10 Tips For Growing Kale in Pots or Containers

Everybody ought to develop kale. A powerhouse leaf cabbage full of vitamins, it’s a flexible crop that’s wonderful in salads, smoothies, soups, and pasta (truthfully, I put it in just about all the things). It’s even an ideal snack when dried for chips!

Kale isn’t tough to develop. It doesn’t thoughts being transplanted and sprouts proper up from seed. Buy a plant or seeds as soon as, and also you’ll all the time have it. This can be a long-lived veggie that’s completely happy to reseed itself. Whether or not you have got raised beds or solely room for small containers, you will get kale to thrive for you, inexperienced thumb or not.

On this article, I’ll provide you with suggestions for rising tasty kale in containers. We’ll take a look at its excellent situations and translate them for optimum output in your backyard. Let’s get began!

First, Decide the Proper Container

Kale can develop fairly giant, however its roots don’t take up a lot room. It doesn’t thoughts a little bit of crowding however grows greatest if given the correct quantity of area. Hold these issues in thoughts when selecting a container:


Kale can develop tall and deep-rooted, thriving in containers or bigger areas.

Kale is a vigorous inexperienced that may develop 2-3 toes tall. If given sufficient area, the roots will develop 18-24 inches into the bottom. That mentioned, kale will nonetheless develop efficiently in a container that’s simply 18 inches throughout and 10+ inches deep.

If you wish to plant a number of varieties or a couple of plant, follow bigger containers or a raised mattress.


Close-up of the inside of an old black plastic flower pot with drainage holes in the bottom and dry soil residue. The holes are large, oval in shape, arranged in the form of a flower with two layers of petals.
Kale prefers well-drained soil and will be grown in raised beds or containers with correct drainage.

Kale likes fertile, well-drained soil. Its roots will rot if the rising medium is simply too soggy. Be certain the container you select has drainage holes, and if utilizing a bigger raised mattress, amend heavy soil with compost and sand as wanted so water can circulate by freely. 

My kale has been rising fortunately in raised beds for years. As a biennial, it has a two-year life cycle. Within the first 12 months, it develops a number of yummy leaves we like to eat.

Within the 2nd 12 months, it bolts shortly, forming a flowering stalk that produces seed for the subsequent era of child sprouts. The flower stalk can be edible and tastes significantly candy. You will have seen it bought as Kale Rabe or Napini.

Kale is simple to domesticate in raised beds or pots. You probably have sufficient area, attempt Birdies Metallic Raised Backyard Beds. They’re product of powerful galvanized metal and coated with food-safe paint. These are an ideal different to wooden beds, which decay over time.

If you happen to’re working with a smaller area and even only a patio, attempt Epic Develop Luggage. They’re product of permeable felt, which aids in drainage and lets air circulate to the roots. They provide the flexibility of shifting to wherever’s handy (i.e., a cooler, shady location for heat-hating kale).

Kale is fairly strong and will likely be completely happy in most containers, offered you plant it on the proper time.

Plant on the Proper Time

Close-up of three young seedlings of Kale plants in peat pots on a wooden table indoors. The seedlings form small rosettes of oval green leaves with wavy edges.
Plant seeds when soil temperatures are round 40℉ and permit 55-75 days for maturity.

This would be the primary consider your success with kale. It loathes warmth. As soon as temperatures attain above 75℉, kale crops get cranky and bolt. Keep away from planting throughout sizzling summer season days. Like most brassicas, it enjoys the chilly and can style even sweeter (as a result of greater sugar content material) after a frost.

As an alternative, direct seed kale in autumn, winter, or early spring, relying in your area’s local weather. You possibly can plant it as quickly as soil temperatures attain 40℉.

It takes between 55-75 days to mature, so plan accordingly to your space. You may also plant seeds indoors or purchase a begin from the nursery and transplant it into your backyard as quickly because the climate is heat sufficient.

Select the Proper Website

Close-up of many Kale plants growing in black plastic pots in a sunny garden. The plant has a rosette of large, oblong, wide, oval blue-green leaves with curly edges.
Place your kale in a location with 6-8 hours of direct solar, however present afternoon shade throughout sizzling summers.

