Cabbage Varieties - What's the Difference?

cabbage varieties

There are several cabbage varieties available to the backyard vegetable gardener. They vary in size and taste. Smaller varieties tend to mature faster, while larger varieties take a little longer. If you live in an area with a short spring season, you may want to plant smaller varieties in the beginning of the year. If the fall season tends to last a little longer, you can plant a larger variety then.

In our own garden, we like to grow fast maturing cabbage varieties in the spring.  This way, it grows, matures and gets picked before we have to worry about hot summer weather setting in. With larger varieties that take longer to mature, we inevitably would have to worry about the plant bolting and turning bitter if we tried to grow them in the spring.

For the most part, we grow cabbage in the spring that is ready in less than 60 days from the time we transplant the seedlings.  These include Chinese cabbage types, along with other loose-leaf cabbage varieties, and more traditional cabbage with smaller heads.  These are the cabbages that we like to eat fresh throughout the growing season.  For this reason, we like to choose varieties that mature at different times.  This way, we get to eat fresh cabbage for several weeks in the spring.

For our fall crop, we grow the larger varieties that take 70+ days to mature.  While we do harvest and eat some of our fall cabbage right away, most of it is kept for storage in our root cellar or made into sauerkraut.  We find that the bigger varieties tend to store better.  In addition, in our area, we don't have to worry about the weather turning hot in the fall months like we do in the spring.  Because of our climate, larger cabbage grows well in the fall months in our area.

When choosing a cabbage variety to grow, think about your climate and what types of cabbage you want to eat.  Also think about how you might be able to store the cabbage you grow and what you plan on using the cabbage for.  If you want cabbage to put in a stir-fry, look for Chinese types.  If you want red cabbage for coleslaw, look for varieties that produce red heads.  If you want big heads to store for the winter, look for the larger varieties.

Here is a list of some common varieties of cabbage, along with plant descriptions, etc...

Green Cabbage Heads

  • Earliana - heads average 5 inches across and weigh about 2 pounds, good flavor, ready in 60 days after transplanting, light green outside and creamy white inside

  • Orient Express - this Chinese cabbage variety matures in 45 days from seed, small heads average 1 1/2 pounds, dense center with dark green outer leaves, peppery and sweet flavor, good crisp texture

  • King Slaw - this large variety averages 15 pounds, ready in 105 days from seed, large blue/green outer leaves, creamy white center is dense, mild flavor

    • Two Seasons - this Chinese variety is oblong in shape, averaging 10 inches tall and 7 inches across, dense leafy center is creamy yellow, light green outer leaves, matures in about 65 days after transplanting, sweet and tangy flavor

    Red Cabbage Heads
  • Salad Delight - this red cabbage matures in 50 days after transplanting, heads are maroon in color and average 3 pounds, inside is dense and almost purple in color with distinct white ribs throughout, sweet and peppery flavor

  • Early Flat Dutch - this variety features light green outer leaves and a creamy white center, heads average 8 pounds, ready in 80 days after transplanting, dense heads are more flat than other varieties

  • Early Jersey Wakefield - this variety matures in 70 days after transplanting, heads average 3 pounds, dark green outer leaves and a light colored center, head is almost cone shaped and dense and features a sweet flavor, holds well for a couple of weeks on the plant after maturity

  • Golden Cross - this cabbage variety matures in 45 days after transplanting, small green heads average 2 pounds and are about the size of a softball, medium green outer leaves and a creamy white center, heads are tight and well-formed, sweet flavor

    • Stonehead - this variety features very dense heads, light green outer leaves and creamy white center, holds well on plant for a couple of weeks, round heads average 3 1/2 pounds, matures in 50 days after transplanting, sweet and peppery flavor

    Mature Cabbage Plant

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    Click here to learn about fertilizing and watering cabbage plants

    Click here for information about harvesting cabbage

    Click here for some of our favorite cabbage recipes

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