21 Types of Kale to Grow in Your Garden

Kale varieties

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Kale is listed year after year among the vegetables with the highest amount of pesticide residues, which is a compelling reason to grow your own kale. With the growing popularity of kale, many different kale varieties, both heirloom types and newly developed hybrids, have become available to home gardeners.

This abundance of choices can feel a bit overwhelming—there’s flat-leaf and curly kale, as well as kale in shades of green, purple, bicolored, and kale that changes its colors with the onset of cold weather. The following rundown helps you pick the best kale type for your garden or container-grown plants. 

Botanically, kale belongs to two different species: 

  • Brassica oleracea (Acephala group): These are the “true” kales, which can be divided into two categories: Scotch kale with deeply curled and wrinkled leaves, and Lacinato kale with dark green, savoyed, blade-shaped leaves. 
  • Brassica napus (Pabularia group): This is a hybrid species that resulted from breeding two species, Brassica rapa (field mustard), and Brassica oleracea. The Siberian or Russian kale varieties belong to this species. They have flat leaves and lobed or scalloped edges. 

Below are 21 different varieties of kale. If you are intent on saving the seeds, make sure to pick an open-pollinated variety. In seeds catalogs, hybrid varieties are also identified as “F1”.


All kale varieties are more or less grown the same way. While all kale is cold-tolerant and its sweet flavor improves with the first fall frosts, some varieties are more winter-hardy than others. There are also considerable size differences between the varieties. Some varieties give you the flexibility to grow them for baby leaves as well as large, mature leaves.  

  • 01 of 21

    Early Hanover (Brassica napus ‘Premier’)

    Premier kale

    Ohio Heirloom Seeds

    This open-pollinated variety has extra-large, smooth leaves that grow up to a foot long. The plants are upright and compact, so they are also suitable for growing in containers or raised beds. The plants are bolt-resistant.

    • Leaves: Lobed, medium green
    • Plant height: 12-15 in.
    • Days to maturity: 60-65
    Continue to 2 of 21 below.
  • 02 of 21

    Ragged Jack (Brassica napus ‘Red Russian’)

    Red Russian kale

    cultivar413 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    This open-pollinated heirloom variety is also known as 'Ragged Jack'—and for good reason. It is very cold-hardy, but the oak-shaped leaves are tender and sweet, especially if you harvest it after the first fall frosts. The stems are a pretty purple-red, and the colors intensify in cold weather.

    • Leaves: Curly, blue-green with red tinge
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 25 for baby leaves, 50-60 for full size
    Continue to 3 of 21 below.
  • 03 of 21

    Red Ursa (Brassica napus ‘Red Ursa’)

    Red Ursa Kale

    Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

    This short open-pollinated kale variety is a stabilized cross between Red Russian and Siberian kale, combining the rich color of Red Russian kale with the frilly broad leaves of Siberian kale. The stems form a striking contrast with the frilly green foliage. In the young plant, the stem is light purple, once exposed to frost, the color deepens to a deeper purplish-red. This variety is bolt-resistant.

    • Leaves: Curly, green
    • Plant height: 24-30 in.
    • Days to maturity: 65
    Continue to 4 of 21 below.
  • 04 of 21

    True Siberian (Brassica napus ‘Siberian Kale’)

    Siberian Kale

    Hudson Valley Seed Co.

    Siberian kale, sometimes called True Siberian kale, is a very cold-hardy kale with moderately frilly leaves. You can plant it in the spring but for best flavor, harvest the leaves after the frost. In areas with moderately cold winters, you can keep harvesting all winter long. There is also a Dwarf Siberian variety that only grows 16 inches tall.

    • Leaves: Curly, blue-green
    • Plant height: 24-30 in.
    • Days to maturity: 60-70
    Continue to 5 of 21 below.
  • 05 of 21

    White Russian (Brassica napus ‘White Russian’)

    White Russian kale

    ElizaRex / Getty Images

    This being a Siberian kale variety, it is especially cold-hardy. It is open-pollinated and often grown together with Red Russian kale.

