"Kale, kale, the gang's all here!"
In today's gardening column in The Baltimore Sun, I'm writing about ornamental cabbage and ornamental kale.
In the mid-1990s these tough little gems began to appear in landscapes as contractors looked for something to fill the empty spaces left by mums. Home gardeners quickly followed suit.
Grace Romero, Burpee's Lead Horticulturist, provides some background on the plant and its mysteriously beautiful change in color.Grace Romero, Burpee's Lead Horticulturist, provides some background on the plant and its mysteriously beautiful change in color.
Kale originated as wild species in the Mediterranean, but it was the
Japanese who first selected, and continue to breed the many beautiful
ornamental forms we grow these days.
A USDA collecting trip introduced the ornamental kales to the US in 1929 and these first appeared in US seed catalogs in 1936. The fantastic varieties sold today are still bredby Japanese seed companies.
Cool weather (night temperatures below 50 degrees F) degrades the green pigment in the leaves, and allows the bright purple, pink and cream colors to show.
When pansies and mums are done in late fall, the ornamental kales persist. These are more tolerant of cold weather, enduring temperatures down to 5 degrees F. That's because the leaves are a bit thickened, waxy-textured, unlike in the more fragile, succulent flowers in mums and pansies.
Photo credit: University of Wisconsin/Madison
Photo credit: Handout
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Kim Hairston