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Quick-growing and massive, giant kale, also known as colewort, makes an early-season focal point in a garden. At 4 to 6 feet tall, the huge green leaves resemble edible kale and are a striking contrast to the cloud of tiny white flowers that appear in late spring and early summer. Tough to find in garden centers and online, giant kale is worth the search. Its cousin, sea kale, has similar flowers and foliage and is easier to find sources for.
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What to Plant With Giant Kale
Giant kale is a spectacular addition to the spring and early-summer garden. After its three-week bloom period, the foliage slowly goes dormant or gets chewed by pests so can appear untidy. Plan ahead for giant kale's summer siesta by pairing it with summer- and fall-blooming perennials. Great companions include purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye weed, pink turtlehead, and plume poppy.
How to Grow Giant Kale
Giant kale grows best in full sun and deep, fertile well-drained soil. Moist soil is key for long-lasting foliage. Plants growing in soil that dries out during summer are likely to go dormant after blooming. Giant kale does not grow well in the heat and humidity of the deep South.
Plant giant kale in spring where it will have space for its robust growth. After planting, spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone to help conserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. Water giant kale regularly and deeply during the first year. Continue watering as necessary during dry conditions.
Giant kale flower heads often become heavy and topple over while in full bloom. Stake plants to keep them upright. Sink a 6-foot-tall bamboo stake into the ground near the plant in early spring and loosely tie stalks to the stake using garden twine.