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represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Gulf Coast Research
and Education Center
5007 60th St. E., Bradenton, Florida 34203-9324
9 Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
....... University of Florida
. 3 1992
GULF COAST RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER
IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
5007 60TH Street East
Bradenton, FL 34203
Bradenton GCREC Research Report BRA1992-3 February
COLOR DEVELOPMENT PROBLEMS OF ORNAMENTAL CABBAGE
T. K. Howe, B. K. Harbaugh and W. E. Waters'
The popularity of ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Acephala group)
for winter bedding plant use is due to the striking foliar hues which range
from combinations of green and white, to green and pink, to purplish-green
and fuchsia (called red). The combinations of leaf color and shape produce
eye-catching color and texture unique among bedding plants. Forty-three
cultivars of ornamental cabbage and kale were evaluated in the winters of
86-87 and 87-88 (Howe & Waters, 1989). In two consecutive winters seasons,
plants were extremely vigorous and of uniform size and shape, but the
vibrant color characteristic of ornamental cabbage was not optimal. Night
temperatures of 60 OF (Takii, 1991) or more commonly 50 OF (Sakata, 1991;
Healy, 1991) are cited as necessary for intense color development of
ornamental cabbage. While night temperatures at or below 50 OF are common
in south-central Florida during winter months (Stanley, 1991), these low
temperatures do not last the constant 3 to 4 weeks necessary for optimal
coloration. During the test years, many nights of temperatures above 50 F
occurred and may have resulted in the suboptimal coloration observed,
especially in the 1987-88 season. The differences in color development
among the cultivars in the 1987-88 season prompted us to evaluate these
cultivars for coloration characteristics when grown under night temperatures
above the optimal 50 OF (Table 1).
Reduced fertilizer rates have been suggested as a way to induce coloring.
Therefore, this study was done to determine if low fertilization rates would
counteract high night temperatures and increase coloration of ornamental
cabbage grown where night temperatures often exceed 50 OF.
Materials and Methods
Transplant production. Seed of ornamental cabbage cultivars Osaka Pink and
Color Up Pink were sown on October 16, 1989. 'Osaka Pink' was chosen
because of its poor rating on color intensity in 1987-88 season (Howe &
Waters, 1989), and 'Color Up Pink' was chosen because it rated the best in
the same season. Seed were sown directly in 1.5 x 1.5 x 2.5 inch
containerized cells filled with Canadian peat:coarse vermiculite transplant
1Research Program Coordinator, Ornamental Horticulturist and Center
mix (1:1) amended with dolomite, superphosphate and minor elements.
Transplants received soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) as needed during
Field preparation and crop management. Beds of EauGallie fine sand were
formed to a width of 32 inches and a height of 8 inches on 5 ft centers.
Osmocote(R 14-14-14 was applied to the bed surface and incorporated to a
depth of 2 inches at rates of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 or 600 pounds of
nitrogen per bed acre calculated as land area confined to the raised bed
(width of raised bed x length) exclusive of aisle. Beds were fumigated
with methylbromide:chloropicrin 67:33 and covered with white-on-black
polyethylene mulch. The fields were in full sun and irrigated by seepage
irrigation with lateral ditches spaced every six beds.
On November 20, 1989, six plants were transplanted to four foot plots with
12 inch staggered spacing giving three rows across the bed. A 1 foot
unfertilized border was left between treatment plots which prevented
movement of fertilizer between plots. There were four replications of the
12 treatments (six fertilizer rates x two cultivars).
Data collection. Plant height and width were measured on February 7, 1990.
One complete leaf was detached midway up the stem from each plant in
treatment plots on February 21, 1990 for analysis of leaf tissue nitrogen.
The average night temperature for December 1989 was 46 OF (Stanley, 1990).
However, prolonged periods of cool night temperatures needed for induction
of foliar coloration were interrupted by ten nights where temperatures were
above 52 OF. Further, proper induction temperatures were not met during
January, 1990, with an average night temperature of 55 OF.
Plants of both cultivars remained green in all treatments without the
development of pink coloration. Plant height was not affected by
fertilization rate, except with the 600 pound N/Acre rate for 'Color Up
Pink' where a slight decrease in height was observed (Table 2). There was
a slight linear trend for increasing plant width as fertilization
increased. Fertilization rates had the most significant effect on leaf
tissue nitrogen with increasing fertilization rates causing a linear
increase in leaf nitrogen.
In summary, while plant size was not affected greatly, the nutrient status
of the plant was influenced by fertilization practices. If our hypothesis
had been correct, we would have expected increasing color development with
decreasing levels of leaf tissue nitrogen. These results indicate
fertilization practices can not overcome the lack of uninterrupted cool
With the completion of this test, we had grown ornamental cabbage during
three winter seasons. Only in one of the three years did plants develop
enough color to illicit interest and enthusiasm for their use as winter
bedding plants. Unless other cultural practices are found which can induce
coloration of ornamental cabbage in warm climates, or unless heat tolerant
lines are developed, their use as a bedding plant should be considered
cautiously for central and south Florida.
Note: The information contained in this report is a summary of experimental
results and are not recommendations for crop production. Where trade names
are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.
Acknowledgement: The authors wish to thank Grace-Sierra Horticultural
Products for the contribution of Osmocote Fertilizer used in this study.
1. American Takii Inc. 1991. Cultural information on flowering kale.
Company Fact Sheet.
2. Healy, W. 1991. Personal communication. Univ. of Maryland.
3. Howe, T. K. and W. E. Waters. 1989. Evaluation of ornamental
cabbage and kale as bedding plants during two winter seasons.
