Flowering cabbage or kale are great replacements for tired summer annuals in planters or window boxes. Plant flowering cabbage or kale by themselves in portable pots, combine them with petunias and other summer annuals still in bloom, or provide colorful company with pansies, asters or mums.
Young flowering cabbage and kale plants initially lack pizazz, but as nights start to dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, contrasting white, pink or red pigments develop in new growth and leaf veins. Frost deepens the leaf colors, so popular pink-hearted ornamental cabbages look like giant rosebuds by late fall, while kale plants feature feathery, finely-cut leaves in shades of white, cream, pink or red.
To help them look their best all season, feed ornamental cabbage and kale with a balanced, water-soluble plant food weekly until the new growth begins to show color. After that, the plants need only regular watering to keep them growing strong.
Plant Containers Starring Ornamental Cabbage and Kale:
- Plant ornamental cabbage and kale seedlings in containers with other flowers. Use a trowel or hand transplanter to cut out spent plants, taking a 3-inch wide root ball along with the top of the plant. Fill the hole with fresh potting soil, slip in small cabbage or kale seedlings, and press the plants into place. Add more soil if needed.
- Use cabbage or kale in window boxes. Be sure to plant them at an angle tilted toward you so the centers of the plants are on display.
- Grow flowering cabbage or kale as specimen plants. Transplant the seedlings to 6-inch wide containers in a sunny spot. Arrange close together in a rustic tub or wood crate so the plants will become a tapestry of color and texture.
- Team a flowering cabbage with a chrysanthemum and matching pansies for a winning trio. The pot can be rotated as each plant comes into its glory.
The leaves of ornamental cabbage and kale are edible but are best used only for garnishing plates or serving platters.