Kale, Brassica oleracea var. acephala, is a cool weather crop that can be planted early in the spring and late in the summer.
In our guide to growing kale, we discuss all you need to know to cultivate this nutritious leafy green.
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In this article, we introduce 13 delicious types of kale that not only enrich the family diet, but add color and textural interest to early and late season gardens as well.
Here’s the lineup:
13 of the Best Kale Varieties
Read on to discover the unique features of each of these delicious types of kale.
Noteworthy tolerance of heat and cold are noted, and apply to mature plants, not seedlings, which are always vulnerable to temperature extremes.
1. Black Magic
A cultivated variety of heirloom lacinato kale, aka Tuscan (Toscano), or dinosaur kale, this type is known by its slender, bumpy, or puckered leaves that resemble straps. This appearance is often referred to as “savoyed.”
What makes ‘Black Magic’ unusual is that the green leaves are so dark, they are often almost black, and at a length of about 18 inches, they are quite attractive in the garden.
Lacinato types are also appreciated for their heat tolerance. It is best eaten fresh or enjoyed in “short-cook” dishes like stir fry, as opposed to slow-cooked soups and stews.
Harvest the leaves when they are small for “baby greens,” and massage a little olive oil into them before adding them to salads.
Or, let them mature before harvesting and cut them into pieces before baking or frying them, for healthy chips.
And if frost is in the forecast, no worries. ‘Black Magic’ is especially hardy, and the frost sweetens the leaves to perfection.
This cultivar fully matures in 65 to 80 days, at a height of 24 to 36 inches, and a width of 12 to 24 inches.
Find ‘Black Magic’ seeds now from Eden Brothers in packets of approximately half a teaspoon, as well as one-ounce and quarter-pound sizes.
2. Dazzling Blue
This especially cold-tolerant lacinato cultivar has puckered blue-green leaves with purple midribs, and shades to purple as the temperature drops.
Tender and versatile, this type performs equally well both raw and cooked, like the variety described above.
These early-maturing plants are fully grown in 30 to 60 days. They top out at 24 to 48 inches, with a spread of 12 to 14 inches, making them well-suited to container gardening.
Find ‘Dazzling Blue’ seeds now from Botanical Interests in one-gram packets.
3. Dwarf Siberian
This winter-hardy Russian heirloom has excellent cold tolerance and can withstand a bit of shade. Its blue-green leaves are ruffled slightly, and have a distinct flavor with hints of cabbage.
Their tenderness makes them suited to raw eating in sandwiches and salads.
‘Dwarf Siberian’ has a compact nature that makes it well-suited to container gardening.
Expect maturity in 50 to 65 days, with a height of 14 to 16 inches and spread of eight to 12 inches.
Find ‘Dwarf Siberian’ seeds now from Eden Brothers in one-ounce, quarter-pound, one-pound, and five-pound packages.
‘Premier’ is an heirloom cultivar with medium green, smooth leaves that reach a length of approximately 15 inches. They are mild in flavor and make a refreshing addition to cold plates.
This type is known for being especially cold tolerant, slow to bolt, and high yielding.
Maturity is in approximately 60 days. Its compact dimensions are 12 to 15 inches tall and equally wide, making it a practical choice for container gardening.
Find ‘Premier’ seeds now from Eden Brothers in one-ounce, quarter-pound, one-pound, and five-pound packages.
5. Prizm Hybrid
‘Prizm’ boasts nearly stemless green leaves that curl tightly and have a delightfully nutty undertone. The youngest leaves are the sweetest.
This type is excellent in cold dishes. It also performs well in fast-prep stir fries. And it whips up like a breeze in smoothies and other blended drinks.
Plants mature in 50 to 60 days. Heights reach 10 to 24 inches with a 10- to 12-inch spread, making this variety great for smaller-scale plots and containers.
Find ‘Prizm’ now from Burpee in packets of 50 seeds, or six starter plants.
With its curly purple leaves and upright growth habit, ‘Redbor’ adds rich color, texture, and vertical interest to garden settings. It’s a remarkably cold-hardy cultivar that sweetens with every hard freeze.
Harvest tender young leaves for salads and cold plates, and slow-cook mature leaves to soften the firm stems.
Expect maturity in 50 to 60 days. Plants reach heights of 12 to 20 inches with a spread of 10 to 18 inches, and are an excellent choice for pots on the patio and small gardens.
Find ‘Redbor’ now from Botanical Interests in packets of 25 seeds.