Bradenton GCREC Research Report BRA1989-10.
4. Sakata Seed America Inc. 1991. Cultural information for F-1
hybrid flowering kales and flowering cabbages. Company Fact Sheet.
5. Stanley, C. D. 1990. Temperature and rainfall report for 1989.
Bradenton GCREC Research Report BRA1990-05.
Table 1. Foliage color intensity rating
of ornamental cabbage during 1987-1988
Smooth Leaf Types Fringed Leaf Typesy
Cultivar Color RatingX Cultivar Color Ratinqx
Color Up Mix 3.4 Beauty, Pink 2.4
Color Up Pink 3.9 Bouquet, Rose 2.9
Color Up Red 3.1 Chidori Red 2.8
Color Up White 3.9 Chidori White 2.0
Dynasty Mix 2.8 Coral Prince 3.5
Dynasty Pink 2.3 Feather, Red 2.9
Dynasty Red 2.4 Feather, White 2.8
Dynasty White 2.5 Fringe Red on Green 1.6
Osaka Mix 2.1 Kamone, Red 2.0
Osaka Pink 2.1 Kamone, White 3.0
Osaka Red 2.6 Lady, White 1.4
Osaka White 2.5 Nagoya Red 2.6
Tokyo Mix 2.9 Nagoya White 2.4
Tokyo Pink 3.0 Peacock, Red 2.6
Tokyo Red 3.3 Peacock, White 3.5
Tokyo White 3.3 Pigeon, Red 2.1
White Xmas 3.0 Pigeon, White 1.6
Prima Donna 1.8
zRefer to Bradenton GCREC Research Report BRA1989-10 for more complete results.
YAlso known as ornamental kale.
XRated as 1 = poor to 5 = excellent.
Table 2. Effect of fertilization rate on plant height, plant
width and leaf tissue nitrogen of 'Osaka' and 'Color Up
Pink' ornamental cabbage.
'Osaka Pink' 'Color Up Pink'
Fertilizerz Plant Plant Leaf N Plant Plant Leaf N
Rate height width (%) height width (%)
(Ibs N/Acre) (in.) (in.) (in.) (in.)
100 15.5 16.9 2.8 11.1 16.0 3.2
200 16.3 17.7 3.1 11.2 14.2 3.8
300 15.2 17.3 2.9 11.4 16.2 3.8
400 15.9 18.2 3.3 11.6 16.2 4.1
500 16.3 17.5 3.6 11.8 16.0 4.7
600 15.8 17.7 3.9 10.9 16.7 4.3
Linear NSY 0.09 0.01 NS 0.07 0.01
Quadratic NS NS 0.07 0.04 NS 0.08
ZFertilizer applied as Osmocote 14-14-14 and rate was based on
land area confined to the raised bed area (width of raised bed
YNS=Nonsignificant if P>0.10.
The Gulf Coast Research and Education Center
The Gulf Coast Research and Education Center is
a unit of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sci-
ences, University of Florida. The Research Center
originated in the fall of 1925 as the Tomato
Disease Laboratory with the primary objective of
developing control procedures for an epidemic out-
break of nailhead spot of tomato. Research was ex-
panded in subsequent years to include study of sev-
eral other tomato diseases.
In 1937, new research facilities were established
in the town of Manatee, and the Center scope was
enlarged to include horticultural, entomological, and
soil science studies of several vegetable crops. The
ornamental program was a natural addition to the
Center's responsibilities because of the emerging in-
dustry in the area in the early 1940's.
The Center's current location was established in
1965 where a comprehensive research and extension
program on vegetable crops and ornamental plants is
conducted. Three state extension specialists posi-
tions, 16 state research scientists, and two grant
supported scientists from various disciplines of
training participate in all phases of vegetable and
ornamental horticultural programs. This interdisci-
plinary team approach, combining several research
disciplines and a wide range of industry and faculty
contacts, often is more productive than could be ac-
complished with limited investments in independent
The Center's primary mission is to develop new
and expand existing knowledge and technology, and
to disseminate new scientific knowledge in Florida, so
that agriculture remains efficient and economically
The secondary mission of the Center is to assist
the Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS campus
departments, in which Center faculty hold appropri-
ate liaison appointments, and other research centers
in extension, educational training, and cooperative
research programs for the benefit of Florida's pro-
ducers, students, and citizens.
Program areas of emphasis include: (1) genetics,
breeding, and variety development and evaluation;
(2) biological, chemical, and mechanical pest manage-
ment in entomology, plant pathology, nematology,
bacteriology, virology, and weed science; (3) produc-
tion efficiency, culture, management, and counteract-
ing environmental stress; (4) water management and
natural resource protection; (5) post-harvest physiol-
ogy, harvesting, handling and food quality of horti-
cultural crops; (6) technical support and assistance to
the Florida Cooperative Extension Service; and (7)
advancement offundamental knowledge ofdisciplines
represented by faculty and (8) directing graduate
student training and teaching special undergraduate
" The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida.
" A statewide organization dedicated to teaching,
research and extension.
" Faculty located in Gainesville and at 13 research
and education centers, 67 county extension
offices and four demonstration units throughout
" A partnership in food and agriculture, and natural
and renewable resource research and education,
funded by state, federal and local government,
and by gifts and grants from individuals, founda-
tions, government and industry.
" An organization whose mission is:
Educating students in the food, agricultural,
and related sciences and natural resources.
Strengthening Florida's diverse food and
agricultural industry and its environment
Enhancing for all Floridians, the application
of research and knowledge to improve the
quality of life statewide through IFAS exten-