Website your kale the place it should get 6-8 hours of direct solar. That is the rule when temps are cool. If you wish to hold kale going for so long as attainable when the new summer season season begins, choose a spot that receives afternoon shade.

Plan for the mature measurement of the plant. Select a spot the place every kale plant can develop 1-2 toes broad. For excellent airflow, area them at the very least 12 inches aside.

That being mentioned, I let mine reseed the place they like and skinny them down a bit to the best-looking seedlings. They develop nicely packed collectively however don’t obtain the dimensions they might if given more room. When rising in pots, determine if you would like a number of smaller crops or one giant, vigorous one and area accordingly.

Give it Good Soil

Top view, close-up of a freshly planted Kale seedling in a large black plastic pot with nutrient-rich soil. The seedling is small, has a small rosette of five leaves, two of which are cotyledons - smooth, slightly heart-shaped, and three leaves are true, oval, green with wavy-curly edges.
Present kale with nutrient-rich soil, sustaining a impartial pH between 6.5-6.8.

Kale likes wealthy soil. It doesn’t thoughts a little bit of acidity however prefers a impartial pH between 6.5-6.8.

To develop in a container, use a good-quality natural potting combine and enrich it with a layer of compost. If the soil is simply too heavy and doesn’t drain nicely, amend it with some perlite or horticultural sand to assist water circulate by.

Kale likes its soil to remain moist however not waterlogged. Retain some moisture and hold it cool by making use of a topping of mulch, like wooden chips or straw.

Select The Proper Selection

Kale is a flexible plant that is available in just a few completely different textures and taste profiles. They may also be decorative. I plant some varieties simply because they’ve such fairly colours and buildings.

There are a variety of various Kale varieties you’ll be able to select from.

If you happen to want some extra concepts, under are a number of the kale varieties I like to recommend you attempt in your backyard this season.

Lacinato Kale

Close-up of a growing Lacinato Kale, also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale, in a large black plastic pot, outdoors, among other potted plants. The plant has long, narrow, textured leaves with deep ridges. They are dark blue-green in color and have a blistered surface.
Dinosaur Kale is a chef favourite with spectacular darkish inexperienced to black leaves.

Additionally known as Dinosaur Kale (in all probability as a result of it has bumpy scales like reptile pores and skin) and Tuscan Kale, this widespread heirloom selection is a chef’s favourite.

The leaves are darkish forest inexperienced to black and look spectacular within the backyard. They are often harvested as child greens in as little as 3 weeks from seed.

Dwarf Blue Curled

Close-up of a growing Kale Dwarf Blue Curled in a white plastic pot outdoors. The plant forms a dense rosette of oval dark green-blue leaves with strongly curly edges.
Dwarf Blue Curled has frilly, blue-green leaves that add magnificence to the veggie mattress and will be harvested in 3 weeks.

The leaves of this selection are tremendous frilly, with an fascinating texture and blue-green shade that beautify the veggie mattress! Harvestable in 3 weeks, this one can overwinter and feed you all 12 months right down to zone 6. As a dwarf model, it’s good for rising in pots.

Crimson Russian

Close-up of a growing Kale Red Russian in the garden. Kale has a compact and upright growth, the leaves are large, flat, dark green in color with beautiful red veins and curly edges.
Crimson Russian Kale has placing purple stems and red-tinged foliage, making it extremely engaging.

Crimson Russian Kale is a flat-leaf selection with placing purple stems and red-tinged foliage. That is a particularly engaging kale that’s widespread as a child inexperienced (it’s softer and has a sweeter style than curly kale sorts). Develop it as a minimize and are available once more crop.


Close-up of a growing Kale Redbor in a sunny garden. The plant has an upright growth. The leaves are deep textured and deep red to purple in color. The foliage forms dense, curly rosettes, creating an attractive and decorative look in the garden.
This selection options densely ruffled maroon leaves that deepen to purple.

One of the colourful varieties, with densely ruffled maroon leaves that may darken to deep purple. It turns into extra flavorful as temperatures drop and is much more cold-hardy than different sorts. This can be a nice alternative for autumn planting in chilly climates, because it’s recognized to maintain going after a tough freeze.

