If you’ve decided to plant cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) in your garden this season, one of the first decisions you’re going to need to make is which variety to choose.
Do you want the sweet and mild flavor of crinkly Savoy or tight, white leaves for coleslaw and stir-fries? How about a bold-flavored red to add a splash of color?
You can grow cabbage in US Hardiness Zones 1-10, but it’s all about choosing the right type for your growing zone.
Diverse and delicious, from small-headed early maturing types to large, late season winter varieties there’s a cabbage variety out there to suit each gardener. Let’s learn a bit more about the different types of cabbage and our favorites for growing in the garden.
What You’ll Learn
These cool weather crops form tight heads with either smooth, flat leaves or wrinkled, less tightly packed leaves in the case of Savoy varieties.
The varieties we are concentrating on here are different from – but related to – the Asian cabbage cultivars of the Brassica rapa species which include napa cabbage and bok choy. They are best grown for a spring or fall harvest, and provide a tasty, nutritious addition to your kitchen.
Our Top Picks
Whether you’re looking for green, red, or savoy cabbage, there are several heirloom and hybrid varieties, with some providing visual interest to your garden as well as being culinary staples in your kitchen.
If you’re looking for a cabbage that will store long into the winter, ‘Brunswick’ is a popular choice.
This German heirloom forms large solid “drum” heads weighing 6-9 pounds, and 10 inches in diameter.
It is especially cold hardy, making it a versatile choice for northern growers. You can grow ‘Brunswick’ in the spring and fall, and it is ready to harvest in 85-95 days. For best yields, space plants 18 inches apart in full sun.
2. Charleston Wakefield
This open pollinated heirloom variety dates back all the way to 1892.
It is heat tolerant and grows compact, dark green, conical heads that weigh 4-6 pounds.
Grown easily in most of the US, it matures in 70-80 days. In order to allow the heads to size up, space plants 18-24 inches apart in full sun.
‘Earliana,’ as its name suggests, is one of the earliest maturing cabbage varieties.
Ready to harvest in just 60 days, this one is worth considering if you’re a little behind on your planting schedule.
When mature, ‘Earliana’ weighs in at around 2 pounds with a compact head that’s 4-5 inches in diameter.
For best results, plant in full sun and space the plants 18 inches apart.
Packets of 500 ‘Earliana’ seeds are available at Burpee.
4. Golden Acre
‘Golden Acre’ is an heirloom variety that thrives in Zones 3-12. It produces reliable harvests of sweet, 5 to 7-inch green heads on compact plants.
It does best in full to partial sun, and in soil that has been amended with organic matter such as compost. A hardy crop, ‘Golden Acre’ is resistant to yellowing diseases. It doesn’t spread as much as some varieties, so seeds can be planted 15 inches apart.
5. January King
One of the hardiest of winter cabbages, ‘January King’ is an heirloom variety that makes an impressive statement in the garden with its large green and purple semi-savoyed leaves.
Sweet, delicate, and tender for culinary use, you can harvest 3 to 5-pound heads after 150-200 days. This cold hardy variety is ideal for a winter vegetable garden and stores very well. Plant in full sun, 18-24 inches apart so it has space to expand.
With its stunning looks, ‘January King’ can rival many ornamental plants for visual impact in the garden.
Find packets containing 50 seeds from Javagado Land via Amazon.
6. Late Flat Dutch
If you are of the opinion that bigger is always better, then the heirloom ‘Late Flat Dutch’ makes an impressive late-season choice.
This variety produces large heads that weigh 10-15 pounds with pale green leaves.
Due to its large size, this variety takes a little longer to mature. Expect to give it 100 days before it is ready for harvest. Since it is so large, space plants two feet apart.
Growers in Zones 1-10 can try their hand at growing this massive cabbage.
7. Mammoth Red Rock
This red heirloom variety dates back to 1889. Its bright purple heads grow up to 8-10 inches in diameter and weigh up to 8 pounds.
‘Mammoth Red Rock’ does best in Zones 1-10. It should be planted in full sun and spaced 18-24 inches apart.
Expect to begin harvesting after 90-100 days.
‘Mammoth Red Rock’ seeds are available at True Leaf Market.
8. Red Acre
With bright purple-red leaves, ‘Red Acre’ is sure to make a beautiful addition to both your garden and your plate.
Growers in Zones 3-9 can plant this open-pollinated heirloom. If provided with full sun, adequate drainage, and sufficient water, heads weighing up to 4 pounds will be ready to harvest in 75-100 days.
I personally love to enjoy its sweet flavor raw in salads and slaws.
9. Savoy Perfection
This variety of Savoy cabbage produces heads with crinkled, green leaves. It provides an excellent contrast to other varieties’ smooth leaves.
Gardeners can grow ‘Savoy Perfection’ in Zones 3-12. Plant in full sun, spaced 18 inches apart for best results. Heads of 4-6 inches in diameter will be ready to harvest after 90 days.
You can find ‘Savoy Perfection’ seeds in packets of various sizes at True Leaf Market.
A Kitchen Staple
Now that you’re familiar with 9 of my favorite cabbage varieties, it’s time to choose yours. Once you receive your seeds, make sure to read the seed packet for detailed growing information.
Have you tried growing cabbage? Do you have a favorite variety? Let us know in the comments.
And check out the following articles to learn more about growing this crop:
- How to Harvest Cabbage
- How to Eradicate Cabbage Worms on Cole Crops and Crucifers
- How Nutritious is Raw Cabbage?
- Identify, Prevent, and Treat Common Cabbage Diseases
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee, Eden Brothers, Javagado Land, and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Originally published December 17, 2019. Last updated: August 30, 2020 at 4:26 am. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom and Allison Sidhu.
About Briana Yablonski
Briana Yablonski grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania and currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in plant sciences and has worked on farms in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee. Now, she spends many hours planting seeds and moving compost at her market garden. When she’s not immersed in the world of gardening, Briana enjoys walking dogs at the local shelter and riding her bike. She believes that gardening fosters curiosity, continuous learning, and wonder.