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Why Do My Cabbages Have No Heart

You may be so excited when you first plant your cabbages. You’ll have your fresh cabbage in just a few months! When your cabbage isn’t growing as well as you expected, you may begin to fret and wonder: why do my cabbages have no heart?

Cabbage plants will not have a heart – also called a head – because of inadequate growing conditions, including water, temperature, pruning, and the amount of nitrogen in the ground. Your cabbage plant may also suffer if there is pest damage early on. 

Cabbage plants will not grow well if they are not grown under the right conditions. We’ll look at why your cabbage doesn’t have a heart and more about how cabbage grows under the proper conditions. Look at this article to learn more about why your cabbage plants don’t have hearts. 

7 Reasons Why Your Cabbage Doesn’t Have A Heart

There are multiple reasons why your cabbage plant may not have a heart; in fact, a few of these could work together to prevent your cabbage from having a heart. 

Cabbage Isn’t Getting Enough Water

Cabbage plants need an ample amount of water. 

If cabbages do not get enough water, then you’ll see your cabbage is not growing tight heads of cabbage.

Here is a chart to give you an idea of how much water a cabbage should be given to grow well:

Amount Of WaterAdditional Notes
Less than 1 inchYou can get away with less water if you had a rainy week. This means that you will not overwater your cabbage.
1-1.5 inchesThis is the perfect amount of water when you are not getting additional rainfall. 
1.5 inches or more When you start to give your cabbage plants more than an inch and a half of water, you will verge on overwatering your cabbage plants, which is not good either.

Too Much Nitrogen

Cabbage plants can suffer when they get too much nitrogen, which often happens due to overfeeding. 

When there is too much nitrogen in the soil, that promotes the growth of leaves but not a tight cabbage heart.

It sounds good that your cabbage plant will grow leaves, but those leaves will not form a round or oval cabbage heart. 

Too much nitrogen will make your cabbage plants look like romaine lettuce rather than a cabbage head. 

Early Damage From Pests

Garden pests can seriously damage cabbage plants, even from an early stage.

Cutworms can be devastating to a cabbage plant.

A cutworm will stick close to the soil, which is not suitable for a young seedling. Cutworms can drill right through the stem of a cabbage plant and any small, young leaves.

Cutworms can be difficult to spot because they will usually feed during the night; you may not even know that cutworms are around until the damage is done.

Cabbage Was Pruned Too Much

Pruning can affect how your cabbage grows.

In most cases, pruning your cabbage plant is a good idea, but if you get too happy with a pair of scissors, you can ruin your cabbage heart.

Most websites tell you to snip away outer leaves while your cabbage plant grows.

A newbie gardener may not know exactly what or how much to cut, and early pruning can ruin your cabbage plant from growing.

The Ground Around The Cabbage Was Too Loose

Cabbage plants need to be packed tightly in the ground. Loose dirt can damage your cabbage heart.

This tip is a little harder to find online, but it is essential to note.

Cabbages need to be planted in firm soil, so you need to pack the soil down after planting your seedlings and as your cabbage continues to grow.

A few pats with your hands isn’t going to the job. You can:

  • Carefully step on the ground around your cabbages
  • Have your kids step on the ground too
  • Pat the shovel firmly with a shovel
  • Drive over the dirt with a wheelbarrow 

The Cabbage Grew In Warmer Weather

Cabbage is a cool-weather plant, so warm weather can impact how the cabbage grows.

Cabbage forms looser heads when the weather is warmer, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Most seasoned gardeners know that cabbage grown in warm weather will be leafier than a cool weather cabbage. 

In this case, there is little that you can do other than know that you are getting a slightly different kind of cabbage than in the cooler months.

The Temperature Isn’t Right

Cabbage needs the right temperature to grow.

Cabbage can take a relatively large spectrum of temperatures when it is growing.

If you grow your cabbage in the cooler months, you should not try to grow cabbage when temperatures are consistently below 45 degrees—cabbages like cool weather, not cold weather.

In warmer months, remember that cabbage plants also don’t like to grow in temperatures over 80 degrees.

In either case, cabbage hearts will suffer since the growing conditions are not the best for the cabbage plant. 

How Long Does It Take For A Cabbage To Heart

Cabbage hearts won’t be noticeable for a few weeks, so let’s go through the early growing process of a cabbage heart, so you know what to watch out for. 

Age/Growing StageWhat Cabbage Looks Like
SeedlingThere will be no cabbage heart when the cabbage is a seedling. There will only be a few leaves on the plant. 
Week 1-3Small leaves start to curl around a short, thick stem. At this stage, the head will be small and barely noticeable. 
Week 4-6Cabbage heart begins to form and continues to get larger as leaves grow. Leaves will continue to curl inward to form a round head. 
Week 7-10Cabbage heart continues to mature until picking after about 3 and a half months. 
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