Types of Cauliflower: 17 Different Cauliflower Varieties You’ll Love
Thinking of planting some cauliflower in your garden this season but aren't sure which variety is the best to plant? There are many different types of cauliflower that grow well in many different climates. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey examines all the different cauliflower you can plant in your garden.
A staple in your cool-season garden, cauliflower is among the most versatile of vegetables. Delectably creamy when pureed and crispy when roasted, this brassica-family crop yields great rewards in return for a bit of space and effort. But not all cauliflower is created equal: the perfect cauliflower crop starts with quality seeds of a variety perfectly suited to your climate and culinary tastes.
These gorgeous florets come in an array of cultivars that are difficult (if not impossible) to find in grocery stores. Although cauliflower has a reputation for being a little more challenging to grow in the garden, specialty varieties of purple, orange, and fractal-green heads make it oh so worth it.
Plus, modern breeding efforts have yielded superior heat tolerance, self-blanching heads, disease-resistance, and exceptional vigor for your most resilient brassica patch yet. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at growing cauliflower, you’ll have to check out these top 17 best varieties of cauliflower for the garden.
- 1 Choosing Your Cultivar
- 2 Choosing Varieties by Climate
- 3 Top Varieties of Cauliflower
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Final Thoughts
Choosing Your Cultivar
Selecting the ideal cauliflower cultivar for your garden comes down to four main factors:
- Your climate and growing season
- Self-blanching versus tying
- Disease pressure
- Your culinary preferences
Choosing Varieties by Climate
Brassicas are notoriously difficult to grow in hot weather, however there are a few bolt-resistant and heat-tolerant cauliflower varieties out there (‘Cheddar’ and ‘Fioretto 70’).
When choosing your seeds and planting dates, remember that certain cauliflowers are bred for planting at a certain time. Spring cauliflower performs differently than summer and fall cauliflower. Avid cauliflower gardeners often prefer to succession plant different varieties for a continuous supply.
Another thing to keep in mind is that plants tend to go to seed quickly in hot summer weather. It also becomes a lot more susceptible to annoying pests like aphids when under heat stress. To make matters worse, sudden heat spikes can lead to “ricey” curds that don’t have that perfect creamy cauliflower texture you crave.
Needless to say, cauliflower is a bit of a diva, which is why you need to be sure you get the right cultivar for your region. Ideally, cauliflower should be grown in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, or winter in mild climates.
Quick Tips Based on Climate
- If you live in a cold northern region, search for extra cold-hardy cauliflower types.
- For those in the south, be on the lookout for heat tolerance to avoid “ricey” curds.
- If you feel nervous about cold or hot temperature swings, just go for a sprouting cauliflower so you don’t have to worry so much about heading up. We love ‘Fioretto’.
- For exceptionally wet or humid springs, you may want to opt for one of the disease-resistant hybrids we’ll explore below.
White cauliflower turns yellow when exposed to the sun. Traditionally, farmers would tie the tops of the outer leaves to protect the growing head and keep it white. Some newer varieties have been bred to “self-blanch” by growing large wrapper leaves that naturally dome around the head to protect it from the sun. These are also called “self-wrapping” types.
You can learn more about tying versus self-wrapping in our massive cauliflower growing guide.
If you want pearly white cauliflower, you can save yourself some trouble by selecting self-blanching cauliflower varieties like ‘Twister’ or ‘Skywalker’. You don’t have to worry about sun-yellowing in any of the purple, orange, or green varieties.
Being a brassica, cauliflower is unfortunately subject to a range of diseases such as powdery mildew, club root, black rot, and black leg. Thankfully, most seed lots from reputable sources are tested for those last two. The others are best prevented by choosing disease-resistant varieties like ‘Paxton’.
This is especially important if you live in a moist, humid climate with lots of spring or fall rains.
The best disease-resistant cauliflower varieties are hybrids, however there are plenty of options for those who prefer open-pollinated and heirloom types as well.