    • Leaves: Slightly curly, grey-green with white veins
    • Plant height: 2 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 21 for baby leaves, 50 for full size
    Continue to 6 of 21 below.
  • 06 of 21

    Black Magic (Brassica oleracea ‘Black Magic’)

    Black Magic kale

    Mary Salen / Getty Images

    This Lacinato-type kale has long, upright leaves that make harvesting easy. It can be continuously harvested during the summer and the leaves will grow back. ‘Black Magic’ is an open-pollinated variety.

    • Leaves: Blade-shaped, deep blue-green
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 65
    Continue to 7 of 21 below.
  • 07 of 21

    Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch (Brassica oleracea ‘Blue Scotch')

    Blue curled Scotch kale

    MAIKA 777 / Getty Images

    This variety, also referred to as Dwarf blue curled Scotch, or Vates, is one of the most popular kale varieties because of its compact, upright growth habit and resistance to yellowing in cold and hot weather. The plant is slow to bolt.

    • Leaves: Curly, blue-green
    • Plant height: 12-16 in.
    • Days to maturity: 30 for baby leaves, 55 for full size
    Continue to 8 of 21 below.
  • 08 of 21

    Dazzling Blue (Brassica oleracea ‘Dazzling Blue’)

    Dazzling Blue kale.


    A Lacinato-type open-pollinated kale variety is hardier than traditional Lacinato. The smoky-blue leaves have purple midribs and purple-pink veins whose color intensifies in cold weather.

    • Leaves: Savoyed, blue-green
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 30 for baby leaves, 60 for full size
    Continue to 9 of 21 below.
  • 09 of 21

    Madeley (Brassica oleracea ‘Madeley’)

    Madeley Kale

    Adaptive Seeds

    This open-pollinated British heirloom kale is especially hardy. The large, tender, rounded leaves with a sweet flavor resemble collard greens. If you overwinter the plants, you can harvest the tasty stems with few small leaves and flower buds (kale raab) in the spring.

    • Leaves: Lobed, blue-green
    • Plant height: 18-30 in.
    • Days to maturity: 30 for baby leaves, 60 for full size
    Continue to 10 of 21 below.
  • 10 of 21

    Meadowlark (Brassica oleracea ‘Meadowlark’)

    Meadowlark Kale

    High Mowing Organic Seeds

    This very cold-hardy German open-pollinated kale grows narrow, short, leaves on tall, upright plants. The leaves are tender and the ribs are easy to remove.

    • Leaves: Curly, light green
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 50
    Continue to 11 of 21 below.
  • 11 of 21

    Toscano (Brassica oleracea ‘Nero di Toscana’)

    Nero di Toscana kale

    as3d / Getty Images

    This popular Italian open-pollinated heirloom is also known as ‘Toscano’. The variety dates back to the early 1800s. The blistered leaves can grow up to 2 feet long in a loose-leaf head, and like most kale, it prefers cool weather.

    • Leaves: Heavily savoyed, dark black-green
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 60 days
    Continue to 12 of 21 below.
  • 12 of 21

    Perennial Kale (Brassica oleracea var. ramosa)

    Perennial kale

    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    A rare find in the kale category is perennial kale. It is grown both for its ornamental variegated leaves and its nutty taste. It is hardy in USDA zones 6-9 and can live up to five years. It blooms in the summer, but for the best flavor, harvest the leaves in cold weather.

    • Leaves: Slightly curly, blue-green
    • Plant height: 3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: Perennial
    Continue to 13 of 21 below.
  • 13 of 21

    Arun (Brassica oleracea ‘Arun’)

    Arun Kale

    High Mowing Organic Seeds

    This hybrid kale variety has straight midribs and straight stems, which makes it easy to bunch together. Its large leaves do better in hot weather than other varieties.

