Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Flowering kale and cabbage are often seen in outdoor gardens during the fall months. These are quite beautiful, and really make wonderful cut flowers. Here’s the rundown on some different varieties. Some of these are suitable for spring cutting gardens. Most often, they’re planted in the late summer or fall for use in late autumn and winter bouquets.
Flowering kale Sunset and Sunrise are really revolutionary. These were bred specifically to use as cut flowers. With this breakthrough, there is hope that plant breeders will continue their wonderful work and come up with new cutting varieties. These kales are just unbelievably beautiful. I saw one picture showing them used in Christmas designs where they were combined with some foliage plants and stems with red berries. Sunset is red, while Sunrise is a creamy white with pink centers. Both have greenish leaves on the outer edges. These produce very sturdy, long stems. The actual width or size of the flower heads depends on the spacing in the garden. If planted closer together, the heads will be smaller. The plants are about two feet in height.
White Crane flowering kale looks for all the world like an exquisite white rose. The compact heads have pink centers surrounded by white petals. These are noted for their very long vase life. White Swan has a very uniform, round head. As with Sunset and Sunrise, the ultimate size of the head is determined by the garden spacing.
In addition to the ordinary round-headed flowering kales, you’ll find ones with fancy leaves. Generally these are divided into two groups. The feather leaved ones have finely serrated foliage, while the fringed leaf ones have a more ruffled look.
There are several varieties of the feather-leaf ones. These include White Peacock and Coral Prince. The former has more deeply cut foliage. Both have sturdy, thick stems. The heads are large in size. In addition to these, you should also look for Red Peacock, a red version of White Peacock. Coral Queen has a deep red center surrounded by feathery burgundy leaves.
For warm climates, a good choice for the cutting garden would be the fringed leaf varieties. When the weather becomes very warm, these develop really good color. There are several white-flowering varieties. These include White Kamome and White Chidori. Both have white centers surrounded by finely ruffled green foliage. For red-flowering fringed leaf types, look for Red Kamome and Red Chidori.
The leaves of the round leaved types tend to be very slightly wavy. This feature can add visual appeal to a design. The round-leaved ones are available in various colors. White Pigeon presents pure white centers surrounded by green foliage, while Victoria Pigeon features lovely soft pink centers. Red Pigeon has a ruffled red center offset beautifully by the maroon to burgundy outer leaves. The center of Purple Pigeon is tightly packed with gorgeous ruffled red leaves surrounded by darker maroon outer ones.
The Nagoya Hybrid Mix features an assortment of different kinds of flowering kale, including fringed, serrated, and lacy-leaved kinds. This would be an excellent choice for the cutting garden. These will begin to develop their color about three months from the time the seeds are planted.
So far as flowering cabbage is concerned, you won’t go wrong if you grow Northern Lights Mixed, available from Thompson & Morgan. These plants develop their deep, characteristic when the night temperatures in the autumn months fall into the 50 degree Fahrenheit range. These plants feature frilled edges and a wide assortment of different colors, including deep reds and purples to pale and deep pinks. The heads are a good size. The plants are 9 inches in height with a 1½ foot spread.