Growing Pak Choi in Containers is super easy! It is an ideal vegetable for gardeners as it grows quickly and doesn’t take a lot of space!
Pak choi is a cabbage family plant that grows best in moderately cool weather like other brassicas. It is one of the varieties of Asian greens and is also known as Chinese white cabbage. If you too want to grow this quick-growing vegetable, then here’s all the information on Growing Pak Choi in Containers.
USDA Zones: 3-11, pak choi is a biennial crop in its favorable climate but can be grown as an annual in all the zones. Timing and growing season may differ.
Other Names: Brassica rapa var. Chinensis, Chinese Chard, Chinese Cabbage, Chinese Celery Cabbage, Chinese White Cabbage, Bok Choy, Buk Choy, Pak Tsoi, Petsai, Mustard Cabbage, Pac Choi, Soup Spoon, 上海青
Learn all about growing cabbage in containers here
Pak Choi (Bok Choy) Types
- White Stemmed: Also known as Chinese white cabbage, it can be cooked or eaten raw.
- Green Stemmed: Also famous as Shanghai Pak Choy, it tastes best in salads and stir-fries.
- Soup Spoon: It is also called Baby or Squat bok choy. Tastes best in soups and salads.
Best Pak Choi Varieties
A report published on the Iowa State University website talks about the most productive and best pak choi varieties.
1. Joi Choi: Joi Choi has white stems and large dark green leaves. It is resistant to bolting and cold temperatures. It is one of the two main cultivars that produced the highest yield. It matures within 45-55 days.
2. Black Summer: The Black Summer is light green stemmed variety and bolts slowly in the heat. It does not take more than 45 days to reach maturity. Not to mention the fact that it produced the highest number of marketable heads in research.
3. Feng Qing Choi: Feng Qing Choi is a very productive variety. It is a hybrid and has green stems. It is very slow to bolt. It takes no more than 45 days to reach maturity.
4. Mei Qing Choi: Mei Qing Choi is one of the best pak choi varieties. It is very productive. It is a dwarf green stemmed pak choi that is resistant to cold, heat, and bolting. Good for impatient container gardeners as it doesn’t take more than 35-40 days to reach maturity.
5. Win-Win Choi: This white stemmed pak choi variety is a hybrid. It does not grow more than 10-12 inches. Plant it if you want a bumper harvest. It takes about 50-55 days to reach maturity.
How to Grow Pak Choi in Containers?
Growing Pak Choi from Seeds
- Sow the seeds 1/2 inch deep directly in the desired pots 1 inch apart or use the seed trays and sow 2 seeds in each cell.
- Within 4-8 days, they will germinate.
- Thin the unwanted seedlings and transplant them when they grow about 2 inches tall.
Tip: As you are growing pak choi in containers, you can also buy young plants from a nearby nursery or online.
Start off seeds indoors by planting 4-5 weeks before the last frost you expect. To make things easier, wait until the last frost prediction date is over to sow the seeds directly and keep the pots outside.
The late planting will also help you in stopping the premature bolting of pak choi as young plants exposed to frost or a nighttime temperature below 10 C (50 F) continuously bolts prematurely.
You can also start the pak choi plants in late summer or fall (autumn) and keep sowing seeds until a few weeks before the expected first frost. Because you can harvest this fast-growing vegetable as early as 4 weeks, it’s possible to grow it in cold frames and indoors until late fall.
If you live in a warm, frost-free climate (USDA Zones 10-12), grow pak choi in fall, winter, and early spring.
When young plants are exposed to frost and cool temperatures, they start to bolt as soon as the temperature rises. To prevent this, begin transplanting or keeping your containers outdoors when the nighttime temperature starts to stay above 50 F (10 C).
This procedure will help in reducing the transplanting shock, which causes premature bolting.
Space the plants according to the variety you are growing. For dwarf pak choi varieties, 3-4 inches of spacing is sufficient. For larger varieties, maintain a minimum of 6-8 inches of space between each plant.
Choosing the Container
Choose a container that is 6 inches deep and as wide as possible for growing dwarf or baby pak choi. If you are growing full-sized pak choi, use a container that is 8-10 inches deep.
Wide rectangular window boxes are great for this purpose, or you can choose small separate pots with a diameter of 6-8 inches for one single plant.
Requirements for Growing Pak Choi in Pots
Pak choi grows well in part shade. So choose the spot that is partially sunny. However, if you live in a really cool climate or in the weather where the intensity of sunlight is low, increase the exposure to the sun.
If you live in a hot climate, provide more shade. For example, if your area falls in USDA Zone 11, only 3 hours of direct sunlight is enough.
For growing pak choi, use a well-draining, quality potting mix rich in organic matter. Soil texture must be crumbly and loose with some water holding capacity as it prefers a lightly moist growing medium.
Avoid soil that promotes clogging and thwarts the drainage, which leads to waterlogging. It prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soil, and the ideal soil pH is between 6 to 7.5.
It prefers slightly moist soil so never let the soil dry out completely. Regular watering and sufficient moisture level are the keys to success when growing pak choi, especially when the temperature warms up.
Avoid wetting the foliage, overwatering, and water stagnation as it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.
Tip: Premature bolting and less juicy leaves can be the signs of insufficient watering.
The optimum temperature for growing bok choy is between 55 F to 75 F (13 C to 24 C). However, it can grow when the temperature ranges from 30 F to 90 F (10 C to 32 C).
It can tolerate light frost and temperature below 30 F (0 C) for some time. Bok choy can also tolerate heat and temperature around 90 F (32 C).
Tip: As you are growing bok choy in containers, you can easily maintain the temperature when it goes down by providing warmth and protection. Similarly, provide more shade and moisture in higher temperatures in hotter areas.
Pak Choi Care
Growing pak choi is not difficult, and no special care is required. Regular watering, choosing the correct variety, timing, and best soil are the key to a bountiful harvest.
Apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote vegetative growth. You can add balanced slow-release fertilizer at the time of transplanting, it will provide the constant supply of nutrients at a slow rate.
Feed the plants with fish emulsion, compost, or manure tea after 10 days of transplanting and when they complete half of their growth. If in case you are not adding slow-release fertilizer, feed with liquid fertilizer at regular intervals.
Tip: Pak choi benefits from frequent light feeding instead of one heavy fertilization.
Pests and Diseases
Pests such as cabbage loopers and worms can cause damage. Flea beetles chew off the leaves, making small holes in the leaves can also be the problem. Common garden pests like whiteflies and aphids also attract towards it.
The biggest advantage of container gardening is you can easily keep an eye on them and knock them off before the infestation.
Harvesting Pak Choi
You can start to harvest tender bok choy leaves as soon as 3-4 weeks after their emergence. Cut the outer leaves carefully and let the inner leaves thrive. For harvesting whole heads, wait for 45-55 days, depending more on the variety. Cut the whole plant at the soil level and use it accordingly.
Tip: Bok choy bolts to seed quickly when the temperature soars up. So make sure that you harvest the plant before the hot weather perks up. Do succession planting for the constant pak choi supply. Sow seeds every couple of weeks.