Ornamental cabbage can be found almost exclusively in autumn in the garden trade. At this time, the leaves begin to change color and the cabbage is used for decoration, autumn planting, autumn arrangements and bouquets. The plants can be easily grown by seed, the culture is simple. New varieties keep appearing on the market, more and more colorful and conspicuous. Ornamental cabbage that you have grown yourself can also be eaten. You can read in our text what you have to consider when growing and caring for them. Inform yourself.


  • Belongs to the cabbage and cruciferous family
  • Recognizable by its curly, often multicolored leaves
  • Originally from the Atlantic coast
  • Different sizes
  • Leaf colors and leaf shapes are also not uniform
  • Round heads or rosettes on stems
  • Colors from white to green to violet, often very conspicuous
  • Leaf coloring September to November
  • Height about 50 cm
  • Closely related to kale
  • Serves mainly as a winter decoration in the garden, but also for balcony boxes and planters
  • Contains vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron
  • Can also be eaten prepared like savoy cabbage
  • However, this is not recommended for plants purchased from a garden supply store, only for home-grown plants
  • It is also used as a medicinal and spice plant, for cosmetics and tea
  • Annual or biennial plant that dies after flowering
  • Flowering time May to August, depending on location and climate
  • flower yellow
  • Most species were bred in Japan
  • New varieties are long-stemmed, ideal for bouquets


  • ‘Osaka Green-White’ – white inner leaves with a small green margin, light pink coloring in the centre, surrounding leaves light green, resembles a rose, plant diameter 14 cm, long stem, good as a cut plant, very durable
  • ‘White Crane’ – creamy white in color with a soft pink center and a fine green border on the outer leaves, plant diameter 15 cm, long stem, keeps very well as a cut plant
  • ‘Hatsuyume’ – white color with a soft pink center and a fine pink border on the white leaves, plant diameter 18 cm, long stem, very long-lasting as a cut plant
  • ‘Sunset’ – bright purple-red center with blue-green binder, plant diameter 20 cm, very long stem, good cut plant, good keeping quality
  • ‘Sunrise’ – cream-colored inner leaves, some with a green edge, green leaves on the outside, the inside turns red at low temperatures, plant diameter up to 20 cm
  • ‘Peacock F1’ – hybrid breed, bizarre appearance, heavily fringed leaves, leaves green and white inside, or leaves dark red and pink inside, grows to about 50 cm tall
  • ‘Nagoya F1’ – Heavily ruffled plants, ruffled leaves, either green outside and white or cream inside, or dark red outside and pink inside

The care of ornamental cabbage

The care of ornamental cabbage is uncomplicated. The plant is versatile. It not only serves as an ornament in beds or containers, but is also often used to garnish serving dishes. Homegrown organic ornamental cabbage, so to speak, can also be eaten and is even healthy. The cooler the temperatures in autumn, the more intense the coloring of the ornamental cabbage. Temperatures below 10°C are ideal. It is too warm for the plants in the apartment, they do not last long. Outside, on the other hand, they can even withstand a few sub-zero temperatures. However, if you want to overwinter ornamental cabbage, you should do it cool, or even cold, but not in frosty weather.

Ornamental cabbage is one of the heavy feeders. The plants have a high water and nutrient requirement. Otherwise, they hardly need any care, at least if the location and substrate are right.

Tip: If you cultivate ornamental cabbage with long stems and want to use them as cut plants, you should definitely put flower preservative in the vase. This prevents the typical smell of cabbage, as the development of the microorganisms that trigger it is suppressed.


The location should be sunny, only then can the plants develop well and the colors really come into their own.

  • Sunny
  • Partial shade is tolerated
  • At least 4 hours of sun a day, more is even better

plant substrate

It is important for the plant substrate that it is neither too dry nor too wet. Nutrient-rich soil is favourable, because ornamental cabbage requires a lot of nutrients. He is one of the heavy feeders. If there are too few, growth stagnates. The cabbages stay small and neither develop the leaves nor the colors properly.

  • neutral earth
  • Sandy-loamy
  • pH between 6.5 and 7.4
  • Loose and well ventilated
  • Not too dry and not too wet
  • Nutritious
  • Lime acidic soil
  • For vessel keeping – unit earth will do


There is not much to consider when planting. Even grown plants should not be planted out too early. In containers, but also in borders, the cabbages should not be placed too densely together, as this will hinder their development. However, group planting looks particularly decorative.

  • Planting distance 40 x 40 cm
  • Do not plant too densely, lack of light causes yellow leaves
  • Enrich the soil with well-rotted compost or manure before planting
  • For keeping vessels – install drainage
  • plants in September
  • Especially decorative – group planting
  • Also goes well with heather herbs

watering and fertilizing

Ornamental cabbage has a high water and nutrient requirement. Watering and additional fertilizing is absolutely necessary. However, the soil should not be too wet, as this does not do the plants, like so many others, at all. Regular watering is important. However, the top layer of soil should be allowed to dry out in between.

