Growing Chinese Cabbage

Bok choy growing in a field.
There are several varieties of cabbage referred to as Chinese cabbage, such as Napa cabbage or bok choy. These cabbages are a great choice for your kitchen garden. Then all you will need are some delicious recipes. This is a page about growing Chinese cabbage.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
April 16, 2006
Chinese Cabbage

Botanical Name:

Brassicas rapa var. pekinensis


Chinese cabbage is an Asian variety of cabbage with long, crisp, mild-flavored, pale-green to white leaves. It is also known as napa or celery cabbage and bok choy.

Planting Time:

Ideally, Chinese cabbage should be planted so that it grows and matures during cool weather-year-round in tropical zones, winter through spring in warm zones and spring through summer in cooler zones.


full sun, but tolerates partial shade; protect from cold winds and frost


deep, well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.


Sow seeds directly into the soil thinly and at a depth of 1/3 of an inch.


Frequent watering will help plants mature faster, taste better and help prevent them from going to seed (bolting) during dry spells. Avoid watering leaves directly to reduce the likelihood of fungal disease.


Seedlings should be thinned to 5 to 8 inches apart once they form two true leaves. Cabbage love fertile soil so side dressing with compost or an organic fertilizer is recommended.

Harvesting & Storage:

Cut the heads to the ground during dry weather, usually 2-3 months after planting, before the appearance of seed stalks. They will stay fresh for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Diseases and Pests:

All members of the cabbage family are subject to a variety of diseases. The best defense is crop rotation and good cultivation practices.

Tips to Success:

As the heads reach maturity, bind the leaves around the heads and secure them with string or rubber bands or cover the entire plant with an open-ended box. This will blanch the inner leaves and keep them tender and white.
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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.

April 28, 2015

Do Chinese cabbages grow well in volcanic soil and tropical climates, in areas around the equator? I know they're a cool climate produce, but there should be a way.


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
November 4, 20170 found this helpful

I live in a tropical client and we grow Chinese cabbage here. The only thing you need to worry about is the slugs eating the leaves of the plant.


Other than this you'll need to water it twice a day during he really hot month of the year.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
November 5, 20170 found this helpful

I would shade the plant with a light fabric during the hottest part of the day. Mulch it so it retains the water

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February 6, 2012

I woke up this morning to find that my seedlings were eaten by a certain bug. What should I do, even though I did not see any trail of snails.

By Dee T from Wanganui, New Zealand


February 8, 20120 found this helpful

I have had the same problem with some of my fall greens--kale and mustard specifically, but have had good success from two products: a Safer brand spray and a solution of water and Neem Oil. I tried each on separate plants, and both seemed to slow down or stop the creative lacework some little feller was doing on the leaves.


I never saw a snail trail, bug or other perpetrator, either. I'll take a closer look at the instructions and get back to you. If you have a good, organic gardening Website, you might also look for a pepper spray recipe.

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May 22, 2010

I would like to know how to grow Pak Choi successfully.

By brian wilkinson from Great Wakering, Essex


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May 28, 20100 found this helpful

Bok choi seeds

Organic compost

Step 1 Select a place in the garden to grow bok choi. The area should be sunny, but sheltered from harsh elements. About two weeks before planting, enrich the soil with organic compost.


Step 2 Decide on a variety of Chinese cabbage and purchase the seeds. This is a matter of personal taste. Orient Express, for example, has small, round heads. Dwarf and Extra Dwarf Bok Choi are very small and good for gardens with limited space. Red Choi is beautifully colored.

Step 3 Plant the bok choi seeds directly in garden and cover them with 1/4" of fine soil. If the seedlings emerge too close together thin them so that they are about 8-10 inches apart.

Step 4 Water bok choi regularly. They have short roots and need water more frequently than other plants.

Step 5 Harvest bok choi by picking the outer leaves as needed. Otherwise, the whole plant can be harvested when it reaches 12-18" tall.

Tips & Warnings
Start a second crop in late summer for a fall harvest. Bok Choi can be planted indoors and then transplanted outside. The small plants can withstand light freezing. Bok Choi will go to seed quickly in hot weather. It can also rot in warm, humid weather. Try to harvest it before summer progresses. Good luck.

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