Don’t let limited space keep you from enjoying delicious home-grown kale! No matter the size of your garden, we’ll show you how to produce a bountiful kale crop in containers all season long.
The first thing to consider when growing kale in a container is what kind of pot you’re going to use.
Kale have a fairly large root system, so it’s important they have ample room to grow. When in doubt, five-gallon buckets (or a container of similar size) are a great option for kale. But if you’re looking to get technical, a good rule of thumb is to aim for a container that is roughly 577 cubic inches (9,455 cubic centimetres) in size.
Depending on the size of the pot you’re using, you can also put two or three kale plants in one container. Growing multiple kale in one pot is a great way to increase yield while working with limited space. It’s typically suggested to space kale plants 1 - 2 feet (30 - 60 centimetres) away from each other. But for most varieties, you can get away with packing kale in a little tighter than this.
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Plastic pots, terracotta, and fabric grow bags all make fine containers for kale. When choosing a pot to plant kale in, the type of material it’s made out of doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is how well that material releases excess water.
Poor drainage is the number one killer of kale grown in pots. If your kale sit in standing water for too long, their roots will rot and the plants will likely wither away.
If you’re using a plastic container for growing kale, it’s crucial there are 2 - 4 holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain.
Terracotta pots, along with fabric grow bags, are a great container option for kale because they are naturally porous. Most terracotta pots also come with a hole in the bottom for additional drainage.
If growing your kale in grow bags, be sure to test how well they drain before planting. If water doesn’t leak through the bag quickly, you may want to add one or two holes to the bottom to keep the roots of your kale plant healthy and happy.
Drainage also plays a key part in the type of soil you choose for kale containers.
Traditional soil, such as the type of dirt you can dig up in your backyard, is much too dense for kale planted in pots. It will trap moisture in the container to the point where it can cause fungal issues for kale as well as root rot.
Instead, opt for potting soil or soil specifically designated as safe for container gardening. Avoid all others.
Hopefully by now you’ve seen that growing kale in pots is pretty easy so long as you have the right container and right soil.
The key, as stated before, is drainage. You will likely notice that kale grown in containers are much thirstier than kale grown in a traditional garden bed. Be sure to adjust your schedule to water more frequently.
Of course, the same rules apply to container grown kale that apply to kale grown in a traditional garden, such as the amount of sunlight they need and when to plant them. You can find that information (and more!) in our complete guide on growing kale.