Kale growing in a small pot with a shovel leaning on it

How to Grow Kale in Containers

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Kale is an annual plant that can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. It does not require as much sunlight as many other plants so it’s easy to learn how to grow kale in containers. If you’re new to gardening, check out gardening for beginners for tips on how to grow more things.

Kale growing in a container with pansies

How to grow kale

Kale is easy to grow from seed, or you can get seedlings at the garden center. Once you decide how you are going to grow it, check out this article on how to grow kale.

Kale is grown for it’s beautiful leaves that come in many colors including blue, purple, pink, red, green, or white. It’s also a very nutritious superfood and in my opinion delicious!

The leaves of kale don’t form a head as most cabbages do. You can cut a few leaves off of your kale plant and it will produce more. Or what we call cut and come again.

You can use kale in many different ways, raw or cooked, it’s very versatile. You can use it in smoothies, you can juice it, you can make salad with it. It can be a side dish or a main dish. You can dehydrate it into this green powder and sprinkle it, undetected, into your family’s food.

Kale is pretty enough to grow in your flowerbeds. It’s a gorgeous plant! It can survive the winter down to below freezing temperatures. It’s one of the only plants that overwinter in my Oklahoma preschool garden every winter. It actually tastes sweeter after a frost hits it.

You harvest the bottom leaves first. They are best when harvested young. The smaller, the more tender they are.

Growing kale in pots

It’s very easy to grow kale in containers. When you grow it in pots, it’s easier to keep an eye on it, you can move it around, and you can even grow it indoors!

A pot is a great place to plant kale because you could move it to a more shaded spot with only morning sun in the heat of the summer and grow it year-round!

What do you need to grow kale in containers?

  • Kale seeds (or seedlings)
  • Containers
  • Potting soil (do not use top soil or yard soil. Potting soil is lighter and doens’t compact in a pot the way topsoil does)

A 12-inch pot is best for kale. It doesn’t need a great big pot, but it does need some room to grow. Luckily, kale is not very finicky, so you don’t have to worry about it that much. Make sure your pot or container has holes in the bottom for drainage too.

Next, you’ll sow the seeds indoors. You can plant them in January for spring growing outside, or in August for fall/winter growing. Or anytime if you’re growing them indoors.

Sow your seeds or plants 4 inches apart at least. So if you have a 12-inch pot, you could do 2 plants or even four.

Make sure not to let the soil dry out completely. You’ll need to water it at least once a week. It takes about 2 months to start harvesting kale. Make sure the leaves are about the size of your hand.

Kale growing in a raised bed container with marigolds and other vegetables

Growing kale indoors

Because kale only needs about 6 hours of sunlight a day unlike most vegetables that need 8 or more, you can put it in a sunny window and it will grow! It would probably thrive more with a grow light added, but you could do it in a south window.

When grown for microgreens, kale is ready in just a few weeks. If you’re growing full-size kale, the process can take about two months.

Growing kale indoors also helps cut down on the risk for pests and even certain diseases. As long as you start with clean seeds or transplants and use a sterile potting mix, the kale will be free from aphids, cabbage worms, and other insect pests.

While you can grow any type of kale indoors, choosing a dwarf variety can be ideal. Dwarf varieties, such as Dwarf Blue Curled, usually grow to no more than a foot tall and about a foot wide.

If you’re using artificial light to grow kale indoors, don’t leave the light on 24 hours a day. Not only will doing that leave you with a high electric bill, but it will give the plants too much light. One way to give them enough, but not too much light, is to turn the lights on in the morning and off in the evening.

kale chopped up in a skillet

Vegetables that grow in shallow containers

There are other vegetables that grow well in shallow containers:

If you get too much kale, here’s what you can do with excess greens from the garden.

I’m excited for you to try growing your own kale in a container. Whether you decide to grow microgreens or full grow plants or you grow them inside or outside, kale is a versatile green that grows in versatile conditions. It’s a great easy plant to grow for beginner gardeners!

Check out this month by month garden planting guide for when to plant what in the garden. There’s a free printable version in there as well so you can always have it at your fingertips!

For more bucket gardening ideas, check these out:

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