Growing Wisdom

Ornamental kales and cabbages are perfect for fall color

Although this particular fall has been warm thus far, we will eventually see colder weather and a frost and freeze. This means many of the annual plants will be killed and the perennials will go dormant. This doesn’t mean your garden can’t still have some interesting plants which will last into the holiday season—and if you are lucky, they can even be alive in December.

Two of the hardiest ornamental annual plants using containers are the kales and the cabbages. These plants, part of the brassica family, can really take the cold. As more and more cultivars or types of the plants are developed, it gives new opportunities to create unique displays well into fall.


In the video below, I show you some of the newer varieties of kales and cabbages that are available. Notice the different colors, sizes and textures of these plants. Typically in the colder climates chrysanthemums are used as a nice pairing with these plants.

There are other varieties available by seed such as sunset. This particular variety makes a great flora display as well as being good for small containers.

sunset cabbage.jpg

These plants can have pest issues in the form of the larvae of the cabbage moth. This small green caterpillar can eat large amounts of leaves in a short period of time. They also tend to eat the newer leaves, so as the plant grows, you end up with holes in the leaves and they are no longer very attractive.


Spinosad is an organic product used to control cabbage moth in the larvae stage. I used this on my ornamental plants as well as those I will use for food. By the way, the ornamental varieties are also edible, but often not as tasty as the plants bred for eating.
These plants like to be placed in a sunny environment. If you only need them in an area for a short time, like for a party, you can place them in the shade, but they won’t thrive.

I recommend removing them before the ground freezes, as they tend to get quite mushy by spring. In milder zones, these plants can survive throughout the winter months.
Other companion plants such as ornamental grasses, peppers, and even pansies can also be planted alongside your cabbages.


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