Flowering cabbage plants are popular because they can survive light frosts where other fall flowering plants cannot. They keep their color and often bloom until the first snowfall. Flowering cabbage plants are annuals and cannot survive the hard freeze of winter.
Flowering cabbage plants are short and compact with rounded leaves. The head are wide in proportion to the rest of the plant. The flower is actually the center leaves of the plant. When the temperature at night is below 50 degrees, the center leaves lose chlorophyll, the substance that keeps them green, and their natural color appears white, pink or red. Over a period of two to four weeks the color will become more and more intense. In areas where the temperatures do not get that cold, the plant will send up flower stalks.
Flowering cabbage plants can be started from seed. Start the seeds indoors in December to have the plants ready to transplant outdoors in February or March. Transplants are also available at most garden center. Plant 12 to 18 inches apart in full sun. The traditional set up is a cabbage circle, which is 12 feet in diameter with the plants inside.
Flowering cabbage plants need soil with a lot of lime and nitrogen. Too little nitrogen and the yield will be low and the plant will be slow to grow. Mulch around the plants right after they are put in the ground to hold a constant temperature and keep the soil moist
Flowering cabbage plants can be planted in pots as small as 4 inches in diameter, hanging baskets and in containers with more than one plant. They can also be used as bedding plants or as garden border plants. The plants are not edible.
Flowering cabbage is susceptible to attack from insects including the cabbage looper, leaf roller and aphids. Excessive moisture and humidity leave the plants open to a serious fungal disease known as downy mildew.