Seed vs. Nursery-Grown Crops

Close-up of small Kale seedlings sprouting from seeds in a seed starter tray. The starting tray is plastic, includes many rounded deep cells filled with soil mixture. The seedlings are small, with upright short pale green stems and several oval pale green leaves with wavy edges.
Many individuals choose to plant kale from seed in early spring for its ease and cost-effectiveness.

I all the time plant my Kale from seed. It’s really easy to do and less expensive than shopping for nursery crops. I direct sow into my raised mattress in early spring as soon as the soil will be labored, and I start consuming the infant greens inside 3 weeks.

Kale seeds are fairly small. Sprinkle evenly on the floor, protecting them with about ¼ inch of soil and patting down gently along with your hand. Hold them moist and see sprouts in 7-10 days so long as temperatures attain 40 ℉.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to skip seeding and purchase a nursery-grown plant which may be prepared to reap straight away. Plant it as deep because the nursery pot and take a look at to not disturb the basis ball. Water nicely and supply some shade for just a few days to keep away from shock.

Water the Proper Quantity

Close-up of watering a Kale plant from a pink plastic watering can on a balcony with other potted plants in the background. Kale plant in a large black plastic pot. Kale forms a rosette of oval elongated green leaves with curly edges.
Hold kale persistently moist by watering it at the very least a couple of times every week, particularly throughout hotter days.

Kale doesn’t prefer to dry out an excessive amount of, particularly when the times get hotter. Hold it moist by watering at the very least an inch or two per week. Checking the soil incessantly is much more vital when rising in containers, because it dries extra shortly than it will in-ground.

 I water kale each day within the spring as we don’t get a lot rain. If you happen to’re unsure when and the way a lot to water, stick your finger into the soil. If greater than the highest couple of inches are dry, give it extra water. If it’s nonetheless moist, under an inch or so, you’ll be able to wait and test once more the subsequent day. Thirsty kale will wilt, whereas leaves flip yellow when the plant is overwatered.

When temperatures start to rise, assist your kale out with a cool overhead bathe within the morning. This refreshes it on days that may in any other case result in warmth stress.

Fertilize (or Don’t)

Close-up of three Kale plants in black plastic pots in a raised bed with a layer of straw mulch. The plant has a beautiful lush rosette of oblong oval green leaves with strongly curly edges. The potted soil is also covered with a layer of mulch.
Promote leafy development in kale by including nitrogen-rich amendments, akin to compost, to the soil.

Since we love kale for its scrumptious inexperienced leaves, we are able to encourage foliage development with amendments excessive in nitrogen. I discover {that a} topping of compost on my raised beds is greater than sufficient for a wholesome kale crop.

If you wish to enhance your kale, feed it a veggie fertilizer excessive in nitrogen (the primary quantity on the NPK listed on the bag) as soon as a month, watering it nicely. Wait till crops have grown for just a few weeks and are at the very least 5 inches excessive earlier than fertilizing, as child roots can get nitrogen burned (though that is far much less frequent with natural fertilizers than it’s with lab-derived variants). 

Diligently Watch For Pests

When grown within the backyard, Kale can succumb to many various kinds of pests. You should utilize pure strategies to maintain them away, however you must nonetheless be vigilant when in search of any pests that will trigger injury to your crops.


Close-up of an aphid swarm on a large kale leaf. A man's hand demonstrates the reverse side of a leaf affected by aphids. The leaf is large, blue-green in color, oblong, oval, with strongly curly edges. Aphids are tiny soft-bodied green insects.
Repel aphids from kale by planting companion crops like chives, thyme, and rosemary.

Aphids love kale. They’re small, soft-bodied bugs that may be grey, mild inexperienced, and even pinkish. They like to suck the sugary sap from leaves and stems.

Whereas they don’t threaten the lifetime of the plant, nobody needs a mouthful of bugs whereas having fun with a salad. It’s by no means a good suggestion to spray edible crops with pesticides (even natural sprays aren’t all the time meals protected, and so they could injury useful bugs).

