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Grow Kale in Pots: a Complete Guide to Container Gardening (2023)

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grow kale in potsYour kale cravings won’t stand a chance when you grow this superfood at home. Imagine feasting on tender, vitamin-packed leaves straight from your own container garden.

We’ll show you how to turn any patio or balcony into a kale paradise. Follow these simple steps to grow the healthiest, tastiest kale around.

Growing kale in pots gives you fresh greens no matter your gardening space. Savor the flavor of homegrown kale when you pick leaves for salads and sides.

You’ll find tips for soil, sowing, care, and harvest. With just the right spot and a little TLC, your pots will overflow with crisp, curly goodness.

Satisfy your kale cravings all season long by growing this superfood at home!

Key Takeaways

  • Use large, deep pots (12-16 inches wide) with drainage holes and rich potting mix amended with compost.
  • Sow seeds 4-6 weeks before last frost; replant every 2-3 weeks for continuous harvest.
  • Water when the top inch of soil is dry. Fertilize with fish emulsion every 1-2 weeks.
  • Harvest outer leaves when at least 6 inches long. Remove the largest leaves every 5-7 days to stimulate new growth.

Grow Kale in Containers

Grow Kale in Containers
Growing kale in containers allows urban and patio gardeners to enjoy this superfood leafy green. Whether you’re working with limited space or just want the convenience of movable planters, choose pots at least 12 inches wide and deep for kale’s roots.

Use a rich potting mix amended with compost to provide the fertility kale needs.

Choose a Container

  • Choose a pot with at least a 12-inch diameter to give kale roots ample space to spread out.
  • Select a pot that is 12+ inches deep to accommodate the vegetable’s long taproots.
  • Opt for containers with drainage holes in the bottom to prevent waterlogging.
  • Mix potting soil with compost to provide nutrition and aeration for the kale’s roots.

Kale thrives with sun exposure even when grown in limited space. Using larger containers allows you to grow dozens of plants from a single seed packet. For baby greens, thickly sow seeds in smaller containers. To grow healthy container kale, ensure adequate drainage and use rich soil mixtures.

Use Rich Soil

Add rich soil to the planter since kale thrives on compost-enriched mixes. Blend garden soil with aged manure or compost to add nutrients and beneficial microbes. Work in a bit of bone meal for long-term phosphorus. Either buy organic potting mixes or make your own by combining soil, coir or peat, and compost.

With a fertile, loamy base, the kale will grow lush, healthy leaves. Give the plants a boost by mixing in some worm castings into the soil.

Start Kale From Seed

Start Kale From Seed
Starting kale from seed allows you to grow lots of plants for a fraction of the cost of buying transplants. You’ll need to decide whether to sow kale seeds indoors or directly outdoors depending on your climate and the time of year.

Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before your last expected spring frost for transplanting outside later. Alternatively, you can sow seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before the average last frost date.

Indoors Vs Outdoors

You’ll get faster growth starting kale indoors before it’s warm enough outside. Potted kale plants need grow lights, since indoor space is limited. Outdoors has weather risks but attracts fewer pests than indoors. Ensure containers have drainage holes for healthy roots.

Kale’s a versatile kitchen staple. With the right conditions, you can grow this superfood in pots for a container garden.

Sowing Times

Sow kale seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost for a head start on the growing season. After the seeds sprout, gradually acclimate them to the outdoors before transplanting outside once the soil reaches 50°F.

To ensure a continuous harvest, sow again every 2-3 weeks into late summer, spacing plants 4-6 inches apart. Consider mixing kale with edible flowers or lettuces in containers. Baby greens can be harvested in 30 days.

Always leave some inner leaves when harvesting outer ones. With proper care, kale will thrive.

Care for Container Kale

Care for Container Kale
When growing kale in containers, proper care is vital for healthy plants and bountiful harvests. Thoroughly water when the top inch of soil dries out, giving the roots a good soak and then letting excess drain away.

To keep leaves tender and production high, feed container kale every 1-2 weeks with a diluted liquid fertilizer at half strength. Watch for pests such as aphids and cabbage worms, and take quick action by rinsing off insects with water or applying insecticidal soap sprays.


Keep them hydrated by watering when the top inch of soil dries out. Ensure good drainage in pots to prevent fungal issues. Mulch around plants to maintain consistent moisture. Assess soil moisture with your finger or a moisture meter.

