At this time of year the kale are the most vibrant plants in the garden. They didn’t look so colorful when we were selling at the garden center in September, but now…stand back! Brilliant color just when everything else is dying. The cold temperatures bring out the brilliant hues in this plant so placing them in the garden or in window boxes/containers in September is an investment that pays off in November and December.
Here are a couple of tips for being successful with ornamental cabbages and kales. First, be sure to water them regularly when they are first planted. When you first put them in they have a root system the size of the pot and they can dry up quickly. It’s common for people to pay attention to watering with new plants in the spring, but forget about that same irrigation in the fall. Human nature. Nevertheless, keep them hydrated, especially at first.
Secondly, be aware that slugs love these plants. If you’re smart you’ll pick up a container of Sluggo when you purchase your kales and cabbages, and sprinkle the ground around them as soon as they go in. In the early fall the cabbage moth is still laying eggs as well, so an application of Bt or Spinosad is also a good idea. This might make it all seem more complicated than it really is, but it’s truly worth a shake of Sluggo and one application of Bt because after that you can sit back and enjoy these beautiful plants.
In most parts of the country ornamental cabbages and kales are pretty through the New Year, or until they are hidden by snow. In warmer areas they provide color all winter – lucky you. I’ve even seen them sold as cut flower stems.
Winter color? You can grow that!
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