be on the strong/bitter flavor side and use less in a mixed recipe. (04/19/2007)

By Holly

Collard Greens Harvest

Before the frost sweetens them, pick only young, small leaves. I usually buy ham hocks as soon as I can get a big batch, and simmer them all day together. Then I freeze the extra for other times. (04/20/2007)

By Coreen Hart

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May 20, 20090 found this helpful
By Ellen Brown

Q: The older the collard plant, the smaller the leaves. I planted a collard plants this Spring. Can I get the Fall season out of it by cutting it down to the ground? My location is Dallas, TX.

Thanks for your input,
Cookwie

A: Cookwie,

You can certainly try it, but it really depends on how much the plant has already produced for you. You're right, though, this late in the season the leaves will definitely be smaller. As long as the plants haven't flowered, they may continue to sprout leaves from the sides of the stem. Cut the plants back when they are about half grown, and when harvesting take only the lower leaves to keep the plant growing and producing more leaves. Because of your location, you probably still have time to sow new seeds for a second season Fall crop (50-60 days to adult plants) if you plant them now.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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