Types of cauliflower: purple, green & white varieties


As a horticulture student I mainly studied crops and cultivation techniques. It fascinates me how many diverse plants can grow from small, nearly identical seeds.

Favourite fruit: blueberries, grapes, raspberries, pears
Favourite vegetables: mushrooms, peppers, kohlrabi, onions, garlic

In addition to the classic white cauliflower, coloured cauliflower varieties are becoming increasingly trendy for growing in your own garden. It is important to consider the growing needs when choosing a variety.

Harvested cauliflowers
This is how you know it from the supermarket, but cauliflower does not have to be white [Photo: Lisa Mar/ Shutterstock.com]

The many varieties of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) differ mostly in taste, colour, and harvest time. Of course, to start growing cauliflower, you must first choose one of the many varieties. Read on to find out about the different types of cauliflower and how they differ.

Types of cauliflower: how many are there?

It is impossible to give an exact number here. However, as the cauliflower has been bred for centuries, it is reasonable to assume that there are hundreds of different types and varieties of cauliflower. Generally, a distinction is made between white and coloured varieties.

colourful cauliflower florets
These cauliflower florets have not been dyed; They are just different varieties [Photo: Pixel-Shot/ Shutterstock.com]
  • White cauliflower varieties: These varieties are among the most widely sold and grown in the UK, both in private gardens and in commercial cultivation.
  • Coloured cauliflower varieties: Yellow, green, and purple cauliflowers are more nutritionally valuable than their white counterpart due to a higher concentration of vitamins and other elements, and they look quite pretty too. The colouring of these varieties is caused by exposure to sunlight, which causes pigments such as beta-carotene to develop in the cauliflower. If the cauliflower is green, it does not indicate that it is not yet ripe. Colourful types of cauliflower, by the way, have a more intense flavour than white cauliflowers.

Tip: Even white cauliflowers do not stay completely white under strong sunlight. Cover these varieties to prevent cauliflower sunburn.

Colourful cauliflower varieties
Colourful cauliflowers are becoming a popular veg to grow in the garden [Photo: Pixel-Shot/ Shutterstock.com]

The best cauliflower varieties for the garden

Cauliflower seeds are available locally at gardening stores or online. When choosing a variety, keep the following criteria in mind.

Selection criteria for cauliflower varieties:

  • Colour
  • Growing time
  • Growing season
  • Cold tolerance of early and late varieties
  • Vernalisation reliability, i.e., the cauliflower also produces heads
  • Resistance to diseases

Here are some cauliflower types to give you an idea of the enormous variety available. The seed packet has detailed instructions regarding sowing and harvesting. We have summarised everything you need to keep in mind when harvesting cauliflower in our article harvesting, freezing, and storing cauliflower.

White cauliflower varieties

  • ˈAlphaˈ: a proven universal variety suitable for both early and late cultivation; relatively robust.
  • ˈWalcheren Winterˈ: is also suitable as a winter cauliflower variety in mild areas; Plant in July to August and harvest in April. It tolerates moderate frost, nevertheless a protective fleece is advisable in winter.
  • ˈSnowballˈ: this heirloom cauliflower is an early variety with smaller heads; yet, it has low requirements and is therefore well suited for the home garden.
  • ˈMulti Headˈ (F1): is an unusual cultivar that can be harvested several times because it produces one large head and three to five side heads. It is also known as the ‘cut and come again’ cauliflower. Harvesting the main head also helps the secondary heads to grow. Harvest from August to October.
  • ˈNeckar perleˈ: a favourite of amateur gardeners due to its delicious flavour and extended harvesting period; medium to late cultivation.
  • ˈTabiro’: a hardy, self-covering variety for autumn cultivation; mild-aromatic taste.
  • ‘Autumn Giant Cauliflower’: the name says it all – large, very firm heads; long harvesting period and suitable for late cultivation.

Colourful cauliflower varieties

  • ˈCheddarˈ (F1): yellow cauliflower; newer cultivar with yellow-orange heads, particularly rich in beta-carotene.
Yellow Cheddar cauliflower
The ˈCheddarˈ variety has a similar colour to the cheese that gives it its name [Photo: Gurcharan Singh/ Shutterstock.com]
  • ˈDi Sicilia Violettoˈ: has purple heads with grey green leaves. Purple cauliflower is very popular in Italy due to its intense and aromatic flavour. It is suitable for late cultivation and is harvested in autumn.
  • ˈGrafittiˈ: violet to purple cauliflower variety suitable for both summer and winter cultivation. Very aromatic; turns green when cooked.
  • ˈGreen Treviˈ F1: one of the few light green cauliflower varieties; late cauliflower with high yield; ideally suited for autumn cultivation.
  • ˈMarches Greenˈ: a more intensely flavoured lime green cauliflower from Italy; suitable for early to medium cultivation. Remains green even after cooking.
Purple cauliflower variety
When cooked, it turns green, but it can also be eaten raw [Photo: Peter Turner Photography/ Shutterstock.com]
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