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How to Grow Kale in Pots

by a Friendly Gardener
Kale in pot

Kale has become one of the most popular leafy greens for everyone trying to switch to a healthier diet. While it does have a ton of health benefits, its recent popularity has made it quite expensive.

If you’ve been thinking of growing kale in a little home garden but don’t have any space, fret not. You can easily grow kale in containers and it doesn’t take too much effort, so you can grow kale even if you live in an apartment.

It is a very simple process, so amateur gardeners or even children have massive success with it.


Planting Kale

Kale leaf

You can plant kale seeds at any time between the start of spring and the end of summer. It is recommended that you keep them indoors about 6 weeks before the frost is supposed to start.

The seeds will have time to germinate before the weather becomes unfavorable to them. If you live in a warm region like the South, you can sow the seeds from the beginning of fall till spring. This helps you avoid the heat.


Here’s how you sow kale seeds:

  • Fill the pot with quick-draining soil and add some organic material like compost to increase the nutrient level of the soil. Make little holes and plan the kale seeds about half-inch deep into the soil.
  • Water the pot. It needs to stay moist, not soaking wet. Be careful with the watering, you don’t want to flood the pot.
  • Place the pot on a windowsill where it can get plenty of sunlight during the day. Alternatively, you can set up lights to help the seeds grow.
  • The seedlings will start sprouting within two weeks’ time. There will likely be more seedlings than you need, so start thinning them out, leaving only the healthiest plants behind.
  • After a month or 6 weeks, the seedlings should have grown true leaves. They are ready for transplantation at this stage, you can move them to a more suitable pot now.


Taking Care of Kale in Pots

Kale on rag

When you grow kale in pots instead of in the ground, they need a little more care. Take care of the following points while growing kale in pots:


  • The soil in the pots dries out at a much faster rate, so you need to water it more frequently. Check the soil daily with your finger. If it is dry up to 1 inch in depth, you need to water it again.


  • Since they are watered more frequently, a lot of nutrients get flushed out of the soil. They need to be lightly fertilized every two weeks to replenish these nutrients.


  • If you keep the pots indoors all day, find a spot near a window that faces south. It needs 8 full hours of light a day, whether artificial or natural.


If there is no good spot for sunlight in your house, you need to invest in some grow lights that can replace sunlight for the kale plant.


  • Take special care not to overwater the plants and maintain a good watering schedule. It saves you a lot of trouble in the long run.


  • If you are growing multiple kale plants in the same container, ensure that you space them out evenly and that they have good air circulation. This reduces the chances of diseases like mold or the growth of fungi.


  • There are many different varieties of kale and a lot of them can grow quite tall. If you are growing them in a small room, it would be better to find a dwarf variety.


  • Add a medium to the soil that encourages draining. If a plant gets overwatered and there is too much water in the soil, it will help drain it faster and prevent root rot. Coco peat is the most common choice for encouraging good drainage.


  • Mulching with dried leaves, compost or straw will help keep the plants from drying out and help keep the roots more comfortable.


Types of Kale Suited for Containers

Kale vegetables

Not all kinds of kale are well suited to growing in pots, so we’ve put together a list of the varieties that are suitable for your indoor garden:


Dwarf Siberian

Dwarf Siberian gives more yield and has lightly crumpled green leaves. It stays green almost throughout the year and has a slightly sweeter taste than other kinds of kale. It doesn’t get taller than 16 inches, so you can easily grow it in pots.


Tronchuda Beira

This is a hybrid native to Portuguese. It is the most resilient type of kale and grows well even in extremely hot temperatures. A slight frost makes it taste sweeter and it grows comfortably in cool weather too.

It has a very mild flavor, mainly because it was crossed with lettuce. It gets 12-18 inches tall, so you can grow it even if you don’t have much space.


Vates Blue Scotch Curled

This is an heirloom kale that has leaves with extremely curly edges. It stays comfortable in cool weather and doesn’t bolt quickly in the summer. It has an earthy flavor and tastes great in salads, soups, and smoothies.


Red Winter

This type of kale is native to Russia. It has green leaves with purplish stems running through them. If the bud in the center is not disturbed, the kale plant will continue to provide harvest.

It has a tender flavor and the leaves can be eaten at almost any stage. It grows very fast and can reach 22 – 36 inches tall.


Black Magic

Black magic kale is found in Tuscany and is named so because its leaves start out gray and turn dark green when they are fully mature. They are winter hardy and develop a better flavor after going through frost. They can get up to 24 inches tall.


Parting Thoughts

Hands holding kale

Kale is extremely nutritious, so it makes a great addition to your kitchen garden. It can be grown in pots indoors or outdoors and there are plenty of varieties that are well suited to growing in small spaces.

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