Growing pak choi at home


I studied horticultural sciences at university and in my free time you can find me in my own patch of land, growing anything with roots. I am particularly passionate about self-sufficiency and seasonal food.

Favourite fruit: quince, cornelian cherry and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: peas, tomatoes and garlic

Pak choi is a versatile vegetable with plenty of health benefits, and, with a little know-how, easy to cultivate. Read on to find out everything you need to know about growing pak choi at home.

Harvested pak choi
Pak choi grows quickly and is ready to harvest after about two months [Photo: The Sun photo/]

Pak choi (Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis) looks very similar to chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) but belongs to the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). Like Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis), pak choi, or bok choy, originates from East Asia, and is known as “Chinese chard” and “Chinese mustard”.

Asia cultivates the most pak choi. However, because pak choi is so easy-going, Europe also farms this healthy cabbage variety in Dutch greenhouses year-round. In summer, you can even find vegetable farmers growing pak choi in open fields.

Tip: There are many different varieties of pak choi, each differing in size, shape and colour. Read more about pak choi varieties to discover the best variety for your garden.

Pak choi thrives in high latitudes and grows quickly; usually it is ready for harvest in six to eight weeks. However, there are several things to bear in mind if you are looking to grow pak choi at home. Read on to learn what pak choi needs and how to plant it.

The best location for pak choi

Just like Chinese cabbage, pak choi prefers a sandy loam soil that is loose, easy to root and retains moisture well. In fact, pak choi needs plenty of water and a mild climate to grow well.

Tip: Cabbage hernia is a major problem for pak choi, so never grow it straight after other cabbage crops. A varied crop rotation will best protect your plants against disease.

Sowing and planting pak choi

If you are looking to sow pak choi seeds directly outside, do so from early to mid-July. Place the round pak choi seeds half a centimetre to one centimetre deep into a quality soil. Our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost is ideal here. It nourishes pak choi in its early stages and stores moisture well.

Moisture retention is important, because pak choi seeds must be moist to germinate. After about three weeks, once the seedlings have formed, you can separate them. Keep 25 centimetres between each plant so that they have enough space to grow.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
  • For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

If you would rather pre-cultivate pak choi on a warm windowsill or in a greenhouse – which will protect the plants from adverse weather – sow your pak choi seeds in April. This way, you can transplant the young seedlings by mid-July.

Again, when transplanting pak choi, give each seedling 25cm of room, and apply compost and mulch around the plants to keep in moisture. In midsummer, water them regularly.

Planting pak choi: summary

Planning to plant pak choi? Here are the most important things to remember:

  • From early to mid-July, sow pak choi seeds directly outside, 1cm deep.
  • After three weeks, separate the seedlings. Keep 25cm between each plant.
  • Alternatively, pre-cultivate pak choi in a warm location. Sow the seeds at the end of April.
  • Transplant the seedlings at the end of July, again keeping 25cm between each plant.
pak choi seedling
Plant spring-grown pak choi by the end of July [Photo: Fi Mamat/]

Growing pak choi in the garden

Dwarf pak choi varieties, such as ‘Extra Dwarf’, and green-stemmed varieties, like ‘Mei Qing Choi’ and ‘Hong Tae’, are great for UK gardens. They are easy to harvest, produce a lot of vegetables and grow well in a garden bed or on a balcony.

If you would prefer larger pak choi, look for bolt-resistant varieties, like ‘Joi Choi F1’ or ‘Tai Sai’. When pak choi bolts, which is a natural response to changes in the weather, it puts energy into flower production instead of edible leaf and stem production. As such, bolt-resistant varieties are especially important for a high yield.

If you are instead looking for an eye-catching pak choi variety, reach for the red-leaved ‘Arax’. There are plenty of pak choi varieties for every garden – check them out!

Harvesting pak choi

Pak choi rewards patience with fast growth. Depending on the variety, pak choi plants can weigh anywhere between 500 to 1500 grams.

To harvest dwarf pak choi, grab the secateurs 50 to 60 days after sowing. For larger varieties, wait until 70 days have passed. This means that, for maximum growth, if you sow your pak choi in July, it will be ready for harvest in mid to late September.

Tip: You can harvest an entire pak choi plant in one go, or only harvest its outer leaves, which should have formed rosettes.

In most cabbage varieties, it is best to discard the plant’s woody stems and coarse foliage before cooking. However, for tender, juicy pak choi, these parts are edible! What is more, the plants keep well. You can wrap and store freshly harvested pak choi in the refrigerator for a few days. Or, if you have also harvested the roots, you can store the plant in a cellar for a few weeks.

Asian cuisine relies on a lot of vegetables. Pak choi is just one of many healthy, Asian vegetables you can cultivate at home. Read on to find out more!

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