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How to Grow Flowering Cabbage — Brassica oleracea

Flowering cabbage

Flowering cabbage—often called ornamental cabbage—is a showy accent to the fall and winter garden. The rosettes of glossy leaves have colorful marbled-patterns of white, cream, rose, and purple.

Flowering cabbage is a biennial commonly grown as an annual. Ornamental kale is very similar to flowering cabbage, but its leaves are more frilly or finely cut. Both can be eaten raw or cooked.

Flowering cabbage belongs to the Brassica genus which includes 50 annual and biennial plants

Flowering cabbage, Brassica oleracea
Flowering cabbage, Brassica oleracea

Get to Know Flowering Cabbage

  • Plant type: Cool-season annual
  • Growing Zones and range: Plants remain viable past the first frost in all Zones and will hold through winter in Zones 8-11.
  • Hardiness: In mild climates, grown for effect from winter through spring
  • Height and width: 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall and 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) wide
  • Form: Rosettes of smooth, glossy, blue-green leaves marked with pink, purple, cream, or white
  • Color: Deep green outer leaves set off showy inner leaves of red, cream, and pink. Foliage is colorful from late summer into winter
  • Uses: Cool-season annual bedding color; good in containers
  • Garden companions: Interplant with tulips and spring bulbs
  • Common name: Flowering cabbage, flowering kale
  • Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
  • Family: Brassicaceae

Where to Plant Flowering Cabbage

  • Plant flowering cabbage in full cool-season sun. Plant in light shade in warm regions.
  • Plant flowering cabbage in average, well-drained soil.
Flowering cabbage
Flowering cabbage

When to Plant Flowering Cabbage

  • Set out established plants in fall or early spring.

Planting and Spacing Flowering Cabbage and Kale

  • Space plants 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil.

How to Water and Feed Flowering Cabbage

  • Keep the soil evenly moist but avoid growing flowering cabbage in wet soil.

Flowering Cabbage Care

  • Mulch around flowering cabbage to conserve soil moisture.
  • Remove plants in spring as the soil warms.

Flowering Cabbage Pests and Diseases

  • Plants are prone to attack by cabbageworms, slugs, cutworms, and clubroot disease.
Ornamental purple cabbage

Flowering Cabbage Propagation

  • Plant seed ¼ inch deep in midsummer. Move plants to the garden in fall.

Flowering Cabbage Varieties to Grow

  • ‘Cherry Sundae Mixed’ has white, pink, and purplish markings.
  • Ornamental kale is similar to ornamental cabbage, the leaves are frilly or finely cut than ornamental cabbage.

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