Growing Bok Choy

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Help Desk Request:  While I'm not a new gardener, I'm trying to grow a cold-season vegetable garden this year for the first time. One veggie I've also planted for the first time is Bok Choy. It doesn't look very good, my seedlings have thin stems, and they keep falling over. Am I growing at the right time? Would you please provide me with some guidance to assure I'm doing it right?

Bok Choy Seedlings
Bok Choy Seedlings
Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting UC Master Gardener Program about your Bok Choy seedlings with stems that are thin and falling over. The initial plant leaves which have long stems will change as they mature. Bok Choy seedlings require that they remain moist, not overwatered, and they should not be allowed to dry out. Temperature, either too warm or prolonged cold, could also affect the growth of the seedlings. Bok Choy requires about 8 hours/day of sun, which may be hard to satisfy in winter and may require supplemental light, e.g. a grow light over the plants in a greenhouse.

This link is on vegetable gardening in Contra Costa County. This document tells you the right season to plant Bok Choy in Central and East County.  MGCC's West County planting guide can be found at

The following link is to a Santa Clara Master Gardener handout which lists the varieties of Bok Choy and how they grow, e.g., Pat choi variety do not germinate well, but there are other varieties that do germinate well.

In answer to your question regarding when to plant your Bok Choy seedlings, we would also refer to the planting guides above. A UC link on planting of cabbage (Bok Choy is related to cabbage as a member of the Cole family). You also want to remember to put your seedlings out to harden them to the outside before you plant them in the soil. The link describes transplanting and what the seedling should look like:

This link is a general link about cabbage (fertilizing, watering, pests).

Good luck with your Bok Choy. Please contact us if your have further questions.

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (DLD)

Note:  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 608-6683, email:, or on the web at MGCC Blogs can be found at You can also subscribe to the Blog  (//

By Steve I Morse
Author - Contra Costa County Master Gardener