Along with the pansies, snapdragons and other cool-season flowers we enjoy during winter, another nice addition is ornamental types of kale and cabbage.

Ornamental kale and cabbage are becoming increasingly popular as fall bedding plants for Louisiana, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. These plants have feathery leaves of robust colors that make them well-suited for landscape and container plantings.

“New hybrid varieties are more uniform, compact and colorful than the older, open-pollinated varieties,” Owings says, suggesting some to look for.

Peacock kale is available in white and red and has a striking appearance with deeply serrated and feathery leaves. Nagoya kale comes in white and red and has heavily crinkled leaves with vibrant colors.

Osaka cabbage, also referred to as the dynasty series, has semi-fringed leaves on a plant with a large, brightly colored center. Toyko cabbage is red, white or pink with smooth, waxy-edged leaves. The smaller Tokyo is frequently used in flower arrangements.

An edible kale, redbor, has been recognized as a Louisiana Super Plant. It has great cold tolerance for the coldest winters and will last longer into spring than other kale varieties. Another kale, glamour red, is an All-America Selection winner.

Taking care of ornamental cabbage and kale in the landscape is similar to that of garden varieties, Owings says. Growing them in containers, on the other hand, is more of a challenge.

For containers, Owings suggests a well-drained planting medium — such as one containing equal parts of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite — amended with an ounce of dolomitic lime per gallon, is good for pot culture.

Insect control is important to maintain the aesthetics of flowering kale and cabbage. Worms are the biggest concern. “Several insecticides are labeled for the control of insects on these plants,” Owings says. “Treat them when you begin to see insect activity, following label directions.”

Flowering kale and cabbage have several uses in the landscape. Try them as a background plant for a pansy or viola planting. Proper management will lead to success.

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