Ornamental Cabbage & Kale Containers - Pasquesi Home and Gardens
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Ornamental Cabbage & Kale Containers

Turn your outdoor containers into fabulous, fall creations.

With the unending hope of a gardener, autumn always refreshes our creative spirits. It’s time to plant those low maintenance plants that are happy in cooler weather, such as ornamental kale and cabbages, blue asters, pansies and jewel-toned mums. You can keep your container designs low maintenance with ornamental cabbages planted in a simple palette of green and white or make a splash with green, purple and pink!

Summer turns into fall with a full palette of cool season annuals.

  • Ornamental or flowering cabbages: Valued for their green, blue, white or deep purple textural leaves—not flowers. Ornamental cabbage and kale look like their close relatives of edible cabbages and kale and are the same species, Brassica oleracea. Although they are still edible, they aren’t as tasty as their cousins because they have been bred for their looks, not flavor.

Are ornamental cabbage and kale the same?

Ornamental cabbage and kale are prized primarily as colorful additions to gardens where they are grown for their large rosettes of white, pink, purple or red leaves. It’s often hard to tell flowering kale and cabbage apart. As a general rule, flowering kale has a looser growth habit than its close relative. But, since both have similar needs and growth habits you don’t really have to worry about which one you plant in your perennial garden.

  • Ornamental or Flowering cabbage: Plants with a smooth leaf such as ‘Osaka Pink, White or Red’.
  • Flowering kale: Plants with serrated or fringed leaf margins are considered flowering kale. However, flowering cabbage and flowering kale are often used interchangeably.
  • Tall, ornamental kale: Add height to containers with lacy, deeply-cut, white and green leaves or the deep purple, ruffled leaves of ‘Red Bor’ variety.

Adding Flowering Annuals

  • Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana): Pansies are classic, cool weather flowering plants that are loved by almost everyone. The sweet faces are available in spring or fall in solid or bi-colored tones of deep-purple, blue, yellow, orange, wine, lavender and white. Also, look for Winter Pansies or ‘Icicle Pansies’ that are winter hardy in our zone and will pop up again in spring. Icicle pansies are selected for their ability to overwinter when planted in the fall. Bred for cold climates, this tough new breed is guaranteed to survive the harshest winters. Planted in late summer or early fall, you’ll enjoy blooms until the snow flies and again in early spring.


  • Asters: Asters are the superstars of the autumn garden. The star-shaped flowers are daisy-like and come in light blue, lavender, burgundy, pink, white or deep purple. They are perennials in our gardens but can planted as short-lived annuals in fall containers.
  • Gloriosa Daisies or Rudbeckia hirta: Treated as annuals in our zone, annual rudbeckia are cheerful plants with sunny yellow-, golden orange- or burgundy-colored, daisy-like flowers. The flowers are larger than the perennial black-eyed Susan and have single and semi-double blossoms. Look for yellow gold ‘Indian Summer’, ‘Autumn Colors’ (a mix of yellow, orange and burgundy flowers), Prairie Sun’ (yellow with gold halo and green center) and ‘Cherry Brandy’ (burgundy with double petals).
  • Mums: Classic, autumn-flowering plants are available in almost every color and size. These budded pincushions are a tidy and easy replacement for overgrown, summer containers in all sizes and shapes.

Adding Flowering Perennials: Tip: Use perennials in fall containers now but plant them in the garden before the ground freezes.

  • Japanese Anemone: A fall-blooming perennial that blooms from late summer to early fall with delicate, white or pink flowers that float above lobed, green foliage.
  • Sedum: Include hardy ‘Autumn Joy with rosy-red flowers, ‘Autumn Charm’ with pink flowers or ‘Matrona’ with pale pink flowers, purple stems and attractive, blue-gray leaves.
  • Eupatorium rugosa ‘Chocolate’ (White Snakeroot): This unique, dark-leaved perennial blooms with sprays of white flowers in fall. It is native to Eastern North America and is deer resistant.

Adding Ornamental Grasses: Paying homage to the cascading brilliant fall leaves, the motion of ornamental grasses adds to the end-of-season celebrations.

  • Burgundy Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Rubrum’): This is burgundy-leaved, annual grass in colder climates like ours, as it will not survive cold winters. The deep burgundy foliage and wispy, tawny tassels make the perfect fall pairing with ornamental cabbages or kale. (3-5’ tall) Makes a beautiful fall statement in autumn containers.
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium): The upright blue-green foliage puts on a show in fall when it changes from yellow to burnt orange. As a native to eastern North America, it’s a perennial warm season grass with attractive, silver-green foliage in spring and summer. A good choice for fall colors and height (2-3’ tall) in your fall containers.


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