Flowering Kale

This annual pairs nicely with other cool-season favorites like pansies to create a colorful garden.

Flowering Kale Overview

Description With its ruffled leaves drenched in pinks, purples, and reds, flowering kale is a decorative and easy-to-grow addition to container gardens and garden beds. Also called ornamental cabbage, flowering kale is in the same plant family as edible cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Flowering kale is edible, but a bitter flavor means leaves are usually reserved as culinary garnishes, not as food. It thrives in cool weather, often taking center stage in the garden during spring and fall. It will tolerate light frost with ease, keeping its good looks through winter in Zones 8 and above.
Genus Name Brassica oleracea
Common Name Flowering Kale
Plant Type Annual
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 12 to 18 inches
Foliage Color Purple/Burgundy
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed

Colorful Combinations

In cool regions, add flowering kale to containers in early spring, pairing it with pansies and other spring bloomers. When nighttime temperatures reach the 60s on a regular basis, kale will begin to look bedraggled. Remove it and replace it with a warm-weather-loving plant, such as begonia, coleus, or geranium. When nighttime temperatures dip in autumn, flowering kale once again comes into play in containers. In fall, flowering kale adds texture to pretty pots of chrysanthemums, black-eyed Susans, and ornamental peppers.

Flowering kale is right at home in garden-bed plantings, too. Use it as a statement plant near entryways or patios. This frilly, colorful plant will amplify interest in early- and late-season gardens when perennials are slow to emerge in spring, and annuals and perennials are languishing at the end of the growing season in fall. Flowering kale grows slowly, so purchase large plants if you plan to enjoy them for just a few weeks in spring or fall.

Flowering Kale Care Must-Knows

Flowering kale grows best in sunny locations and moist, rich soil. It will tolerate light shade but develops richer color in full sun. When planting flowering kale, sink the plant into the ground so the lower leaves are flush with the soil surface.

Keep flowering kale well-watered, delivering an inch or so of water a week. Plants begin to develop their colorful foliage when temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Once acclimated to a site, flowering kale can withstand frost.

More Varieties of Flowering Kale

'Chidori White' Kale

'Chidori White' kale, Brassica 'Chidori White', Brassica, Ornamental Kale
Marty Baldwin

Brassica 'Chidori White' offers blue-green heads with large, bright creamy-white centers.

'Glamour Red' Kale

glamour red flowering kale
Denny Schrock

Brassica oleracea 'Glamour Red' is an All-America Selections award-winning ornamental variety with great heat tolerance, intense red-purple coloring, and glossy, frilly leaves. Zones 6-11

'Peacock Red' Kale

'Peacock Red' kale
Peter Krumhardt

Brassica 'Peacock Red' offers feathery leaves with rich purple-red centers.

'Pigeon Red' Kale

Flowering Kale
Erica George Dines

Brassica 'Pigeon Red' offers purple-tinted leaves with rich purple-red centers.

'Redbor' Kale

'Redbor' kale, Brassica 'Redbor', kale, Brassica oleracea Acephala group
Marty Baldwin

Brassica 'Redbor' offers ruffled leaves in a rich, dark purple shade that mixes well with just about everything.

Flowering Kale Companion Plants


leadplant blue flowers
Scott Little

For a fall show, plant leadwort. Its gentian-blue late-season flowers often continue to bloom even as the foliage turns brilliant red-orange in fall, making an outstanding autumn display. This plant is also sometimes called plumbago, but it's different from shrubby tropical plumbago. Use it as a groundcover that spreads well when in conditions it likes—dry sites in full sun to partial shade.


Close up of purple Chrysanthemum
Marty Baldwin

Chrysanthemums are a must-have for the fall garden. No other late-season flower delivers as much color, for as long and as reliably as good ol' mums. Beautiful chrysanthemum flowers, available in several colors, bring new life to a garden in the fall. Some varieties have daisy blooms; others may be rounded globes, flat, fringed, quill shape, or spoon shape. They work exceptionally well in container plantings and pots. Learn more about using mums for a fall-flowering garden.


Genus Viola pansies
Peter Krumhardt

From tiny, cheerful Johnny jump-ups to the stunning 3-inch blooms of Majestic Giant pansies, the genus Viola has a spectacular array of delightful plants for the spring garden. They're must-haves to celebrate the first days of spring since they don't mind cold weather and can even take a little snow and ice! They're pretty planted in masses in the ground, but also cherished for the early color they bring to pots, window boxes, and other containers. By summer, pansies bloom less and their foliage starts to brown. It's at this time that you'll have to be tough and tear them out and replant with warm-season annuals, such as marigolds or petunias. But that's part of their charm—they are an ephemeral celebration of spring!

Garden Plans for Flowering Kale

Small-Space Vegetable Garden Plan

raised bed vegetable garden
Peter Krumhardt

Here's how to add great looks—and tastes—to your landscape with an easy small vegetable garden plan.

Click here to get this garden plan!

Spring Vegetable Garden Plan

Spring Vegetable Garden Plan
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Enjoy spring's freshest flavors with this fun and easy garden plan.

Download this free plan now.

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