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Cabbage and Kale Varieties for the Home Gardener

Suggested Varieties from the National Garden Bureau


Heirloom Italian Kale

Heirloom Italian Kale

Suggested Varieties

(From the National Garden Bureau)


    • Flat-headed cabbages are best for stuffing
    • Large, late cabbages are most flavorful and best for sauerkraut.

  • ‘Arrowhead II’ (Cone-shaped, mini cabbages; pale green, dense head; sweet, tender, thin leaves; 66 days from transplant to harvest)

  • 'Cheers’ (solid, flattened round heads; deep blue color; tolerant to black rot and thrips; 75 days)

  • ‘Blue Vantage’ (solid, round heads; deep blue-green color; tolerant to cabbage yellows, tipburn and black speck; 75 days)

  • ‘Stonehead’ (1969 AAS Winner; holds well and easy to grow; 65 days)

  • ‘Dynamo’ (1997 AAS Winner; uniform, dense, small 2 1/2 pound heads; blue-green; 70 days)

  • ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ (pointed heads; compact, 2 1/2 to 3 pound heads; tightly folded, tender leaves; resists splitting; 65 days)

  • ‘King Cole’ (large, firm, extremely uniform heads; medium blue-green outer leaves, inside solid and white; 74 days)


With their attractive color and slightly peppery flavor, red cabbages are a popular choice in salads and for cooking (add vinegar to cooking water to retain color).

  • ‘Red Meteor’ (firm; good for all seasons; 75 days)

  • ‘Ruby Ball’ (1992 AAS Gold Medal Winner; 4 pounds; open, round and solid; medium dark ruby red; slow to burst; resists both cold and heat; 71 days)

  • ‘Ruby Perfection’ (solid 3 to 4 pound heads mature early compact—can be spaced 10 inches apart; tolerant of heat and cold; deep red; 80 days)

  • ‘Super Red 80’ (solid, medium-sized heads; plant close for single-serving mini cabbages; well-wrapped leaves; early – 73 days)

  • ‘Red Jewel’ (good size, uniformity, earliness and internal color; 80 days)


Savoy cabbages are sweeter with a more delicate flavor than green cabbages. Outer leaves are generally deep green, lightening to pale green inner. Excellent raw in cole slaw or salads, or gently cooked in stir-fries or soups.

  • ‘Chieftan’ (1938 AAS Winner, large round head, heavily and evenly savoyed; late – 90 days)

  • ‘Savoy Express’ (2000 AAS Winner, small 1 pound heads on compact plants; few wrapper leaves; great for cooking, stuffing, and tender enough for salads; very early - 55 days)

  • ‘Savoy King’ (1965 AAS Gold Medal Winner; uniform, semi-flat head; 4 pounds; dark, green color; vigorous and heat tolerant; 85 days)


Chinese cabbages generally have elongated heads with broad, white-stalked, overlapping, savoyed (crinkled) leaves with a mild to slightly piquant flavor and a wonderful crunch. This is the cabbage used in Asian stir-fries. It’s also nice raw, in salads.

A big bonus of Chinese cabbages is that they are more tolerant of hot weather than regular green cabbages and can be grown throughout the season. There are 3 types of Chinese cabbage:

Chinese cabbage is also in the Brassica genus, but it’s grouped in with B. Rapa, which includes mustard greens, turnips and broccoli raab.

  • Napa cabbage (also known as closed head): The best known type of Chinese cabbage, with leaves that overlap over the top of the head.

    • ‘Minuet’ (9” by 7” heads; dark green outer leaves, attractive yellow interior; perfumed, light, sweet taste; 48 days)

    • ‘Rubicon’ (firm, 12” tall heads; 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 pounds, deep green leaves with broad white ribs; creamy yellow, blanched interior; sweet, tangy, and juicy; 52 days)

    • ‘Wong Bok’ (oval heads; 10” tall, 6” to 7” diameter; tight head grows blanched and tender; 80 days)

    • ‘China Express’ (Barrel shape; medium light green color; tipburn tolerant; 62 days)
  • Open head cabbage

    • Open head Chinese cabbage looks a bit like Romaine lettuce, with wide, straight leaves that don’t overlap at the top. The leaves are generally thin, with a tangy, sweet flavor.

    • ‘Lettucy Type’ (11” to 12” tall; 3 pounds; ruffled look with creamy yellow blanched inside; harvest at 21 days for baby greens; 45 days)

  • Michihili type cabbage: This is the tallest of the Chinese cabbages. The narrow, conical heads blanch well (white inside), keeping them tender and crisp.

    • ‘Greenwich’ (firm, 14” tall; dark green savoyed leaves; slow to bolt; 50 days)

    • ‘Michihili’ (heirloom variety; 18” tall and 4” wide; for a late harvest direct seed in mid spring; 75 days)


Kale is usually classified by leaf form and texture

  • Scotch types have very curled and wrinkled leaves
  • Siberian (or Russian) types are almost flat with finely divided edges
  • Heirloom ‘Lacinato’ is in a class of its own.
  • Blue-green color is associated with greater cold tolerance
  • Japanese kale is primarily used for decorative or ornamental purposes.

Besides leaf form and texture, kale comes in a rainbow of colors from pale yellow, to steel blue, through purplish red and finally to almost black.


    • ‘Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch’ (squat plant, good for container culture; curly blue leaves; good in salads when young, or cooked when mature; very cold hardy; 55 days)

    • ‘Redbor’ (a red ‘Winterbor’ with deepest red-purple leaves; color enhances with cold; gorgeous in a flower bed or as an edging; sweet flavor; 28 days baby, 55 days mature)

    • ‘Winterbor’ (2’ to 3’ tall; extremely hardy; very productive; blue-green; 28 days for baby kale; 60 days mature)


    • ‘Red Russian’ (blue-gray, flat, deeply cut leaves; veins and stems are blue-green in warm weather, turning red with cold; one of most tender kales; delicious raw in salads; add seeds to lettuces to make your own mesclun mix; 25 days baby, 50 days mature)

    • ‘Blue-Curled Vates’ (great flavor, can be used like lettuce; best cold weather kale; medium green; 60 days)

    • ‘White Russian’ (mild and sweet; excellent for cool weather salads; mulched it is hardy to 5ºF; 58 days)

    • ‘Lacinato’ (an Italian heirloom also known as ‘Nero di Tosca’, ‘Tuscan Black’ or ‘Dinosaur’; 12” to 24” long, 3” wide, slightly crinkled, deep blue-gray leaves; excellent cooked; heat and cold tolerant; 30 days baby, 65 days mature)

Considerations for Growing Cabbage and Kale in a Home Garden

How to Grow Cabbage and Kale from Seed or Transplant

Harvesting and Storing Cabbage and Kale from the Garden

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