25
September
2013

Ornamental Mustards

MUST-mainOver the years, Ornamental Mustards have gained a name for themselves. Certainly, we have seen the popularity of our cultivars grow since we introduced them to our autumn schedule. It’s no wonder—mustards are surprisingly decorative even in salads. When allowed to mature to full size, they make an intriguing garnish for the front yard as well.

We see a lot of Ornamental Mustards used in containers and large pots, where they thrive well into the cold season. As an edible, Ornamental Mustard is the perfect choice for decks or patios in close proximity to the kitchen—grazing down the plant will just make it more vigorous.

‘Dragon’s Tongue’ in 6-inch and 8-inch pots

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Technically, all mustards are edible—even the Ornamental Mustards we sell—but we grow them mainly for their good looks. ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ is a cultivar that happens to be handsome as well as delicious. In a 6-inch pot, we call it an Edible Mustard, ideal for salads and soups; grown out larger in an 8-inch pot, ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ becomes a showy Ornamental Mustard.

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A heritage variety from India, it is probably the splashiest mustard we have seen. Crinkled and frilly, the young leaves are bright green. As plants mature, lines of purple begin to creep along the edges of the leaves; older leaves darken, and the purple veining begins to creep into the body of the leaf itself. Such a color transformation is dramatic by any standard.

Leaves on older plants still provide a mild, peppery kick and a full flavor that is not too spicy. A light frost will sweeten the leaves, so they won’t need to be cooked as long to bring out their savory flavor.

‘Red Giant’ in 8-inch

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This cultivar kick-started the Ornamental Mustards for us, and its popularity has grown over the years. It is an Asian cultivar, like most mustards. ‘Red Giant’ has huge leaves that are dark red on the top and bright green underneath. The color becomes more intense as the plant matures, and it pervades all the leaves instead of concentrating in the center like an ornamental kale or cabbage. We've seen some specimens go deep purple and almost black when given full sun. Finally, a thin white mid-rib paints a stripe up the center of each leaf.

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Mustard is a good first-time crop for urban gardeners or for beginners. Plants are very easy to grow out, a cinch to maintain, and last a long time into the season looking great.

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Diefenbacher Greenhouses is a supplier of annuals and creative green goods. We sell directly to Garden Centers and Landscapers in the Cincinnati Area. 

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