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They're back and they're beautiful.

There's no denying ornamental cabbage and flowering kale, can provide color from fall well into spring, depending on your weather conditions. I used to hate these plants. I've mentioned before that I thought they looked ridiculous used as flowers. They seemed garish and always a little tattered. But I've come to appreciate them when used in a mass planting or as a solo performer in a pot. I just wish they blended in better with other plants. Still, you can't beat them for cool weather tolerance.

So I'm softening a little toward ornamental cabbages and flowering kale. If you have some design suggestions to help me get over my resistance to planting this pair, please drop me a comment below. If you're wondering what the difference is between ornamental cabbage and flowering kale - and which one is pictured at right - read on...

Photo Provided by dog madic / stock.xchng.

Comments

October 5, 2009 at 10:26 am
(1) Wendy S says:

Try them with purple cyclamen. Both hold up to winter weather very well. The pink cabbages look like fairytale vegetables to me. They look great by themselves or with those antique pink pansies.

October 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(2) gardening says:

I like the idea of mixing them with dainty pansies or cyclamen. Some of the colors are scrumptious, but they’re just so large and prominent. I think the smaller flowers might soften them. Good idea.

October 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm
(3) Heather says:

I plant the kale and cabbage plants in the late spring with my other annuals when they are very small and mix them with my ornamental grasses, echinecea, phlox and rudbeckia. The blue green color in summer mixes well with other colors and then as the weather turns colder they really pop when they turn pink/purple in the Autumn light.

They become part of the overall planting rather than an addition when the weather turns colder and I think they add a lot of texture and interest. I have also integrated them as small plants into my containers in spring to add a different dimension. The are always a conversation starter:)
Cheers
Heather

October 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm
(4) gardening says:

I can imagine they are good conversation starters. I wonder if they last longer in the fall, if you get them established early in the season?

Does anyone have problems with groundhogs being attracted to kale and cabbage in your flower beds?

October 6, 2009 at 11:45 am
(5) Heather says:

I have had them last right up until snow here in Ottawa Canada Zone 5. They are better when you plant them close together or surround by other plants that will hide the stem which can get a little leggy and floppy as the season progresses.

One of the nurseries near me also had the more dwarf species used more in flower arranging that might be easier to work with especially in containers. I think they are maybe called the Kyoto series or somthing like that.

Word of caution – Be sure to remove them in the fall and dispose of them. I left them in over the winter one year when the snowe came early and covered them and the yard stank to high heaven in the spring when the snow melted…not a really welcoming thing near your doorstep :)
Cheers
Heather

September 26, 2010 at 11:34 am
(6) MJ says:

SeaWorld Fall ’09 had a nice display of them near one of their most popular rides.

September 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm
(7) bre says:

wondering if anyone knows if this is the same one that can be eaten … Whole Foods sells a young kale … hot pink w green salad leaves, lemon juice & salt that’s really good.

October 1, 2010 at 12:13 am
(8) Toni says:

You could combine the more horizontal growth of the cabbage/kale with an upright grower like stock, then soften the edges in between with huchera and add some gentle movement with acorus. You could even start with a base of something like kinnikinnik as a darker canvas to build upwards, or if using planters, the kk would be pretty as the trailer over the edges of the container.

Just a thought!

October 1, 2010 at 6:25 am
(9) gardening says:

Toni, that’s a well thought out thought. I’ll bet the acorus is really nice with them, on its own.

I’m not familiar with kinnikinnik, but I just read it’s a native of the northwest. I’ll have to look into it. It might be too hot here, for it to be happy, but I have sandy soil and I’m always looking for tough plants that don’t need constant attention.

October 1, 2010 at 6:43 am
(10) gardening says:

Bre, they are edible, but not particularly tasty. The one you saw at Whole Foods was probably a cultivar of one of the market varieties. I’ll have to look for it and give it a try.

October 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm
(11) kathy says:

Are they edible as well as beautiful?

October 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm
(12) Marie Iannotti says:

Kathy, Bre asked that a few questions above. They are edible, but most aren’t as good as the ones bred for eating. They tend to be either bland, tough or bitter.

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