Growing Ornamental Cabbage Kale: A Guide to Beautiful and Decorative Plants


Ornamental cabbage kale, also known as decorative cabbage plants, is a stunning addition to any garden or landscape.

With its vibrant colors and unique foliage, this cabbage flower plant adds a touch of elegance and beauty to fall and winter gardens.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about growing ornamental cabbages, from planting and care to varieties and maintenance.

Understanding Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are varieties of the Brassica oleracea species, which also includes edible cabbage, kale, and broccoli.

The main difference between ornamental and edible varieties is their purpose.

While edible cabbage and kale are grown for consumption, ornamental varieties are cultivated for their aesthetic appeal.

Ornamental cabbages are known for their large, colorful leaves that form a rosette shape, creating a striking visual display in gardens and landscapes.

Choosing the Right Varieties

When selecting ornamental cabbage and kale varieties, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important factors is color.

Ornamental cabbages come in a range of colors, including shades of pink, purple, green, and white. Some varieties even have variegated or ruffled leaves, adding extra visual interest.

It’s also important to consider the size of the plant, as some varieties grow larger than others. Popular varieties include ‘Osaka Pink’, ‘Peacock White’, and ‘Redbor’.

Planting Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

The best time to plant ornamental cabbages is in the late summer or early fall, as they thrive in cool weather.

Choose a location that receives full sun to partial shade, and ensure the soil is well-draining. Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds and incorporating organic matter.

Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the plant and place the cabbage flower plant in the hole, ensuring it is at the same depth as it was in the container.

Backfill the hole with soil and gently firm it around the plant. Water thoroughly after planting to help the plant establish its roots.

Caring for Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbages have similar care requirements to their edible counterparts. They prefer consistently moist soil, so regular watering is essential, especially during dry periods.

However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Applying a layer of mulch around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Fertilize the plants every four to six weeks with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

Monitor the plants for pests such as aphids and caterpillars, and take appropriate measures to control them if necessary.

Maintaining Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

To keep ornamental cabbages looking their best, regular maintenance is required. Remove any yellowing or damaged leaves to maintain the plant’s overall appearance.

Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can encourage the plant to produce new growth and prolong the blooming period.

If the plants become leggy, meaning they have long, weak stems, consider pruning them back to promote bushier growth.

Overwintering ornamental cabbages is possible in milder climates, but in colder regions, they are often treated as annuals.

Design Ideas for Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbages are incredibly versatile and can be used in various garden designs.

They make excellent additions to container gardens, where their vibrant colors can be showcased up close.

Plant them in large pots or mixed containers with other fall and winter plants for a stunning display.

In flower beds and borders, ornamental cabbages can be used as focal points or mass-planted for a bold statement.

They also pair well with other cool-season plants like pansies, ornamental grasses, and flowering kale.

Harvesting and Utilizing Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

While ornamental cabbages are not typically grown for consumption, they are non-toxic and safe to eat.

However, their flavor is generally bitter and less palatable compared to edible cabbage and kale varieties.

If you do choose to harvest ornamental cabbage leaves for culinary purposes, select the younger, more tender leaves for the best flavor.

Alternatively, you can use ornamental cabbages in floral arrangements to add texture and color to your indoor spaces.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

  1. How long do ornamental cabbages last? Ornamental cabbages can last for several months, depending on the weather conditions and care provided. They are most vibrant during the fall and early winter months.
  2. Can you eat flowering kale? While flowering kale is technically edible, it is generally not consumed due to its bitter taste and tough texture.
  3. How often should you water cabbage plants? Cabbage plants, including ornamental varieties, require regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist. Water deeply whenever the top inch of soil feels dry.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Ornamental cabbages are relatively low-maintenance plants, but they can still face some common issues. Aphids and caterpillars are common pests that can infest the plants.

Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control these pests. Diseases such as clubroot and powdery mildew can also affect ornamental cabbages.

Ensure proper spacing between plants to promote good air circulation and remove any infected leaves promptly.

Where to Buy Ornamental Cabbage and Kale Plants

Ornamental cabbage and kale plants can be found at local nurseries, garden centers, and online retailers.

When purchasing plants, choose healthy specimens with vibrant foliage and no signs of pests or diseases.

Consider supporting local businesses and nurseries for a wider selection of varieties.

In conclusion, growing ornamental cabbage and kale can add a touch of beauty and elegance to your garden or landscape.

By understanding the different varieties, proper planting techniques, and care requirements, you can enjoy the vibrant colors and unique foliage of these decorative plants.

Whether you choose to use them in containers, flower beds, or borders, ornamental cabbages are sure to make a statement in your fall and winter gardens.

So, get started on growing your own stunning cabbage flower plants and enjoy the beauty they bring to your outdoor space.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Q: Can ornamental cabbage and kale survive in freezing temperatures? A: Yes, ornamental cabbage and kale are cold-tolerant plants and can withstand freezing temperatures.

In fact, exposure to cold weather can enhance the coloration of their leaves, making them even more vibrant.

Q: How long do ornamental cabbages typically bloom? A: Ornamental cabbages are primarily grown for their foliage rather than their flowers.

While they may produce small, inconspicuous flowers, the main attraction is the colorful leaves.

The foliage can last for several months, providing visual interest throughout the fall and winter seasons.

Q: Can ornamental cabbage and kale be grown indoors? A: Yes, ornamental cabbage and kale can be grown indoors as long as they receive sufficient light.

Place them near a sunny window or provide supplemental grow lights to ensure they receive at least 6 hours of direct or indirect sunlight per day.

Indoor-grown ornamental cabbages may not reach their full size but can still add beauty to your indoor spaces.

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