(Re)growing Bok Choy/Pak Choy from Stalk Scraps

Though I haven’t lost my passion for cooking, instead of new culinary adventures, my mind has recently been all set on gardening (food-related, of course!). “Gardening” sounds maybe too pretentious to describe the plants grown on my small balcony and indoors, but especially at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, it’s so time- and mind-consuming, I almost feel as if I had a real garden. Since most of my plants are edible, I thought some of you might be interested in my limited-space gardening experience.

Today I wanted to share with you a very amusing experiment, similar to the one with garlic chives grown from sprouting cloves (read about it here). After last year’s long and complicated experience with bok choy grown from seeds, I’ve decided to grow it from a bit of stalk. The idea is not mine though; I read about it on many websites, but was quite sceptical… until I tried and it worked! The method is ridiculously easy, lazy, it costs almost nothing (apart from a small portion of potting soil) and you actually use the part of the vegetable you’d throw away anyway! And, like me, you don’t even need a garden! A balcony or a sunny window sill are sufficient. Last but not least, depending on your climate, you can grow bok choy on a balcony in late autumn or early spring, when heat-loving herbs don’t really thrive.

The photograph you see above was taken four days after the stalks were cut off and placed in bowls. Below, one of the bok choys today, after four weeks (already in soil, growing on my balcony):

And here’s a quick reminder of garlic chives grown from sprouted cloves:

TIPS: Bok choy, as well as chives, garlic chives and spring onions are resistant to low temperatures and can be grown on a balcony as soon as night temperatures are above 0°C (32°F).

If the night temperature is still close to 0°C and there are strong winds during the daytime, I advise covering the plants (which were started indoors) with “hoods” made with plastic bubble sheets or special cloches sold in gardening shops. My chives and garlic chives have been growing this way for the past month: the temperatures on my balcony never went under 0°C, even at night.

If you don’t want to spend money on a grow pot (though the most basic plastic ones are really cheap), you can use a big yogurt tub or other plastic food container. You just need to make several holes under it (a heated screwdriver is your friend!) and place it on its cover or a saucer or simply in another tub (without holes).

Many web sources suggest on can easily grow a big bok choy in water only. I’ve noticed that as soon as my bok choy was moved to a pot filled with soil, it started to grow much much quicker. If I try a water-only experiment, I’ll update this post!

Necessary equipment:

potting soil (special soil for indoors/balcony, unless you plan to grow your bok choy in a garden)

one pot per bok choy (12cm/4.7 in diameter should be sufficient)

bok choy stalk’s base (min. 2cm/3/4in high, but don’t waste too much of the stalk! 2cm are enough)

(vegetable fertiliser, it’ll speed up the growth)

Growing method (it should take about 6 weeks):

Cut off the stalk’s base, wash it well to make sure you remove all the bugs (if you buy organic vegetables I bet there’ll be some from time to time!).

Place it in a small bowl filled with water, covering half of its height, preferably on a window sill or any other bright spot indoors.

Change the water every day and cover the whole stalk in water if the stalk absorbs the water quicker (it shouldn’t dry out).

First, you’ll observe tiny leaves growing (as in the first photograph), then, after about a week, small roots will appear.

As soon as the stalk develops roots it should be placed into a pot filled with very moist soil. Simply push it into the soil, so that the roots are completely covered.

Feeding with fertiliser every time you water the bok choy will speed up the growth.

Place the pot on a sunny window sill or on a balcony, if in your region the temperatures at night are above 0°C (32°F) (see the above TIPS). As I’ve mentioned, bok choy (contrary to chillies, for example) can stand low temperatures, as long as it’s not freezing.

I’m planning to cut and eat my bok choy in two weeks (which means six weeks from the moment I placed the stalks’ bases in water).

10 Replies to “(Re)growing Bok Choy/Pak Choy from Stalk Scraps”

  1. What a great post, Sissi. Most of us in North America are so sick of winter that seeing the greens sprouting in your post makes us happy. JT and I just got back from Spain, and although the temperatures were not hot, the sun was shining every single day, and no white stuff!
    About 3 weeks before we left, I tried the same thing with celery root and sure enough, it started to grow but sadly not enough to use, so the day before we left that I had to toss it. But I shall definitely try this technique again. We had so many green onions like this last year, it was wonderful! I had no idea that you could do it with garlic, just be sure to get organic so that it’s not sprayed with chemical anti-sprouting agent.

    1. Hi Eva, thank you so much for such kind words! You must have had a thermal shock after your wonderful trip!
      I’ve also tried this method with other vegetables (a salad and a celery too) and it didn’t work. Now I’m at my 5th bok choy stalk scrap and they all grow tiny leaves after a day or two. Maybe it’s always easier with bok choy? I’ll give however the celery one more chance.
      90% of my vegetables and fruits are organic, unless they are not available (chillies, for example) or unless they don’t taste good (pineapples… difficult to get delicious organic ones here), so I’m used to sprouting garlic. I go crazy when I see the whole head has sprouted but I prefer organic and the chives are the bonus! I must have twenty cloves growing chives at the balcony now.

  2. What I great idea. I have some green onions growing in water but never thought to try growing bok choy. And, I’ve never eaten garlic chives so that’s something I’m going to look for. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn! Well, the chives grown from garlic cloves are in a certain way “false” garlic chives, but the taste and aroma is very very close to the real thing! (And it’s much easier & quicker to grow).

  3. Wow! I’ve never known you could grow pak choi at home. I am terrible when it comes to plants though, except herbs, which grow best when left alone, nothing thrives here. 🙂 The pictures look beautiful, I would be curious to see the plants when they are fully grown.

    1. Thank you so much, Adina (I thought the first photograph was a bit scary… the old leaf bits dry out and don’t look that nice). It’s so easy to regrow bok choy I am still surprised! I’ll post one more photograph maybe in two weeks, when I decide to cut off the bok choy head and eat it, but I don’t intend to wait until it’s big. I prefer small bok choy.

  4. Well, I’m impressed! What a fantastic idea to replant the base of bok choy. I have to try this. I planted seeds for some baby bok choy last week. Still waiting for them to sprout. You also just gave me a great idea with the garlic. I’m going to plant it with my tomato plants. Garlic is suppose to be a natural repellent, so that might work. Love your creativity with all your planting in such a small space. I’d loved to see what all you could do with my garden beds. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. It’s so much fun! I feel like a child making experiments with everyday products… You must plant sprouting garlic (if you have any). I keep on doing it all year long, but it’s especially rewarding in the summer if I can plant it in soil. I would love to have access to your garden beds! I cannot even imagine what I’d grow there!

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