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Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are popular cool season annuals. Their colorful leaves brighten the fall and for some, the winter landscape. But what’s the real difference between these two.

Both plants are types of Brassica oleraceas like those commonly grown in our vegetable gardens.  Ornamental and the less ornamental cabbages are in the capitata group. These form heads while the kale varieties are in the acephala group, growing more upright.

You can identify ornamental cabbage by the rosette or cluster of broad flattened leaves. These may be tipped in red, pink, purple or cream and make a nice focal point in the garden or container. Kale forms a tighter more upright cluster (rosette) of leaves making it a great vertical accent. The colorful leaves may be smooth, ruffled or lacy.

Watch the color intensify and deepen as temperatures drop throughout the fall and early winter.

A bit more information: These foliage plants combine nicely with colorful annuals like pansies, alyssum, stocks and dianthus.  Or plant them in the garden or containers with mums and asters.

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