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ornamental cabbage

Q:  What are the plants that look like cabbage I see planted in the local landscapes?

A:  I believe you are thinking about Ornamental cabbage or Flowering kale, Brassica oleracea, which comes in a variety of colors from pale green to shades of red and purple. This is a cool season ornamental for us, similar to the time of year we can grow edible cabbage. Flowering kale cannot handle the hot weather here so it usually lasts through late winter into early spring. In general, we plant it from December through February. If temperatures reach hard freezes for extended periods then the plant can show burning around the edges.  When warm weather consistently occurs the plant will produce flowers which indicate it is time to remove the plant.  Caterpillars, both butterflies and moths, will eat holes in the leaves but in generally they do not cause severe damage. Plant ornamental cabbage in a sunny site but do not overwater as this can contribute to disease issues. This plant is not particular about the type of soil making it a great choice for both home landscapes and commercial sites.  It is interesting the leaf color is intensified when temperatures go below 60 degrees F. For more complete information about this plant, check out the University of Florida publication on ornamental cabbage: