Decorative cabbage

decorative cabbage Blog

What is an ornamental cabbage?

Like their edible cousins, ornamental cabbages love cool weather. Outwardly, plants look like flowers, but in fact their beauty is the color and shape of the leaves.

At the first frost, head and leaf types of ornamental cabbage fully show their color. This occurs simultaneously with cold nights, when the temperature drops below +12°C and stays at this level for two weeks. With a further decrease in temperature, the chlorophyll content in the leaves drops sharply, and growth and color intensification cease. Only with the onset of severe frosts do the plants die, and this often happens already two weeks after the first snowfall.

Decorative species are very diverse in shape and shades. Some kale seed or seedling vendors refer to all varieties of ornamental kale as “flower-like kale,” but most mail-order planting catalogs list cultivars with round leaves as cabbages and those with feathery or fringed leaves as kale. However, they are all good for decorating the landscape, and as potted crops. When planted thickly, they grow long stems that can decorate a bouquet of flowers, a flower bed or a border.

Can you eat kale?

ornamental cabbage is edible

Almost all types of ornamental cabbage are edible, although some are tastier than others. Tender collards are usually tastier than ornamental cabbages.

The red and white kale of the Nagoya variety, characterized by very tender leaves, is grown commercially for garnishing.

No less tasty are other varieties of cabbage with fringed leaves, for example, Chidori. In both horticultural and ornamental varieties, the taste of the leaves improves when they are lightly burned by frost.

You need to eat only young tender leaves. They should be washed well with water, but in no case should they be soaked in order to preserve vitamins and mineral salts. Some cooks recommend pouring boiling water over cabbage leaves prepared for a salad or garnish. You can put out the washed cabbage under the lid without adding water, but not for long, otherwise it will lose its color. Withered leaves can be added to pureed soups, sauces or boiled rice.

Planting and caring for ornamental cabbage

Ornamental cabbage can be planted from seed in the ground in early spring, as soon as the soil allows it. But it is better to grow it through seedlings. Planting seeds for seedlings is carried out in April, and in mid-May, plants are planted on fertilized, well-drained soil. In most soil types, planting compost will provide the plants with almost all of the nutrients.

growing ornamental cabbage

Caring for this vegetable is no different from ordinary cabbage. Like all types of cabbage, ornamental cabbage is very demanding on watering, loves to mulch the soil. Nitrogen fertilization should be stopped as soon as nighttime temperatures begin to drop below +15 degrees, as nitrogen can impair the color of the plant. Ornamental cabbage also needs protection from pests. Measures for this are taken the same as for the cultivation of cabbage or cauliflower.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see colorful bright leaves right after planting the seedlings. In summer, ornamental cabbage plants have a somewhat dull appearance.

Ornamental cabbage goes well with marigolds, chrysanthemums, autumn asters. These beautiful buds will delight the eye when all the other plants in the garden have faded and withered.

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