How to Grow Nagoya Red Kale (Flowering Kale)

The Nagoya Red Kale, often mistaken for an inedible plant due to its striking purple hue, combines the allure of ornamental beauty with practical culinary uses.

This kale variety, resembling roses with its vibrant, cabbage-like shapes, thrives in cool climates and adds an engaging visual and nutritional touch to your garden and meals.

Cultivating Nagoya Red Kale is straightforward, with its leaves reaching peak brightness after the first fall frost and maintaining their vivid color until severe frosts set in.

Ideal for both formal flower beds and containers, it stands out not just for its aesthetic appeal but also for its adaptability and ease of care.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Aesthetic and Edible: Nagoya Red Kale serves as both an ornamental plant and a nutritious addition to salads.
  2. Cold-Hardy: The plant thrives in cool climates, with leaves intensifying in color after the first fall frost and lasting until severe frosts.
  3. Easy Cultivation: Simple to grow and maintain, making it a great choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.
Nagoya Red Kale is captivating to behold, and its cultivation is surprisingly effortless.
Nagoya Red Kale is captivating to behold, and its cultivation is surprisingly effortless.

When I first encountered them, the vibrant purple color was so striking that I assumed they were inedible.

The Nagoya Red Kale boasts cabbage-like shapes, kale-like leaves, with a striking purple hue enveloping the center.

To me, they resembled the roses of the vegetable world.

Not only are they visually stunning as ornamental plants, but they also add an engaging touch to your meals.

If you reside in a cold region, you have the advantage of cultivating them in your garden.

Let’s delve deeper into how to grow them in this post.

Bedding Plants with a Twist

Observing them up close is also an amazing experience.
Observing them up close is also an amazing experience.

Nagoya Red and other varieties of flowering cabbage and kale (brassica oleracea L.) are commonly used as bedding plants.

They are typically transplanted into containers as mature plants in late August, replacing annuals like petunias or impatiens that have already passed their prime.

These plants thrive in formal flower beds, making them an excellent choice for city parks and golf clubs, especially when combined with fall chrysanthemums.

You may wonder: “Why this plant is called Nagoya Red?”.

Well, Nagoya Red Kale derives its name from Nagoya, a city in Japan known for its historical significance and vibrant gardens.

The “Red” in its name reflects the striking crimson hues of its ornamental leaves, distinguishing it from other kale varieties.

This particular cultivar may have been developed or popularized in Nagoya, hence the inclusion of the city’s name to signify its origin or association with the region.

A Burst of Color

This ornamental vegetable comes in more than one color.
This ornamental vegetable comes in more than one color.

The vibrant hue of Nagoya Red is truly captivating.

Its leaves reach their peak brightness after the plants have endured the first fall frost.

What’s even more impressive is that this stunning color persists until the onset of severe frosts in the Northeast, typically occurring in early November or December.

The good news is that Nagoya Kale isn’t limited to just one color.

There’s also White Pink, White, which tends to lean towards a more yellowish shade, and Rose.

Suffice it to say, you have options!

How to Grow Nagoya Red Kale

Seed Sowing

Start by sowing the seeds indoors between March 20th and June 15th, depending on your fall frost date.

Thinly sow the seeds, planting around 4 seeds per inch.

Press them into the soil surface, about 1/4 inch deep.


Germinate the seeds at a temperature of around 70°F for approximately 10 days.

Once the seeds have sprouted, remove any covering and reduce the growing temperature to 55-60°F to encourage short, stocky seedlings.


About 5-7 weeks from seed to sale, or 10-12 weeks for 6-inch pots, you can transplant the seedlings into their final containers.

Space the pots about 18 inches apart in a cool, sunny location.

Pest Protection

Make sure to protect the plants from cabbage loopers, aphids, or other cabbage insects by using dust or spray until they are ready for their final move in the fall.

Keep an eye out for any signs of pest infestation and take appropriate measures to control them.

Nagoya Red Kale Care Guide

Nagoya Red Kale requires regular watering and nutrient-rich soil.
Nagoya Red Kale requires regular watering and nutrient-rich soil.

Certainly, growing Nagoya Red Kale involves more than just germinating the seeds.

To ensure healthy and vibrant buds, it’s important to consider the vegetable’s preferences. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Sun Exposure: Nagoya Red Kale thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of sun exposure per day to flourish.
  • Hardiness Zone: Ideally suited for hardiness zones 9 to 11, Nagoya Red Kale prefers climates with relatively mild winters.
  • Temperature: The optimal temperature range for Nagoya Red Kale is between 55 and 60°F. However, its beautiful colored leaves intensify as temperatures drop below 60°F at night. Remarkably, it can withstand temperatures as low as 28°F.
  • Soil Type: Nagoya Red Kale prefers rich, consistently moist, well-drained loamy soils. Ensuring proper soil quality provides the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
  • Watering: It’s essential to water Nagoya Red Kale regularly to maintain soil moisture. However, it’s crucial to avoid waterlogged conditions, as the plant won’t tolerate water-logged feet, which can lead to root rot and other issues.
Have fun growing Nagoya Red Kale!
Have fun growing Nagoya Red Kale!

Conclusion: Nagoya Red Kale Care

Firstly, I wish you luck and enjoyment in growing Nagoya Red Kale!

Secondly, exploring ornamental vegetables can be quite fascinating.

If you’re only scratching the surface, I highly recommend trying out Brassica Osaka too.

There’s something truly aesthetic about these ornamental cabbages that inspires me to indulge in salads more often!

Happy gardening!