Can You Prune Cabbage: Information On Pruning Cabbage Leaves

working with ripe cabbage in the garden
Image by nanoqfu

By Amy Grant

Cabbages are a relatively easy vegetable to grow, but as with any garden crop, they are prone to some issues. Perhaps the leaves are touching the ground and beginning to rot, or leaves are hanging over other crops because the plant hasn’t headed yet. The answer would be in pruning the cabbage leaves, but can you prune cabbage? Let’s find out.

Can You Prune Cabbage?

Cabbages are cool season veggies that have a long shelf life of several weeks when kept in the refrigerator. Prior to harvest, cabbage must be nurtured and maintained as it grows and part of this maintenance may include pruning cabbage plants. So, the answer is yes, pruning cabbage plants is possible and, in some cases, necessary.


The purpose of pruning cabbage leaves back is to create overall healthier plants. Along with cabbage pruning, maintenance may also involve actual thinning. Thinning the cabbage is different than pruning and involves the removal of an entire plant, usually seedlings that were direct sown into the garden and are beginning to crowd each other. This allows space for the plant to mature and thrive.

Either technique is used to promote the growth of healthy, productive plants and remove portions or entire plants that are not healthy or living up to your expectations. Cabbage pruning will allow the plant to focus all of its energy on becoming a healthy specimen.

How to Trim Cabbage

In some cases, pruning cabbage leaves may occur at any juncture of growth; for instance, the removal of leaves that are dragging on the ground and becoming ratty from being trod on, eaten, or mildewed. In other cases, the cabbage should be allowed to bloom.

Remove unhealthy or limp leaves by either tearing them away or pruning with scissors or pruners. Also, sometimes you wish to remove what appear to be perfectly healthy leaves because they are encroaching on other plants prior to heading. Go for it, but don’t throw the leaves away. This often occurs during the late spring months when the plant is growing rapidly and, as such, those trimmed back greens are often called “spring greens” and are delicious.

Keep in mind, in the leaves of the cabbage lays the industry of the entire cabbage, so it is in the plants best interest to keep it free of unhealthy foliage.

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