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Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

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December 17, 2013
Some of my favorite plants for the winter cool season are ornamental cabbage and kale. And believe it or not, there is still time to plant so you can add their color and bold texture to the garden. Display beds here at the South Mississippi Branch Station in Poplarville exhibit the potential of these foliage plants that is often overlooked. All are mostly green when first transplanted, and begin to display colorful centers as the colder temperatures set in. An interesting fact is that ornamental kale and cabbage are one and the same species, Brassica oleracea. Ornamental cabbage usually refers to selections that have smooth and more or less unruffled leaves. The Osaka series is a great example with a color range from red, pink and white. Ornamental kale varieties display ruffly and textured leaves. Chidori Red is a good example of having feathered leaf edges along with an inner hearth of glowing embers. I should point out that true red is an elusive color. Most varieties called red are really variations on dark purple to maroon. One of the best kale that has really been a good landscape performer in Mississippi is Redbor. This Mississippi Medallion winner has really crinkly leaves that show off an incredible dark purple/maroon through the cool months. It works well in combination with the ornamental cabbage, since the redbor kale can up to 36 inches tall. The only real pest problem can be cabbage looper that cause holes in the foliage. These insects are easy to controll with by spraying Bt, which is a natural product. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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