Your greatest technique for retaining aphids off your kale is to dampen the crops early within the morning to knock off all of the aphids on every plant (remember to give it a stable blast of water!). You may also take into account rising companion crops that repel them and/or appeal to their predators.

Plant with chives, thyme, and rosemary to repel aphids and with yarrow and dill to draw aphid-eating ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies. You may also tolerate them within the backyard and soak the leaves to take away them after harvesting.

Flea Beetles

Close-up of a flea beetle on a young kale plant in a garden. The Flea Beetle is a tiny insect with an oval, shiny black body and a pair of thin antennae. Kale leaves are large, oblong, green with wavy edges.
Stop flea beetle injury on kale by utilizing companion planting and a floating row cowl if wanted.

You’ll acknowledge flea beetles as tiny, shiny black bugs that munch small holes within the kale leaves. Their huge again legs assist them leap when disturbed.

They’ve a number of the identical predators as aphids and profit from companion planting. If they’re a pervasive drawback in your backyard, purchase a floating row cowl and canopy your kale as a preventative.

Cabbage Worms

Close-up of a kale plant in a black plastic pot with leaves damaged by Cabbage worms. The plant has a rosette of oblong oval leaves of bright green color with curly edges. The leaves are completely destroyed, leaving only a skeletal form of pale green veins and remnants of leaf tissue.
Stop and management cabbage worms on kale by manually eradicating them, utilizing row covers, and practising crop rotation.

Cabbage worms seem like little inexperienced caterpillars and might often be discovered on leaf undersides, the place they munch raggedy holes and typically utterly skeletonize kale, leaving solely the veins.

Whereas they arrive in a number of species, the commonest grownup type is the cabbage white butterfly, which is small and white with two black spots. Test for small orange eggs below the leaves in case you spot one fluttering round your kale. You possibly can scrape them off or get rid of the leaf earlier than they hatch.

Cabbage worms are straightforward to take away manually. Simply choose them off and drop them right into a jar of soapy water. Row cowl is a helpful preventative.

Use crop rotation to keep away from planting kale in the identical spot of a earlier infestation for the reason that pupa overwinters within the soil. Encourage the presence of parasitic wasps, who like to eat cabbage worms, with crops that produce umbel-shaped flowers like dill and cilantro.

Harvest Recurrently

Harvesting kale growing in a black plastic pot in the garden. Close-up of a gardener's hand in orange gloves cutting kale leaves with large garden shears. Kale is a rosette of elongated green-blue leaves with curly edges.
Lower leaves on the stem or clip your complete stalk under soil stage.

Now for the great things. You wish to eat all that hard-earned kale! You possibly can harvest it just a few alternative ways.

Kale is most tender as a child inexperienced. To reap these:

  •  Wait till the plant is at the very least 3 weeks outdated.
  • Harvest the decrease, outermost leaves first.
  •  Depart the smallest 4-6 leaves within the middle to continue to grow.
  •  Lower leaves proper on the stem with sharp scissors (or pinch them off along with your fingers)
  • You possibly can harvest once more in every week or so, taking the biggest mature leaves every time.

You may also harvest bigger leaves to be used in hearty salads, cooked dishes, and pesto:

  • Wait till leaves are at the very least the dimensions of your palm. These will retain their construction higher for cooking.
  •  If you wish to use the entire plant, clip your complete leafy stalk proper under the soil stage.
  • Wash nicely (I prefer to plunge and swirl mine round in an enormous bowl of water so any little bugs will dislodge)

As soon as temperatures get sizzling, your kale will bolt. You possibly can depart the flowers to reseed or eat them stalk and all. Lower off the stem proper on the soil stage, leaving the roots to decompose and add vitamins to your subsequent planting.

Last Ideas

Rising kale is fairly fool-proof in case you take into account that it likes cool climate. It’s a hearty and flavorful brassica that retains on giving till the climate will get too sizzling. Save the seeds or let it seed itself for an countless provide of nutrient-rich veggies.

Planting kale in containers is handy and helps you lengthen the rising season by shifting it to chill, shady areas as temperatures rise. On your greatest kale season ever, keep in mind to chop down on pest strain through row covers and companion planting, hold the soil moist, and luxuriate in munching these leafy greens!

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