Ornamental Cabbage

Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are perfect companion plants – perfect with each other, as well as other fall plants like mums, millets, ornamental peppers, and pansies! Some refer to them as flowering cabbage and kale; the truth is they are popular because of their incredible foliage. Flowers can appear the second season, but by then, the weather has turned warm, the foliage peters out, and the plants are discarded to make way for spring flowering plants.

To eat or not to eat…although ornamental cabbage and kale share the same name as their edible cousins (Brassica oleracea), you’ll probably not want to indulge. The ornamental types can be eaten, but they tend to be very bitter and lose color when cooked.  Some will use the leaves of ornamental kale as a plate garnish instead of sprigs of parsley.


Not a fair weathered friend, you can expect ornamental cabbage and kale to be longtime performers in the garden. Their desirable colors intensify after a few light frosts – whites, pinks and reds become more pronounced with the onset of colder weather.  And when it gets really cold, they’re tolerant of temperatures to 5 degrees F. It’s not unusual to see their beautiful foliage poking through a light blanket of snow during the winter months.

How to use them:  As edgings – along walkways, driveways and borders; in beds, planters, pots and window boxes; or en masse in large planting areas.