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Kale, Red Russian

Short Description

HEIRLOOM. Delicious grey-green leaves turn purple in cold weather.

Full Description

This delicious grey-green kale is pretty enough to plant among the flowers. Much larger than regular kale (2 to 3' tall), the stems are purplish and the leaves are shaped like big oak leaves and colored a velvety gray green. The purple colors become richer after frost, when the flavor becomes sweeter. Surprisingly, the big leaves are very tender and delicious. Garden Hints: Kale requires good cultivation; mulch or hoe frequently to keep soil loose and weed-free. Plants may be left outdoors all winter. Frost improves flavor.
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Item#: 51391A
Order: 1 Pkt. (500 seeds)
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Kale, Red Russian
Kale, Red Russian, , large
Item #: 51391A
1 Pkt. (500 seeds)
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

60 days

Leaf Texture The typical height of this product at maturity.


Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

12 inches

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

24-36 inches

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Direct Sow/Indoor Sow

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Meet the Brassica family- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale
Planted in Spring or for Fall these fun favorites are packed with nutrition and are very easy to grow.
Watch video
Growing Kale
Learn how to plant and grow kale from Burpee's expert horticulturist.
Watch video

How to Sow and Plant

Kale may be direct sown for a spring and fall crop, or purchased as transplants for a fall crop.

Sowing Directly in the Garden:

  • Sow in full sun in early spring and in midsummer for fall crop.
  • In the Deep South, gulf, and pacific coast areas, sow from fall to early spring.
  • Plant seeds evenly and thinly and cover with ¼ inch of soil.
  • Firm lightly and water gently.
  • Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days.

Planting from Transplants in Fall:

  • Kale prefers rich, well-drained soil, and can tolerate some shade. Avoid areas where any member of the cabbage family grew the year before.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
  • Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball. Space plants 1 – 1½ feet apart in rows 2 feet apart.
  • Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development. 
  • Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
  • Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. Avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding.
  • Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area. While small, floating row covers will help to keep pests at bay.

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Harvest kale after first frost if you prefer a sweeter flavor.
  • Pick the outer leaves as needed once they reach 6-8 inches long about 55-60 days after transplanting.
  • Leave the central bud since it will grow new leaves.
  • Store kale in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Wash when ready to use.
  • Use kale as a substitute for lettuce, cooked cabbage and collards.
Days To Maturity
60 days
Leaf Texture
Full Sun
12 inches
24-36 inches
Sow Method
Direct Sow/Indoor Sow
Planting Time
Fall, Spring
Sow Time
2-4 weeks BLF
12 inches
Life Cycle
Kale, Red Russian is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 7.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatness This is beautiful and tasty! I use every ounce of each leaf including the stems. I chop the seems up like celery and cook them in soups or sauté them!! The taste is out of this world in regards to its gray robust flavor.
Date published: 2014-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb buttery flavor I live in the desert SW at an elevation of 3500'. Summer temps are usually above 100 and it is very dry -- about 8" of rainfall per year. Winter temps don't get below freezing often, but can dip into the high teens on occasion. Three years ago I placed three Red Russian Kale plants in 6" containers and to my surprise they not only did well, though they remained small, but overwintered (I placed the pots under a nectarine tree) and started producing each spring. They never bolted, which also surprised me. This year I transplanted them into a new raised bed and boy did they take off. I had more buttery, delicious kale than I could handle from just three plants. They did bolt this year so I saved seed, but I cut them back and my goal is to get these same plants to overwinter again (I'll low hoop house the raised bed). I will grow Red Russian kale every year from now on -- though I'm also going to try Lacinado next year. The leaves don't ever seem to get bitter unless you pick really old ones. This is the best kale I've ever planted or eaten.
Date published: 2014-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful plant! Hardy and tasty! This is a wonderful tasting kale, not bitter like the kinds you find in the grocery stores. Even my husband, who despises all greens except spinach, likes this one. You can eat the young leaves raw in salads, and larger leaves cooked in any manner. My mother prefers sauteed with olive oil and garlic. The plants lasted through the quick frosts of Florida winter at its worst, and now it is still going through temps in the 90s. As the weather warms up, the leaves get a little tangier, but still not as bitter as grocery store varieties. It is beginning to struggle now, however. The leaves we harvest don't regrow as quickly in the high heat. I will definitely be replanting this one in the fall!
Date published: 2014-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Giant Yields of Delicious Kale I did a direct sowing of this in late April, zone 5, and even in the intense heat and heavy rains we've experienced this variety has far exceeded my expectations. The giant, gorgeous leaves are incredibly tender and tasty. This is so delicious, I will definitely be doing a fall planting this year as well.
Date published: 2011-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best greens ever! I grew Red Russian Kale last year for the first time. This type of kale is impossible to find in the stores. They can be home canned. You can distinguish this breed by it's purple stem and globe-edged leaves. They have such a mellow taste that even my fussy kids ate them. I got rather creative one day and threw them in a pot with chicken broth, onions, cooked breakfast sausage, and red potatoes. The family just loved it, and we thought it was our own little garden concoction. Since then, I found out it is pretty close to an old Portuguese Potato Soup recipe. Unbelievably good!
Date published: 2011-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Flavor Kale is one of those little known veggies, but it should be in everyone's garden. It is very high in calcium and just delicious used as greens in salad, on a sandwich, or steamed with butter and garlic. You gotta try it!
Date published: 2010-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy Growing Great taste I grew this in my garden in WV in late fall last year. It grew quickly and had a great flavor. I am definately growing it again. I just cut what I needed for a meal and let it continue to grow.
Date published: 2010-01-09
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