Brassica: Ornamental cabbage

Height 23-45cm (9-18in)

Planting distance 36-40cm (14-16in)

Any well-drained soil

Sunny position

Hardy annual foliage plant Ornamental cabbages (Brassica oleracea) are foliage plants and popular in summer bedding schemes for their brilliantly coloured leaves. The foliage, which opens out from the centre, is frilled or deeply wavy, varying from palest to deepest green with the midribs often in contrasting colours. The centres, which look like full-blown flowers, are creamy-white, pink or carmine. Ornamental cabbages usually grow about 23cm (9in) tall, while ornamental kale is twice that height, with colourful and feathery centres rising above the foliage. Seeds are available in mixed colours.

Autumn and winter-growing ornamental cabbages, suitable for container growing, come in single colours or in mixtures.


Sow seeds under glass in early spring, or outdoors in a seed bed. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them to their growing positions, spacing them 36cm (14in) apart, in any good garden soil and in full sun for the colours to develop properly. Another sowing in early summer will produce autumn cabbages and for container-grown winter plants sow in late summer.

Pests and diseases

Cabbage aphids and caterpillars may attack the leaves.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
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