Adding ornamental cabbage or flowering kale to your winter garden can provide a vivid burst of red, pink, white or purple color. They require minimal care and withstand the ice and cold of winter. We asked our Estate Horticulturalist, Vanessa Giampaoli, a few questions about growing this beautiful type of cabbage for decorative purposes.
Is it hard to grow ornamental cabbage?
Vanessa: An ornamental cabbage takes the same amount of effort as any other brassica (cauliflower, broccoli or kale) in the seedling stage, however once finally transplanted, they do not need much attention besides watching for pests and irrigation. Ornamental cabbages can also be called flowering kale, so if you have trouble finding seeds, try flowering kale!
What are the best ways to use ornamental cabbage?
V: The best use is providing color in your garden during the colder months when other summer and fall annuals have started to die off. They are great in planters, pots, or in-ground beds. They can also be used in floral arrangements. Although edible, they aren’t really delicious due to their fibrous texture and bitter flavor. However, last winter our estate chef chopped small leaves for plant garnishes when I didn’t have an abundance of colorful edible flowers growing.
When should you sow the seeds?
V: It depends on your growing zone/first frost date. They should be directly sown at least 6 weeks before your first frost date.
Where is the best spot to grow ornamental cabbage and kale?
V: For the fullest possible cabbage, it is recommended to be planted in full sun, especially for cut flower purposes. However, they can do well in part shade if you’d prefer to leave them in the ground for winter color. Always plant in compost-rich soil! Brassicas are heavy nitrogen feeders, so make sure to amend your soil before planting for the best blooms. They are cold tolerant, but make sure to plant seedlings and allow them to establish before any frost.
If you are growing ornamental cabbage or flowering kale this winter, send us a photo on Instagram. We’d love to see your progress. Cheers!
October 31, 2023