Brassica oleracea

Brassica oleracea flowers

A group of low growing cabbage-like hardy annuals with bright colourful foliage. Useful for winter and summer bedding, containers or front of the border.

Family: Brassica (cabbage)
Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea
Common Names: Ornamental or decorative cabbage and kales, Wild cabbage

Foliage: Attractively coloured cabbage-like leaves that are usually frilled or deeply wavy. Colours vary from pale to dark green or red with the midribs often in contrasting colours. The centres are often creamy-white, pink or carmine.

Flowers: Insignificant.

Flowering Period: Not applicable.

Soil: Any well-drained non acid fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in a north, east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy, low growing.

Type: Hardy Annual.

Origin: Europe

Hardiness: Hardy throughout the UK.

Planting and Growing Brassica oleracea

Easy to grow from seed. Grow in full sun for the best colours.

Taking Care of Brassica oleracea


No pruning necessary. Remove yellowing and damaged leaves to improve appearance.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to all the usual brassica pests and diseases.

Propagating Brassica oleracea

Sow seeds in trays under glass in early spring or later outdoors in a seed bed. Thin out, grow on and transplant to their final growing positions, once large enough to handle. Space plants at about 14in (36cm) apart.

A further sowing can be made in early summer for autumn plants or again in late summer for a winter show.

Popular Varieties of Brassica oleracea

Seeds are available in single or mixed colours. Average height 9-18in (23-45cm). Kales tend to be taller, often with colourful and feathery centres rising above the foliage.

Either sold as seeds or as a plant selection, in trays, as plug plants or in individual pots.

Cabbage 'Northern Lights Mixed' (F1 Hybrid Seeds) a mix of ornamental cabbages with frilled edges and mixed colours (white, cream, pink, red). Leaves colour when night temperatures fall to 50F/10C. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Ornamental Brassica Cabbage Selection supplied in pack of ten colourful plants in approx 9-12cm pots. For sale at Gardening Express.

Ornamental Kale 'Northern Lights Fringed Mix' a mix of ornamental kale with crinkly-edged leaves and vivid veins. Supplied as plug plants. For sale at Van Meuwen.