Brussel sprout plants can be split up based on how long they take to reach maturity: early, mid-season, and late season varieties. Most late season varieties take longer to reach maturity and handle cool weather well.
Newer hybrid varieties of brussel sprouts have become the go to choice for brussel sprout farmers since the 60’s. The newer hybrid varieties produce uniform plants that are easier to harvest by machine.
Another way you might see brussel sprout varieties divided is into dwarf/short plants and tall plants. The taller plants are also preferred by commercial growers because they’re easier to harvest.
How Many Varieties of Brussel Sprouts Are There?
There are hundreds of brussel sprout varieties that exist but only around 20 or so that are readily available for us gardeners to grow.
A company called Bejo Seeds has done work to cultivate a new hybrid variety of brussel sprouts with great flavor pulling from a pool of hundreds of old varieties of brussel sprouts it had catalogued.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway has at least 83 different varieties of brussel sprouts stored. These all came from one shipment of over 1,000 seeds from the UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick. I can’t find more information on it but it’s probable the global seed vault has more varieties of brussel sprouts stored from other sources.
The following is a list of more common brussel sprout varieties that are available to us gardeners.
- Hestia – This is a newer hybrid variety of brussel sprout that tolerates cool and warm temperatures and so can be grown throughout a longer growing season allowing a grower to get in two crops in one season. However, it will deliver a sweeter flavor if it finishes up in cooler weather. It has a bright green exterior and dense yellow interior.
- Churchill – This popular variety is well known as an early season brussel sprout that can grow in a wide variety of climates. This variety is good to get brussel sprouts early in the season but not as good to leave on the plant for a long time as the weather cools to try and get sweeter brussel sprouts.
- Diablo – This little devil is a heavy producing hybrid variety is known to hold well in the field making it a good choice for a late season harvested brussel sprout.
- Catskill – This is an heirloom variety first introduced in 1941. It is a shorter brussel sprout plant reaching about 24″ tall on the high end and is known to produce uniform plants and consistent yields making it a popular variety for home gardeners.
- Red Rubine – An heirloom variety that produces red brussel sprouts. These purple/red sprouts are full of anti-oxidants.
- Long Island Improved – This is another heirloom variety gaining popularity around 1890. This was the commonly grown commercial variety of brussel sprout before modern hybrid varieties were created in the 1960’s. It’s another compact brussel sprout plant and consistent yielder.
- Jade Cross – Early maturing hybrid that produces consistent abundant yields of dark green sprouts.
- Evesham – A compact plant that produces an early crop of abundant tightly packed sprouts. It is an English cultivar and popular in the UK.
- Red Bull – This variety produces purplish/red brussel sprouts that have a more mild and nutty taste. Fall frosts deepen their color and they keep their color when cooked.
Best Tasting Brussel Sprout Varieties
I couldn’t find much information on which brussel sprout varieties taste the best and think the jury is still out on this one. Try a few different types and decide for yourself.
A couple of things that may be of interest to you are brix levels. These levels dictate the taste and nutrition levels of all produce and can be influenced and measured by home gardeners.
Also of potential interest to you is this article that talks about a chemical compound in brussel sprouts and other veggies from the brassica family that makes some people dislike these vegetables and doesn’t affect other people.
Why Are My Brussel Sprouts So Small?
Brussel sprouts can form into small sprouts if they ran out of growing season. If the weather gets too cold before brussel sprouts reach their full size they will be small. Alternatively if the brussel sprouts form while the weather is too hot they can form inot loose collections of leafs instead of densely packed sprouts.
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