  • Overhead watering when needed
  • Heavy feeder – nutrient deficiency leads to yellowing of the outer leaves and leaf fall
  • After rooting, fertilize with nitrogen, preferably with tomato fertilizer, which promotes the intensive colors of the cabbage
  • Fertilize every 14 days throughout the growing season
  • Reduce fertilization from the end of August
  • Now fertilize with a focus on potash, this ensures the coloring of the leaves

To cut

Pruning is usually not necessary, unless you want to use long-stemmed varieties as cut flowers. Then they are simply cut off. Otherwise, it may be necessary to simply remove wilted leaves, which can mainly appear on the outside.


Ornamental cabbage is not very frost tolerant, although the individual varieties differ from each other. Some can survive fairly mild winters. If you want to make an ornamental cabbage bloom, it is better to overwinter it frost-free. Only in mild areas or in winters with little frost do the plants survive outdoors without protection.

  • Withstands temperatures down to -8°C
  • New varieties can also cope with lower temperatures
  • Watering should be done on frost-free days, at least plants in containers.
  • As soon as it gets warmer in spring, the plants start to shoot up and then bloom.


Ornamental cabbage can easily be grown by sowing. Seeds of the most diverse types of ornamental cabbage are commercially available. If you have already overwintered a plant and made it bloom, you can of course also harvest seeds from it.

Tip: If you want to grow as many different types of cabbage as possible, you should use seed mixtures.

Sowing indoors

  • Best sowing date – early to mid-April
  • Ideal cultivation temperatures between 16° and 20°C
  • Germination time – about 5 days
  • Substrate – commercial seed or vegetable soil
  • Sowing depth 3 to 5 mm
  • Location – sunny and bright
  • Keep the substrate evenly slightly moist, never too wet
  • Do not cover the culture vessel
  • Transplant when plants are about 5 cm tall
  • Continue culture at 10 to 15°C

Alternative sowing directly outdoors 

  • Best date – end of May
  • Sunny location – at least 4 hours a day
  • Keep soil evenly moist
  • Prick out after 3 to 4 weeks
  • Carefully cut off the tip of the main root to get lateral roots and thus a really strong root
  • Cool weather can cause the plants to shoot
  • There is danger from snails
  • Use snail rings
  • Fertilize with organic vegetable fertilizer
Note: Do not sow before the end of May, because the rosette will not develop properly if the plants are grown too early.

diseases and pests

Diseases are quite rare, unless you make gross care mistakes. Constantly wet soil, for example, inevitably leads to root rot.

  • Black aphids – especially love young leaves and fresh shoots. They multiply rapidly. An infestation must be discovered quickly. The sooner you do something about these pests, the easier it is to get rid of them. Better to avoid chemicals when fighting. Home remedies also help well, for example a mixture of water and soft soap, which is sprayed on the pests. It is best to repeat the process every two days until the pests are gone. Nettle stock is also helpful. It strengthens the plants at the same time.
  • Whitefly – Identified by dozens of small whiteflies, 2 to 3mm in size, rising when touching plants. There are also white dots on the underside of the leaves. Dispose of affected leaves if possible (not in the compost). Yellow decals are also helpful, but not always effective enough outdoors. Spraying with a soft soap solution helps here too, but make sure that the underside of the leaves are also sprayed, i.e. also spray into the cabbage, preferably leaf by leaf.
  • Cabbage fly – a distinction is made between small and large cabbage flies. The little ones appear in spring and late summer, the big ones all summer long. Lay their eggs between the plants, which the larvae then feed on. They can destroy the entire plants. The white larvae sit under the leaves. Ash placed in the planting holes is said to help against these pests. Tomato plants also help, but they don’t do well among ornamental cabbages. Heavily infested plants should be removed before all are affected and nothing can be saved. Alternatively, an insect litter is suitable. However, these are usually very expensive.
  • Cabbage White Caterpillars – collect as soon as you spot them. Alternatively, birds help with gathering, provided there are any.
Tip: The use of Bacillus thuringiensis preparations also helps against caterpillars and lice.

Frequently Asked Questions

The cabbage is completely out of shape. Instead of growing rounded, it now grows taller. What can you do?
Nothing at all. The plant wants to bloom and shoots up, as they say. This is a natural process. You can only let the cabbage do it. This is typical for all types of cabbage.

How long can ornamental cabbage be planted?
Since the plants like it cool, they can in principle be planted until the ground freezes, but then you usually won’t get any more. But it is better to plant them in September or October, then the plants have time to take root properly and survive frost much better.

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