    • Leaves: Curly, blue-green
    • Plant height: 24-32 in.
    • Days to maturity: 60
    Continue to 14 of 21 below.
  • 14 of 21

    Portuguese Kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Beira’)

    Portugese Kale

    Johnny's Seeds

    Portuguese kale is the key ingredient in Portuguese kale soup caldo verde, which also uses the fleshy midribs and stems. This hybrid has large, waxy leaves that form a loose large head. It has the longest growing season of all kale varieties, which isn’t surprising because a mature head weighs up to 7 pounds. Unlike other kale varieties, it only tolerates mild frost.

    • Leaves: Wavy, mint-green
    • Plant height: 2 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 80-85
    Continue to 15 of 21 below.
  • 15 of 21

    Darkibor (Brassica oleracea ‘Darkibor’)

    Darkibor Kale


    For a short, compact plant with very curly leaves, consider this Dutch hybrid variety. Another plus is its excellent cold-hardiness.

    • Leaves: Curly, dark green
    • Plant height: 18-20 in.
    • Days to maturity: 65
    Continue to 16 of 21 below.
  • 16 of 21

    Mamba (Brassica oleracea ‘Mamba’)

    Mamba Kale


    This is a Lacinato-type hybrid kale that was bred to produce robust, upright, uniform plants. This variety also has improved tolerance to cold and wind.

    • Leaves: Deeply savoyed, dark green
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 65 days
    Continue to 17 of 21 below.
  • 17 of 21

    Prizm (Brassica oleracea ‘Prizm’)

    Prizm Kale

    Territorial Seed Co.

    This hybrid kale has been bred with short leaves that have almost no stems so it’s one less step when prepping the kale for cooking, and more leaves to eat. The stemless stalks quicky grow new leaves after harvesting. All these qualities have made this variety a 2016 AAS winner.

    • Leaves: Curly, deep green
    • Plant height: 10-24 in.
    • Days to maturity: 50-60
    Continue to 18 of 21 below.
  • 18 of 21

    Redbor (Brassica oleracea ‘Redbor’)

    Redbor kale

    David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    This hybrid kale is so attractive that you can also plant it as an edible eye-catcher in a flower bed. The red frilly leaves that turn purple in cold weather.

    • Leaves: Curly, red
    • Plant height: 3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 60
    Continue to 19 of 21 below.
  • 19 of 21

    Scarlet (Brassica oleracea ‘Scarlet’)

    Scarlet kale

    cultivar413 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    This is a red kale variety with ruffled leaves that gives you the choice between growing it for baby leaves or let the plant mature. It grows less uniform that ‘Redbor’, which is a hybrid, but Scarlet is open-pollinated so you can save the seeds.

    • Leaves: Curly, red
    • Plant height: 2-3 ft.
    • Days to maturity: 30 for baby leaves, 55-60 for full size
    Continue to 20 of 21 below.
  • 20 of 21

    Starbor (Brassica oleracea ‘Starbor’)

    Starbor kale

    Petra Richli / Getty Images

    The plants of this hybrid kale are short and compact so it’s a good choice for containers and small spaces. Instead of harvesting individual leaves, wait with the harvest and cut the whole plant when it reaches maturity.

    • Leaves: Curly, dark blue-green
    • Plant height: 12-18 in.
    • Days to maturity: 55 days
    Continue to 21 of 21 below.
  • 21 of 21

    Winterbor (Brassica oleracea ‘Winterbor’)

    Winterbor kale

    TrongNguyen / Getty Images

    This hybrid was named ‘Winterbor’ for a reason, it is one of the hardiest kale varieties you can grow. The mild flavor of the leaves gets only better when they have been exposed to some fall frosts. The plants are short and compact so they can also be grown in containers and raised beds. 

    • Leaves: Curly, blue-green
    • Plant height: 14-16 in.
    • Days to maturity: 60
Article Sources
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  1. Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, Environmental Working Group

  2. Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group). North Carolina State University Extension Service,

  3. Brassica napus (Pabularia Group). North Carolina State University Extension Service.