Home > Around the Home > Grow Your Own Cotton

Grow Your Own Cotton

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 19 Jan 2016 | comments*Discuss
Grow Your Own Cotton

Cotton grows is the most common textile fibre grown in the world. When grown non-organically, cotton growing uses an enormous amount of water and chemicals to produce a decent crop. By growing your own cotton, you will help reduce the impact industrial cotton growing has on the environment, and set yourself a fun and exciting challenge in the process.

Cotton is not normally grown in the UK. It is used to hot, wet and humid conditions and a long, sunny season in order to produce its fluffy cotton heads. However, it is possible to grow cotton in a greenhouse or polytunnel if you live in the south of the UK. For the best results, grow it in a good, fertile soil, and a warm, humid spot in a south-facing position undercover.

Getting Started

To grow cotton you need a well-prepared soil incorporated with plenty of rich, organic matter such as homemade compost or well-rotted manure. Dig the ground thoroughly, to at least 5cm below the surface of the soil. Remove all weeds and traces of weed roots, and any large stones. Add several forkfuls of compost or manure to enrich the soil with the nutrients needed to grow cotton successfully, and rake the soil level.

Sowing Cotton Seeds

Fasten a piece of string the length of your bed to two pieces of stick, or twig. Mark out a straight line along your bed, using the string as a pointer. Create a drill (small furrow) in the soil by dragging a swan-necked or draw hoe in a straight line along a the length of the string. If you are making more than one row, space them roughly 45cm apart from each other. Then water the drill before sowing the seeds.

You can also grow cotton in containers. Fill a large container with grit, soil and compost or manure and water the surface.

It’s important to check the soil temperature when growing cotton, as the seeds won’t germinate below temperatures of 14°C
(58°F). Use a soil thermometer and ensure the soil is warm enough up to six inches below the surface. If the soil temperature is sufficiently high, sow your cotton seeds 2.5cm deep in groups of three. Space the stations 10cm apart (if growing your cotton in a container, ensure adequate spacing or grow one station of three seeds per pot).

Watering Your Cotton Plants

After you have planted the seeds, you should not water them until approximately five weeks after the plants have emerged. From then on, water the young plants once every ten days.

Then, roughly 16 weeks after sowing the seeds, stop watering the plants altogether. This causes the cotton plants to dry up and shed their leaves. The pods, or cotton balls will then burst open, revealing cotton fibre, which should be left to dry.

Harvesting Cotton

Your cotton will be ready to harvest when all of the cotton balls, or pods have opened, and the cotton fibre inside has been allowed to dry so it is fluffy in texture.

Growing cotton in the UK is a challenging, but fun and worthwhile pursuit. As long as you have a south-facing position and a good greenhouse, you should try growing your own cotton.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
We need some more cotton to be picked down here in the South of the United States of America. We lack the manpower though. Cri cri
Jim Crow - 19-Jan-16 @ 9:15 AM
Hi,I would like to know how/where I can get training on how to grow cotton especially in green houses. I live in Kenya. Any help on this will be highly appreciated.
Gasherry - 8-Jul-11 @ 4:20 AM
Well written article on how to grow cotton. I planted some from MRC seeds and it was wonderful. You need to start indoors in a container.
Bob - 14-Mar-11 @ 4:44 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Baz
    Re: Keeping a Pig
    When buying pigs do you have to buy two or would they be ok on their own
    11 September 2017
  • Coconut down South
    Re: What You Can't Grow
    Coconut down south is lit man. I grow it every day it is great!
    4 July 2017
  • Patsy
    Re: Foraging for Berries
    I'm thinking of making elderberry jam. Can this be made from elderberry syrup or concentrate, instead of picking the berries?
    3 March 2017
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: Keeping a Pig
    Phil - Your Question:? About how much space do you need for a pig to roam (run?) around in - assuming you are feeding it scraps etc. and not expecting
    23 February 2017
  • Phil
    Re: Keeping a Pig
    ? About how much space do you need for a pig to roam (run?) around in - assuming you are feeding it scraps etc. and not expecting it to forage for…
    22 February 2017
  • Jean
    Re: What You Can't Grow
    Hi has anyone tried to grow coconut down south in uk
    6 July 2016
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: What You Can't Grow
    Jim - Your Question:Can anyone recommend a hardy tea variant that might thrive in East Anglia?Our Resp
    16 May 2016
  • Jim
    Re: What You Can't Grow
    Can anyone recommend a hardy tea variant that might thrive in East Anglia?
    15 May 2016
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: Getting an Allotment
    Faye - Your Question:How do I put my name forward for an allotmentOur Response:The article will
    27 April 2016
  • Faye
    Re: Getting an Allotment
    How do I put my name forward for an allotment
    26 April 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GoSelfSufficient website. Please read our Disclaimer.