Ornamental Cabbage and Kale for Your Garden

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Lawn & Garden

The ornamental cabbage and kale are a great addition to any cool season garden. These fancy-leaved cousins of our familiar vegetables make a bold statement with their colorful leaves. They can even be eaten, but the cabbage has a bitter taste and the leaves turn gray when cooked. They are tolerant of mild frosts and can add color to your garden all winter long in mild climates.

The ornamental cabbage and kale plants have bold, round shapes and their center leaves, not flowers, are what color up in cool or cold weather. They can grow up to 18 to 24 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches tall.

These plants are primarily used in the fall because the period of cool weather in the spring is too short after hard freezes have ceased. They can be grown in large pots with a soil mix and fed weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer. You can transplant them to the garden or display container in September, but make sure to remove any tatty bottom leaves before transplanting. Plant them into the ground so that the crown of leaves is flush with the soil surface and roots will grow along the buried stem.

You can start new ornamental cabbage and kale plants from seeds. Sow them six weeks in advance of outdoor planting at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not cover the cabbage seeds because light aids germination, but cover the kale seeds with 1/4 inch of soil.

Ornamental cabbage and kale are best planted in areas where you can see into the center, such as slopes, doorsteps, decks, and patios. They can also be successful in ground beds and in large plantings.

The scientific name for ornamental cabbage and kale is Brassica oleracea. There are different varieties such as the Dynasty Series cabbage in link, red, or white with semi-waved leaves. The ornamental kale in red or white includes the Chidori Series, Osaka Series, and Nagoya Series, which are all heavily fringed and especially uniform. The Peacock Series is more compact than others.

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1. What are ornamental cabbage and kale?

Ornamental cabbage and kale are plants that are grown for their colorful foliage. They are often used in fall and winter gardens to add a pop of color to the landscape. These plants are not typically grown for their edible qualities, but rather for their ornamental value.

2. How do I care for ornamental cabbage and kale?

Ornamental cabbage and kale are relatively easy to care for. They prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They should be watered regularly, but care should be taken not to overwater them. Fertilizer can be applied once a month during the growing season.

3. Can I eat ornamental cabbage and kale?

While ornamental cabbage and kale are technically edible, they are not typically grown for their culinary value. The leaves can be tough and bitter, unlike edible varieties of cabbage and kale. It is not recommended to eat ornamental cabbage and kale.

4. How long do ornamental cabbage and kale last?

Ornamental cabbage and kale can last throughout the fall and winter months, depending on the climate. In colder climates, they may last until early spring. They are typically annual plants, meaning they only last for one growing season.

5. What pests and diseases do ornamental cabbage and kale attract?

Ornamental cabbage and kale can attract a variety of pests and diseases, including aphids, cabbage loopers, and powdery mildew. It is important to monitor these plants regularly and treat any issues promptly to prevent damage.

6. Can I grow ornamental cabbage and kale in containers?

Yes, ornamental cabbage and kale can be grown in containers. They prefer well-drained soil and should be watered regularly. Be sure to choose a container that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system.

7. How do I propagate ornamental cabbage and kale?

Ornamental cabbage and kale can be propagated through seed or cuttings. To propagate by cuttings, take a stem cutting and remove the leaves from the lower portion. Place the cutting in a pot with well-drained soil and keep it moist until roots form.

8. Can ornamental cabbage and kale be used in floral arrangements?

Yes, ornamental cabbage and kale can be used in floral arrangements. Their colorful leaves add texture and interest to arrangements. To use them in a floral arrangement, simply cut the stem and place in water with floral preservative.

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