Autumn is the season of the year when your thoughts turn to preparing your garden for winter and to the spring flowering season. Most of the flowering plants die during the winter and you need to cover your trees and shrubs to protect them from the harsh elements of winter weather. However, there are some plants that thrive in the cold weather and provide beautiful color to your garden in spring. One of these is ornamental cabbage, also known as kale, that is easy to grow and care for during the winter months.
Ornamental cabbage is grown from seed that you can purchase at your local garden center or nursery. There is very little work involved in the planting because you do not have to dig holes or furrows for the seed. The best time of the year to start sowing the seed is about six weeks or so before the first frost of the year. While this is hard to determine exactly, just think about the usual time that you get frost each year and use this as your guide.
Sow the seeds for the ornamental cabbage directly in the garden where you want them to sprout. Plant the seeds in rows with about six inches between each seed. Since these seeds need light in order to germinate, you don’t have to make sure they are covered with soil. As little as 1/8 inches of soil will be sufficient and you don’t have to pack the soil around the seeds. Keep the soil moist as long as the seeds are germinating.
Once you notice that the seeds are starting to sprout, you can thin out the seedlings if you wish. It will only take a week or two for this to happen. Wait until the plants have grown about three inches so that you can see the shape the bed will take. At this time you can pull out any ornamental cabbage plants that seem to be too close together.
In order for the plants to attain color and display it in the spring, they do need cooler temperatures. While it is possible to grow ornamental cabbage indoors, instead of making sure you have them in a place of warmth, it is essential that you keep them in a location that is cold, yet receives lots of light. Even planting the seeds in the garden during August when the summer temperatures are still high will result in plants that are void of color.