How to Grow Winter Cabbage

Winter cabbages are some of the largest and most ornamental of the cabbage family, and include blue-green Savoys and red-tinged ‘January King’. Both are worthy of a place in a mixed border in their own right. Winter cabbages require plenty of space and a rich soil, but will reward you with a very heavy crop and are a useful source of fresh winter greens, too. They are grown in a similar way to summer cabbages, though they do not need to be sown until later in the spring. Some types are hardy enough to stand outside over winter, until you need them, while others can be cut in the autumn and stored indoors.

You may come across three distinct types:

Dutch White – These are familiar as the huge pale-green balls you often see in supermarkets. They are best cut in November and stored indoors. ‘Holland Winter White’ is a large, round Dutch White type.

January King – These varieties are prettily colored and hardy enough to stand outdoors over winter. ‘January King – Hardy Late Stock No 3’ is an attractive plant with slightly frilly outer leaves and a flattened ball-shaped head, all tinged with purple. It should stand well over the winter.

Savoy – These have crinkled outer leaves and are also hardy. ‘Celtic’ is a cross between a Dutch White and a Savoy cabbage. It is hardy enough to stand over winter, or can be cut and stored like other Dutch Whites. It was the best overall in a Gardening Which? taste test, with good texture and flavor, both raw and cooked. ‘Colorsa’ is an interesting newcomer – a cross between a Savoy and a red cabbage, with red-tinged, crinkled leaves. Plants should stand outside from September to January. ‘Rigoletto’ is a newer Savoy with very crinkled leaves. It is hardy and should stand through to March. ‘Tundra’ is claimed to be the hardiest of all winter cabbages.



Sow winter cabbages, either in small pots or in a seedbed.


Plant out the young plants into their final position. Allow a space 45cm in diameter per plant, though in well-grown plants, the outer leaves may spread even further. Scatter a generous amount of fertilizer before planting. If the soil is dry, make a shallow depression, flood with water and when this has soaked in, plant the cabbages. It is worth planting a quick catch crop to occupy the space around them until they reach full size. Lettuce, radishes or turnips are all suitable.

Bear in mind that, at this time of year, pests are likely to be a nuisance, so cover plants straight away with garden fleece or fine netting, if possible.


Watch out for pests and diseases. Water in dry spells.


Harvest Dutch White cabbages for storing indoors. Other winter cabbages will stand outside until required. Protect overwintered plants from Young winter cabbages pigeons and rabbits.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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