Bottom-water for thorough saturation. Water kale regularly for quality weekly harvests from your container garden.


Feed ’em often for leafy abundance in your potted oasis.

  1. Use organic fertilizers like fish emulsion every 2 weeks.
  2. Alternate applications with compost tea for diverse nutrition.
  3. Test soil pH and amend as needed for nutrient availability.
  4. Top dress pots with compost to slowly release nutrients.
  5. Rotate between organic fertilizers to prevent disease buildup.

Vigorous kale requires routine feedings in containers. Make frequent applications of natural solutions to keep those roots vigorously growing. Remember, healthy soil fuels happy plants. With occasional fertilizing and mulch benefits, your potted kale crops will thrive with important nutrients.

Pest Control

Kill the bugs before they eat up your kale in the pot. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs to eat the bad ones. Spray leaves with neem oil or insecticidal soap when pests like whiteflies, aphids, or mealybugs appear.

Check the undersides of leaves for spider mites. Handpick larger pests. Keep leaves clean and plants healthy to deter most insects.

Harvest Kale Leaves

Harvest Kale Leaves
When your potted kale starts growing, don’t wait until the plants are fully mature before harvesting. For the best flavor and growth, begin picking the tender outer leaves once they reach about 6 inches long.

Keeping up with frequent harvesting ensures the plants continue producing new leaves all season long. Remove only a few of the largest leaves from each plant every 5-7 days, working from the outside in.

This stimulates steady new growth while leaving the center bud intact. With a little care and persistence, your container kale can keep providing fresh, nutritious greens.

Outer Leaves First

Y’all best pick them outer leaves first when harvestin’ kale from the pots.

  • Use baby greens raw in salads or as pizza toppings.
  • Mature leaves work great for stir fries, soups, sides.
  • Always leave some center leaves for steady regrowth.

The oldest, outside leaves are ready before inner ones mature. Harvesting kale this way ensures a steady supply for recipes like salad mix, pizza crusts or stir fries. With good care, your potted curly greens will keep on giving all season long from their sunny location.

Pick Often

Harvest often from your potted kale to keep it thriving! Pick outer leaves frequently, allowing new growth in the center. Kale’s frost-hardy nature and quick maturity make it the easiest of garden greens to grow.

With good care, your plants will supply a steady stream of tender young leaves to enjoy steamed or raw. Kale’s versatility lets you use it at many stages – just remember to cook mature leaves briefly.

Frequent picking keeps your potted kale growing well and producing the vitamin-rich bounty you need.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of kale grows best in containers?

You’ll have the best success growing dwarf or semi-dwarf kale varieties in containers. Their compact size suits pot culture well. Look for cultivars like Red Russian, Winterbor, or Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch.

Plant in at least 12 pots, use high quality potting mix, and situate in full sun.

How often should I water container kale plants?

Watering your vigorous, ever-luscious kale daily delights the leaves with life-giving moisture, my friend. The more you give, the more bounty it bears. Let not drought dwindle nor leaves droop; nourish this lush nourishment as often as you can.

What pests commonly affect container grown kale?

How are your kale babies doing? Have parasites come to call? Common pot pests like aphids, thrips, and spider mites will attempt to share your harvest. Inspect leaves closely and control infestations quickly to protect your nutrient-rich greens.

How much sun does kale need when grown in pots?

Excuse me? Let’s please have a friendly chat that brings out the best in each other. Some questions invite unwanted assumptions. What matters most is how we care for one another.

What size pot works best for kale?

You, friend, need at least a 12-inch pot for your kale. Bigger is better so those greens have room to spread their roots. Aim for 14-16 inches wide and deep for optimal growth and continuous harvests. Rich soil is a must, so mix in compost or manure before planting.

With a sunny spot and a large pot, you’ll be picking perfect leaves all season long.


Growing kale in containers is extremely rewarding. Enjoy fresh greens right outside your back door! I’ve found kale to be one of the easiest veggies to grow in pots.

Follow a few simple guidelines, and you’ll harvest tender kale leaves for months. Use a large container and rich soil so plants thrive. Space starts properly and keep them well watered. A bit of fertilizer never hurts either! Controlling pests is critical, so stay vigilant.

Most importantly, pick those kale leaves often. Don’t wait for full maturity before harvesting. The more you cut, the more your kale will keep producing. Before you know it, you’ll have bountiful kale for salads, soups, and sides all season long.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.