Hybrid cauliflowers tend to have the greatest disease resistance, yields, and tolerance for temperature stress. Keep in mind that hybrid cultivars are not GMO; they are actually the result of crossing two inbred parental lines for ultra-vigorous offspring. This is done through traditional breeding out in the field (not in a lab).
Hybrid cauliflower is widely available as certified organic seed. This makes it great for those starting an organic garden. The only downside to hybrid varieties is that, if you decide to save their seeds, they won’t replant true to type. But this isn’t typically a problem for cauliflower since you’re going to chop that head and eat it long before the plant sets seed.
Do you like to chop your cauliflower or roast it in long tender sticks? Do you prefer vibrant purples or classic white? What about texture: do you like smooth loose curds or denser tight florets?
If you’re bored with regular old white cauliflower, you’ll be glad to know that there are specific cultivars for each of the above flavor preferences and beyond! Let’s dig into our top 17 favorite varieties of cauliflower!
Top Varieties of Cauliflower
The diversity of cauliflower seeds in gardening catalogs seems to grow every year. Trial one or more of these varieties in your garden to see what does best in your unique conditions.
As its name implies, ‘EarliSnow’ is one of the first cauliflowers to be ready to harvest in the spring. It is the earliest, most consistent and dependable white cauliflower for the first succession of the year. The medium-sized plants have an average leaf wrap (may require a little extra coverage to ensure pure whiteness) and yield solid medium cauliflower heads.
‘EarliSnow’ is an F1 hybrid with phenomenal vigor. It matures in just 45 days and is perfect for impatient gardeners wanting to get a head start in the spring. This cultivar has also been trialed for fall production and performed very well.
The classic early cauliflower, ‘Snow Crown’ is a staple for avid brassica gardeners. This hybrid has some of the best seedling vigor, resulting in fast-growing robust starts ahead of all the other brassicas in your spring nursery.
At 50 days to maturity, ‘Snow Crown’ yields medium-sized heads for summer harvest or fall plantings. It tolerates moderate frosts down to about 25°F, making it perfect for northern gardeners. The only downside to this variety is its tendency to get purplish coloration when it is stressed by lack of fertility or inconsistent moisture. If you don’t care about pearly white looks, then this small quirk won’t matter one bit!
If the early white cauliflower varieties are starting to blur together, just know that this one stands out for its ultra-large 9” diameter heads and excellent flavor. This cauliflower maintains its superb flavor when refrigerated or frozen, however it is coveted for fresh eating and pickling. The heads are firm with tight curds and pure white color that rival even the best farmer’s market cauliflowers.
‘Early White’ thrives in the cool weather of spring or fall. This hybrid takes about 52 days to mature and plants grow up to 30” tall and . Be sure to provide plenty of space!
With a name like this, you better hope it performs! ‘Amazing’ is amazingly adapted to both heat and cold stress. It was bred for late summer and fall plantings. The plants are medium-sized and yield nicely domed cauliflower heads with self-blanching upright wrapper leaves to keep them nice and white. The curds are solid, tight, and resist getting “ricey” (even in hot weather!)
‘Amazing’ is an open-pollinated variety that takes 68 days to mature.
‘Twister’ has the twisty wrapper leaves that are most coveted by farmers and avid gardeners. Basically this plant was bred to have the most curled and upright self-blanching leaves to protect the developing cauliflower from sunshine and yield the highest quality heads.
This F1 hybrid is adapted to a range of climates. It performs excellently in summer and fall in the Midwest and Northeast or late June through October in coastal California. It’s perfect for winter plantings in the desert south. 62 days to mature from transplants. Plant with ‘Mardi’ for the ideal succession.
If you’ve got a bit of patience, ‘Symphony’ will reward you with the biggest cauliflower you’ve ever seen! At up to 1 foot in diameter, these plants yield tremendous heads that take about 96 days to mature. What they lack in earliness, they make up for in sweetness, texture (no hollow stems), and size.
