Growing ornamental cabbage in a vegetable garden affords much more than just ordinary culinary cabbage. When cooler weather arrives, ornamental cabbage will become the star of the garden, producing vividly bright colours in its foliage. Keep this nutritious and attractive leafy vegetable happy in the garden by pruning ornamental cabbage as it grows. With regular trimming and care, the ornamental cabbage will be ready to become a beautiful garden accent at the very end of the growing season.
Trim away the lowest leaves from the ornamental cabbage plant when the plants become approximately 6 inches tall. Clip these leaves off at just above soil level to encourage the centre stem to grow tall.
Place the leaves into the bucket as you remove them from the plant. Compost the leaves or discard them into the garbage. Never allow leaves to remain littering the soil beneath a plant because this may cause bacterial or fungal infections.
Monitor the cabbage growth as the regular growing season ends and continue to remove lower leaves as they grow. The goal of ornamental cabbage is tall centre growth rather than lateral bushiness. You can achieve this by removing the lowest leaves as they grow.
Plant ornamental cabbage plants approximately 75 days before the arrival of nights that regularly fall below 15.6 degrees Celsius. It may take one or two frosts before ornamental cabbage revs up into full swing with bright and beautiful colours. The University of California-Davis recommends staking ornamental cabbage to support the centre stalk when the stalk reaches a height of approximately 10 inches. Push a 3-foot stake into the soil about 4 inches away from the plant and gently tie the centre stalk to the stake with a soft, stretchy plant tie.
Although ornamental cabbage is edible, the leaves are not as tender and tasty as regular garden cabbage. Trim away any leaves you desire to harvest when they look fresh and are 4 to 5 inches in length and width and prepare them as you would prepare any fresh cabbage.