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Ornamental Kale & Cabbage

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September 9, 2019

If you haven’t planted your winter color it’s not too late. Consider planting some of the colorful ornamental kale and cabbage today on Southern Gardening.

There are so many different colors and leaf textures to add landscape interest. But I have to admit that I like the red colored selections. Redbor kale is an outstanding choice. The frilly leaves are solid purple-red that intensifies as the temperatures get colder during the winter. Redbor is also a long lived plant. Though marketed for the cool winter months, I’ve seen this plant still looking good in July and August in south Mississippi.

Ornamental cabbage has a more uniform look compared to the kale. Pidgeon Purple forms round semi-solid heads. The outer leaves maintain a darker green with purplish veins. As the season progresses the new center leaves emerge with the purplish-red color. The Pidgeon series also has white and pink selections.

An aspect that many gardeners might not realize is that the ornamental kale and cabbage are edible. The bright colors can add pizazz to any fresh salad or stir-fry.

The way these are planted is important for optimum success. Always place the transplants in the ground up to the lower leaves. Ornamental kale and cabbage can look good as single specimens.

Good soil drainage is a must. Be careful that the soil does not dry out. Cold fronts moving through can be relatively dry and soil moisture can be rapidly depleted. Kale and cabbage like consistent soil moisture. Apply a layer of the mulch of your choice to help conserve soil moisture.

These plants are susceptible to cabbage loopers. These are easy to control with either Bt or products containing spinosad. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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