Perfect for impressing your neighbors and gardener friends, ‘Symphony’ cauliflower is a sight to see in the garden and in the kitchen. This variety requires a long season and needs to be planted by late May and harvested in the fall.
The first purple cauliflower I ever saw caught my attention right away. The deep purple coloration was striking in the garden and later in my dinner. It was ‘Graffiti’: arguably the original purple headed cauli. This variety is a staple for farmers trying to spice up their farm stand or gardeners who want to make a gorgeous crudite platter.
‘Graffiti’ plants are quite large and require plenty of space. They are best for fall harvests. In about 80 days, this hybrid yields medium to large-sized domed heads with medium-tight curds and varying shades of dark purple hues.
This hybrid is the hallmark of culinary foodie scenes for good reason. It’s dazzling bluish-violet curds have a buttery texture and subtly sweet-nutty flavor. If you sprinkle it with lemon or vinegar before cooking, ‘Depurple’ keeps its color when boiled, roasted, or pickled. The high anthocyanin content (from the deep coloration) makes for an antioxidant and nutrient-dense ingredient as well as a conversation starter.
‘Depurple’ is a hybrid early cultivar for spring or fall production. It takes about 68 days to grow its heavy, large heads (7.5 to 8” in diameter) which sometimes range from rose pink to dark purple depending on the temperatures and conditions. Plants are highly adaptable and resilient.
With the perfect dome, medium-tight curds, and soft pale purple color, ‘Lavender’ cauliflower truly comes off the plant as gorgeous as it sounds. This variety is my favorite for dipping platters because it is eye-catching, low-bitterness, tender-textured, and delicious when eaten raw.
Compared to ‘Graffiti’, these heads tend to be brighter violet colored in the fall, but paler in the spring. Overall, it performs best for late summer plantings and fall harvests. ‘Lavender’ is an F1 hybrid that takes 70 days to mature.
Few people have had the fortune of experiencing cheese-colored cauliflower. But with all the rage on dairy-free quesos, ‘Cheddar’ has a growing fanbase. These lovely orange heads hold well in the field and produce early on in the summer. They start out pale yellow-orange and get brighter when lightly cooked. They look gorgeous on a platter or in the garden alongside ‘Lavender’ and ‘Vitaverde’.
‘Cheddar’ does not have great heat tolerance, so this variety is best selected for late summer sowings and fall harvests. It is an F1 hybrid that takes 58 days to fully mature medium-sized orange heads.
‘Flame Star’ delivers on color and resilience. This pastel orange cauli has the best heat tolerance of the orange varieties. It will yield well in both spring and fall plantings. The plants are medium-to-large and require plenty of space. However, they are worth the extra few inches thanks to their resistance to stress and willingness to perform in less-than-optimal conditions.
Great for beginners to the colored cauliflower world, ‘Flame Star’ is a hybrid that takes 62 days to harvest.
‘Clementine’ offers the brightest, most eye-popping orange curds, but on a slightly smaller head. This variety is uniform, stress tolerant, and holds well in the garden. In all honesty, it’s quite similar to ‘Flame Star’ except it takes a few more days to mature and produces vibrant glowing orange heads. The plants are quite leafy and don’t require any extra attention to protect the developing cauliflower inside.
Finally, a mid-season type! If you’re a gardener who really craves cauliflower in the summer, ‘Mardi’ is the variety for you. This organic hybrid is bred to resist a little bit of heat and is ideal for spring or fall plantings (though it still performs best in the fall). The heads are ultra smooth, creamy and buttery-textured, and quite heavy. They hold well in the garden if you need to put off harvest for a few days.
In good soils (learn more about cauliflower’s favorite planting conditions here), ‘Mardi’ produces excellent self-blanching wrapper leaves that lead to pure white heads. This cultivar takes about 62 days to mature and is best adapted to northern regions.
Another middle-of-the-road variety, ‘Synergy’ is often planted with ‘Snow Crown’ to offer a successional harvest. The plants are sturdy and large. Heads are well-domed, pearly white, and self-blanching.
