Looking for a new colorful addition to your garden? Then how about kale flowers! This is a great little project for the gardener in you since kale plants require very minimal care for a wonderful red, pink, purple, or white show. So today, we’ll be telling you all you need to know about how to plant ornamental kale so you can brag about your plant growing skills at your next tea party.
So if you thought of kale as this fantastic and super healthy, powerhouse leafy green veggie -was all there was to it, then think again. Kale has been listed in American seed catalogs for home gardeners interested in plants for their amazing decorative value.
Planting ornamental kale in your home garden will definitely make your garden get to the next level and will surely give you and your friends something to talk about as you show off your pretty and colorful kale plants. Now that you are aware that kale has a lot to offer as an ornamental and decorative plant find out how to make it happen for your garden.
What are ornamental kale plants: Cultivation and History
Ornamental kale plants (Brassica oleracea) and their cousin, the ornamental cabbage, were developed for their spectacular colors and are not edible. Although they are sometimes called flowering kale, the plants rarely put out real flowers. The color is all in their extravagantly ruffled and feathered leaves. Ornamental kale plants are best used as an annual in spring and fall gardens and container gardens.
Instead, the name refers to the center leaves of pink, purple, red, or white that give the illusion of a blossom surrounded by foliage.
The cultivation of kale, or “cole,” as the Romans called it, dates back at least 4,000 years, according to Gerald Klingaman, retired Extension Horticulturist of Ornamentals at the University of Arkansas.
It made its way from the Mediterranean to China and then to Japan.
Between 1929 and 1931, USDA horticulturists Dorsett and Morse conducted an expedition to China, Japan, and Korea. It is believed that ornamental kale was one of the plant specimens they brought back with them.
Kale Flowers Propagation:
Flowering Kale is grown from seed. Plants are grown from seeds. Directly sow seeds into your flower garden.
You can also start seeds indoors, 4 – 6 weeks before transplanting.
Seeds are quick sprouting.
Days to Germination: 5 – 10
How to grow ornamental Kale
Growing flowering kale can be done in two different ways:
- By starting seeds
- With started plants purchased from the store.
Because the seeds need light to germinate, they can be sprinkled directly on the surface of the medium in flats or pots. For the fall garden, plants should be started by the first of July. Kept moist, seedlings should sprout in three to five days and ready to place outside by the middle of August. Depending on the variety’s mature size, the seedlings should be spaced 12-20 inches apart.
You can also purchase plants directly from the store. Sometimes they don’t grow much after they’ve been in pots, so you might want to purchase the size you need.
Plant the potted kale, so the lowest leaves are flush with the ground. The main consideration for flowering kale growing conditions is that the plants need cool weather to develop the best leaf color.
Because they can stand temperatures well below freezing, ornamental kale often lasts through the winter. Ornamental kale likes full sun and rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a soil pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Kale can be planted in the garden or containers.
Grow Flowering Kale plants in full sun. They will tolerate partial shade. We recommend partial shade when growing them in hot regions of the country.
Grow in rich, well-drained soil.
This cool-weather flower prefers cool soil and air temperatures 50 to 60 degrees or lower.
Keep soil moist, not wet. Water as needed, especially during dry weather.
Fertilize plants once a month with a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Liquid fertilizers work best for fast growth.
Mulch around plants for a neat and tidy appearance and to help keep the soil cool and moist.
If you eat the leaves, they are bitter in warm or hot weather. They will turn sweeter after the first frost.
Flowers Bloom: Summer through Winter.
Flowering Kale Care
Flowering kale care is not rocket science and is actually pretty easy and simple! Just keep an eye on the following:
Keep the soil moist. First and foremost, it is not to let the plants dry out. They can’t stand overly dry conditions, so they need to be kept well watered. In other words, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged as the plants develop.
About fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can interfere with color and cause stem elongation, so fertilizing kale at planting time should be enough. Use a balanced fertilizer (ratio 3-1-2 or 1-1-1) with micro-nutrients.
The University of Minnesota Extension recommends fertilizing kale with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer when the plants reach 4 inches tall. Alternatively, you can side-dress with compost and water with compost tea weekly to nourish your kale. When the plants mature and cooler weather arrives, the color of the foliage will deepen to the desirable and decorative blue-greens, reds, and purples.
Monitor the kale for pests. For this, you need to cut off flower stems as soon as they appear. Pests and diseases are pretty much the same as those that affect edible kale and are treated accordingly. Another option is to handpick caterpillars and other pests. Because diseases can be spread from one year to the next, rotate the location of your ornamental kale every season. Cabbage Loopers are a common problem, but as stated, these can be pick by hand. Cabbage worms and root maggots can also be a problem. If you are not going to eat the Kale, use insecticides as needed. You shouldn’t be too worried about disease problems since these are infrequent. Whether you are harvesting the leaves for the kitchen or a bouquet, be sure to sterilize the shears or anvil pruners with rubbing alcohol to avoid spreading diseases.
Kale is definitely a plant meant to look attractive, and while it is certainly edible, it generally has a bit of bitter taste to it. The small new leaves are typically used in salads, while larger leaves can be chopped or shredded and boiled or steamed.