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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

bok choy

Other Common Names Include:

Chinese Cabbage, Chinese Savoy, Pak Choy, Bai Cai, Xiao Bai Cai, Shakushina, Cai Thia, Cai Trang Con

Latin Name: Brassica rapa subsp. chinenesis var. communis

Plant Family: Brassicaceae

Close Relatives: Shanghai pak choy

Uses and Markets: Culinary (used in Asian cuisine e.g. edible leaves and stalks used in soups and stir-fries).  Bok Choy is a non-heading cabbage and is a white petiole version of Shanghai Pak Choy.  Thick and thin petiole versions of Bok Choy exist and can be grown for respective markets.

Bok choy (photo credit: Karin Hildebrand Lau,
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Brassica crops are cool-season vegetables. They perform best at moderate temperatures and can withstand mild frosts.  Low temperatures early in the growing season may cause premature seedstalk development (bolting).  Extreme changes in temperature, poor soil conditions or low nutrient levels also induce bolting.  Bok choy is also sensitive to daylength and will bolt if exposed to long-day photoperiods. 

Propagation method

Direct seed or transplants.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

March - April

Field Seeding Date:

April to mid-August.

Field Transplanting Dates

April to August approximately 4 weeks after seeding when temperature is above 10°C.

In-row spacing

15 cm

Between row spacing

45 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Experience from Ontario field trials suggests that Shanghai Pak Choy requires 90-120 kg N/ha for each planting through the growing season and would be a starting point for nitrogen application when growing Bok Choy.  Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types with good drainage, growing best in muck soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost tolerant

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest


Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest from the same planting; Successive plantings; Multi-cropping possible.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95-100%

Temperature:  0°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 3- 4 weeks

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Cabbage maggot (Delia radicum), flea beetles, swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii), diamondback moth larvae (Plutella xylostella), imported cabbage worm (Artogeia rapae), cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni), tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris), cutworms, leafminers (Liriomyza spp.), aphids, seedcorn maggot (Delia platura)

Diseases: Club root (Plasmidiophora brassicae), downy mildew (Peronospora parasitica), Alternaria leaf spot, Pseudocercosporella leaf spot (Pseudocercosporella capsellae), turnip mosaic virus (TuMV), bacterial soft rots (Erwinia cartovera, Pseudomonas spp.)

Other: none

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Earwigs, slugs,  thrips

Diseases: Bacterial leaf spot (Pseudomonas syringae), black rot (Xanthomonas campestris), damping off (Pythium, Rhizoctonia spp.), Fusarium wilt (cabbage yellows)

Other: none

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: flea beetles, club root, downy mildew. Flea beetles tend to prefer specialty crops (e.g. Chinese cabbage, bok choy, daikon) over traditional brassica crops.  Club root damage will be less when grown during cooler times of the year (e.g. April and Aug/Sept. plantings).  Many specialty Brassica crops are included in Crop Group 5:  Brassica (Cole) Leafy Vegetables.   A complete list of all crops included in Crop Group 5 can be found on Health Canada’s website .  For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For pest control products registered on Brassicas, refer to OMAFRA Publication 838, Vegetable Crop Protection Guide.  For more information on pests of Brassica crops, refer to the Brassica module of Ontario CropIPM on the OMAFRA website.

Downy mildew on specialty brassicaFlea beetle and damage on specialty brassicaDiamond back moth on specialty brassicaImported cabbageworm and damage on specialty brassicaAlternaria on specialty brassicaSpecialty brassica showing symptoms of severe clubroot on the roots (Photo credit: Thomas Gludovacz, University of Guelph) Swede midge larvae on brassica plantSwede midge damage to broccoliCabbage maggot on brassicaCabbage looper larvae
Additional Notes

Due to problems with various diseases and pests, a rotation period of 3 to 4 years without any Brassica crops is recommended.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Loughton, A. et al.  1986.  Vegetable Cultivar Trials 1986.  Horticultural Experiment Station Simcoe, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, unpublished.
  2. Mcdonald, M.R., Kornatowska, B., and McKeown, A.W. 2004. Management of Clubroot of Asian Brassica Crops Grown on Organic Soils. ACTA Horticulture, 635:25-30.
  3. Westerveld, S. M., Bakker, C. J., and A. W. McKeown.  2007.  Vegetable and Non-traditional Crops Research Report 2007.  Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, unpublished.
  1. Allen, J., Fraser, H. and R. Hallett.  2008.  The Swede Midge – A Pest of Crucifer Crops.  Factsheet 08-007, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Queen’s Printer for Ontario.    
  2. Chaput, J. 1998. Asian Vegetables Grown in Ontario, Factsheet 98-033, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 
  3. Chaput, J. and R. Cerkauskas.  2000.  Insects, Diseases and Disorders of Asian Vegetables.  Factsheet 00-095, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 
  4. Chuang, Hsue-Yu., Tsao, Shing-Jy., Lin, Jaw-Neng., Chen, Kan-Shu., Liou, Tsung-Dao., and Chung, Mei-Chu. 2004. Genetic Diversity and relationship of non-heading Chinese cabbage in Taiwan. Botanical Bulletin of Academica Sinica, 45:331-337.
  5. Hill, David E. 1990. Chinese cabbage and Pak Choi trials 1988-89. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment station, New Haven.
  6. Munro, D. B., and E. Small.  1997.  Vegetables of Canada.  NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  7. Ontario Agricultural Value-Added Innovation Network. 2002. Alternative Agriculture.  Brantford.