‘Synergy’ is best planted in the fall, but also suitable for spring. This hybrid takes 60 days to produce dense, medium-to-large cauliflowers.
We can’t talk about cauliflower varieties without mentioning the most ravishing, unique, and eye-catching cauli cousin of them all: Romanesco! These fractal-like spiral heads are grown exactly like cauliflower, yet yield stunning heads reminiscent of a green cauliflower or broccoli that took magical mushrooms. But don’t worry, ‘Puntoverde’ has the classic nutty cauliflower taste and an adaptable texture that cooks perfectly in roasts, sautés, and soups.
‘Puntoverde’ is by far the best-performing Romanesco on the market. Great for fall crops, this variety can also produce a good summer yield as long as there isn’t any extreme heat. In areas with mild winters, you can also plant the rugged ‘Puntoverde’ for early spring production. These plants are notoriously strong and resilient to stressful weather. They take about 78 days to develop their medium-sized fractal-filled heads. The color ranges from lime green to chartreuse and stays that way when cooked.
If you like the idea of lime green cauliflower, but prefer not to experiment with the pointy heads of Romanesco, then ‘Vitaverde’ will please you in the garden and the kitchen. This F1 hybrid produces well in cool and warm weather. The heavy, large green heads mature fairly early (71 days) atop large, well-branched plants. You can plant ‘Vitaverde’ in spring (if you have moderate summers), fall, or mild winters.
For southern gardeners or those who crave cauliflower in the summer, a sprouting cauli like ‘Fioretto 70’ will help you get your brassica fix without worrying so much about bolting and weird-shaped heads. Sprouting cauliflower is beautiful and flavorful, plus its oh-so-easy to cook with. Instead of forming tight curds on a classic head, this variety yields nice tall cauliflower sprouts reminiscent of broccolini or broccoli raab.
An Italian classic, ‘Fioretto 70’ takes just 70 days to harvest. It can be picked anytime as the stems reach toward about 8” tall. It doesn’t just tolerate, but requires, moderate heat (although excessive heat can lead to purpling or uneven growth). The ideal temperature when sprouting is 60-80°F.
‘Fioretto’ is easy to cook thanks to the long tender stems and no-mess preparation. Pair sprouting cauliflower alongside sprouting broccoli on the grill for a show stopping summer treat without having to worry about picking whole heads.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of cauliflower?
Cauliflower comes in a range of colors and shapes, including white, green, purple, and orange heads, as well as sprouting cauliflower and the fractal-shaped Romanesco or “broccoflower”. All of these varieties have similar flavors and growth habits, but they are bred for unique pigmentation and performance in the garden.
How many types of cauliflower are there?
There are dozens and dozens of varieties of cauliflower available in modern seed catalogs. From lavender-purple heads to long sprouting stems to orange-yellow pigments or the classic white, cauliflower has been bred for unique colors, flavors, textures, and growth habit in the garden. When choosing the best type of cauliflower for you, pay careful attention to whether a variety is an early-season (spring), mid-season (summer), or late-season (fall) planted type.
Do different cauliflowers taste different?
Different varieties of cauliflower have subtle flavor distinctions. Some are more nutty and sweet, whereas others are more neutral or cabbage flavored. Generally, cauliflower is creamy when pureed and crispy when roasted. The most prize-winning cauliflowers in taste tests include ‘Early White’, ‘Depurple’, ‘Puntoverde’, and ‘Fioretto 70’. All types are willing to adapt to the flavors of any dish.
Cauliflower is a bit more finicky than other crops, but it’s well worth the effort when you choose a variety that suits your climate and culinary desires. No matter which variety you choose, make sure you have basics of growing cauliflower down, and you’ll have a vegetable that can be a joy to plant in the garden. Cauliflower is a bit more advanced when it comes to gardening, so you can always stick to other crops in the same family, like different varieties of kale or growing some collards.