7. Red Russian
If you are looking for an extremely cold-tolerant kale cultivar, here it is. ‘Red Russian’ can withstand temperatures of -10°F, and it tastes even better for the experience.
With oak-like greenish-purple leaves and prominent purple ribs and veining, this attractive variety is best for hearty slow-cooking that tenderizes even the thickest stalks.
Plants mature in approximately 60 days at heights of 24 to 36 inches, and widths of about 12 inches.
Find ‘Red Russian’ seeds now from Burpee in packages of 500.
Learn more about how to grow ‘Red Russian’ in our guide.
8. Red Ursa
This cultivar has a green oak-style leaf with ruffled edges. Magenta ribs and veining make for dramatic contrast, and the color gets richer with maturity.
Harvest leaves when they’re young, at about six inches tall for the tenderest, sweetest addition to microgreens salads.
‘Red Ursa’ tolerates both heat and cold very well, with above average bolt resistance and frost tolerance.
Expect maturity in 65 to 85 days. Plants achieve heights of 24 to 36 inches, and widths of 12 to 24 inches.
Find ‘Red Ursa’ seeds now from Burpee in packages of 500.
9. Red Winter
Similar to ‘Red Russian,’ ruffled oak-shaped leaves and purple veining characterize this type.
However, instead of having to slow-cook the largest leaves to tenderize them, this type is especially soft and sweet when the leaves are both young and mature.
Great for container gardening, ‘Red Winter’ matures in a quick 50 days at a height of approximately 24 inches, and a width of 18 inches.
Find organic ‘Red Winter’ seeds now from Burpee in packages of 345.
Deep blue-purple leaves and magenta midribs and veining cast a reddish glow over sweet and tender ‘Scarlet.’
Delicious both raw and quick-cooked, pick this type when the leaves are a mere six inches long for peak flavor and texture. A light frost is well-tolerated and enhances the unique color.
This cultivar is both cold and heat tolerant. It matures in 65 to 80 days at heights of 24 to 36 inches, and widths of 12 to 24 inches.
Find ‘Scarlet’ seeds now from Burpee in packages of 500.
11. Tronchuda Beira Hybrid
This is an unusual variety that has flat blue-green leaves with thick white ribs, and resembles a loose head of cabbage or collard greens.
It may weigh anywhere from five to seven pounds at maturity. The leaves measure up to 24 inches across, and despite their size, are quite tender and flavorful.
This type is perfect for robust traditional soups like Portuguese caldo verde or Spanish caldo gallego.
‘Tronchuda Beira’ is appreciated for being remarkably heat tolerant, and it performs equally well in cold temperatures.
Expect 85 days to maturity. Plants grow to approximately 24 inches tall and wide.
12. Vates Blue Scots Curled
Heirloom ‘Blue Scots Curled’ is a variety with tight and curly blue-green leaves that can withstand a light frost, and will taste even sweeter for it. It thrives in both heat and cold, and tolerates some shade as well.
Look forward to an abundant harvest of young greens for salads, pop raw leaves into a blended drink, or slow-cook them in a stew for a healthy dose of green veggie nutrition.
“Vates” stands for Virginia Truck Experiment Station, and denotes the agricultural research facility where this variety was developed during the Depression.
Expect plants to mature in 55 to 65 days, measuring 12 to 16 inches tall and about 24 inches wide.
You can find seeds in a variety of package sizes available at Eden Brothers.
13. White Russian
‘White Russian’ has blue-green oak-style leaves with white ribs and slightly ruffled edges. Especially tolerant of the cold, its sweetness is enhanced by a light frost.
Harvest tender young leaves for fresh baby greens, or let the ample foliage mature for a substantial addition to slow-cooked soups, stews, and simmered sides.
Plants mature in approximately 50 days to heights of 24 to 36 inches, and widths of 12 to 24 inches.
Find ‘White Russian’ seeds now from Eden Brothers in one-ounce packets.
Vibrant, Versatile, and Delicious
Kale adds bumpy, curly, and ruffled textures, as well as eye-catching shades of black, blue, green, and purple, to both the early and late season landscape.
And with a range of mature dimensions, you can create a custom backdrop to seasonal plants in the foreground.
And as if that isn’t enough, handsome kale plants yield armloads of tasty and nutritious baby greens to consume crisp and cool, as well as mature leaves to cook and savor.
It’s time to add kale to your garden planner.
When selecting varieties, note the number of days to maturity, and which ones have exceptional heat and/or cold tolerance. Choose the ones that best suit your growing environment.
Are you growing kale? Which are your favorite varieties? Let us know in the comments section below!
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