Select ornamental kale for garden color, produce

Published 1:13 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service

If you would like to add plants that will provide color to your winter landscape and are also edible, I recommend planting some ornamental kale.

Ornamental kale, also known as flowering kale, is a stunning and unique addition to any garden or landscape. With its colorful leaves and striking appearance, it is a popular choice among gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

OSAKA — Using ornamental kale such as this Osaka IQ Red kale is a great way to add color and an edible element to winter gardens. (Photo by MSU Extension/Eddie Smith)

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The leaves of ornamental kale come in a variety of colors, including shades of red, pink, purple, white and green. The leaves are frilly and ruffled, adding texture and depth to the landscape.

Ornamental kale is also known for its ability to withstand our cold winter temperatures, making it a great choice for winter gardens.

PEACOCK — Peacock White kale is a stunning variety whose outer green leaves provide a nice frame for the inner white leaves that get tinted pink in cold temperatures. (Photo by MSU Extension/Eddie Smith)

In addition to its ornamental value, ornamental kale is also edible. While it may not be as flavorful as traditional kale, you can still harvest it and include it in salads or use it as a garnish. Its unique appearance can add a pop of color and interest to a dish

Peacock White kale is a stunning variety that boasts beautiful white and green leaves. These ruffled leaves add texture and depth wherever they are grown. The outer green leaves provide a nice frame for the inner white leaves that get tinted pink in cold temperatures.

Like Peacock White kale, Peacock Red kale has frilly leaves. This variety has bright purple leaf veins. The outer leaves are greenish-purple, and the inner leaves are shades of deep reddish-purple. Leaf colors intensify in cooler temperatures.

One of my favorites, Crystal Red kale is a stunningly beautiful variety with center leaves characterized by magnificent, glossy reddish-purple hues. The outer glossy green leaves with reddish-purple veins frame the colorful center of this plant.

Osaka IQ Red kale is another of my favorites that is vibrant and beautiful. Outer leaves are dark grayish purple with a reddish-purple center. Leaves are slightly ruffled and relatively large and flat with bright reddish-purple veins.

Whether you are looking for a pop of color or a unique addition to your winter edible garden, ornamental kale is definitely worth considering.

Dr. Eddie Smith is a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is also host of the popular Southern Gardening television program. Locate Southern Gardening products online at