Kale (Brassica oleracea (Acephala group))-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers


Brassica oleracea (Acephala group)

Ornamental kale
Ornamental kale
Kale prefers fertile, well-drained soils for good growth. Add about 10 pounds of well rotted manure or compost or 1-1 1/2 pounds of complete fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) per 100 square feet and worked it well into the soil. Water the plants uniformly. Control weeds when plants are small.  
  • Blue Ridge (Full Curl - 60 days)
  • Winterbor (Fine Curl - 52 days)
  • Nagoya Garnish Red (Red leaves with green fringes - 80 days)
  • Nagoya Garnish White (White leaves with dark green fringes - 82 days)
  • Vates Blue Scorch (Curled - 55 days)
  • Red Russian (50 days)
Planting Time
Kale is a cool season vegetable that should be planted in early spring and for the fall garden. It can be grown from seeds or transplants. Transplants can be planted 3-4 weeks before the last frost free date. It is advisable to select early maturing cultivars for the fall planting. Seeds are planted 1/4 to 3/4 inch deep and thinned when plants have 3 to 4 leaves. Transplants require 5-6 weeks to reach planting size (plants with 4-6 mature leaves).


Harvest Time
Kale should be harvested when the leaves reach full size by removing older leaves. kale can tolerate some frost, which tends to improve its flavor. Harvested leaves can be frozen and stored at 95% rlative humidity for 2-3 weeks.


Kale direct seeded or transplanted should be spaced 12 to 18 inches within the rows that are 24 inches apart.


Soil Conditions
Moist, Well-Drained
Exposure/Light Requirements
Full Sun
Pests and Problems

Environmental Damage

Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:

Insect Pests:

  • Aphids
  • Imported Cabbage Worm
  • Cabbage Looper
  • Diamondback Moth
  • Flea Beetles


  • Black Rot
  • Anthracnose
  • Downy Mildew
  • Bacterial Leaf spot
  • White Leaf Spot
  • Damping-off
Additional Notes

Flowering varieties can be used as ornamentals. Kale plants can be used as garnish, in salads, and may be cooked.


Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic