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Ornamental cabbage, or flowering kale, is one of the staples of autumn gardening and fall decorative displays. The colorful beauty, extreme texture and unusual nature of these plants make them excellent companions for mums, pansies, violas and other fall garden plants.

Many gardeners purchase ornamental cabbage or kale from the garden centers during the fall season, when the plants are fully matured, perfectly sculpted and beginning to show their vibrant color.

However, it is possible to grow your own flowering kale from seed, saving you money. Kale is relatively simple to grow from seed or starter transplants. Simply sow or plant in the garden after danger of frost in late May.

The toughest part about growing flowering kale at home is keeping the plants pest free and disease free during the summer season. Cabbages are easily susceptible to damage from weather conditions, insect pests and mammals.

The challenge then, for gardeners, is keeping the plants at their prime until their fall glory. Dust the plants frequently with an all natural insect control. Be aware of water damage to plants and use soaker hoses if necessary.

Creating fall home and garden seasonal displays using flowering cabbage or kale is a fun way to end the gardening season. Many of these plants will hold their color well into winter.

Combine the texture and color of kale with plants such as mums, ornamental grasses, and more. Purple fountain grass is one of my favorite choices for stunning combinations using flowering kale, along with flashy Swiss chard, love lies bleeding and sunflowers. Perennials, such as succulents, sedums, black eyed Susan, monkshood and others also make wonderful companions.

Flowering kale works well as a container plant, with no need to worry about spacing since the plants are at their prime and fully grown. Fall containers look best when closely packed together, showing off the colors, textures, vertical interest and more they provide as they mingle together.

Ornamental cabbage comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The leaves may be pointed and jagged, or round and smooth. Flashes of color in red, pink, orange, white, lavender, purple and others make these unusual beauties attractive to gardeners for fall landscapes, displays and home decor.

Many varieties of kale are edible, as well, making them a delicious addition to the garden, if you can spare their beauty. Some of the old-fashioned, rich blue kales are excellent in many dishes and can be prepared in many different ways.

Kale can be used in healthy smoothies, as well as baked into kale chips that can be seasoned in just about any combination you enjoy.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors.

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