How To Grow A Collard Tree - Tips & Techniques

How To Grow A Collard Tree - Tips & Techniques

Perennial vegetables that are regularly produced in North America are few and far between. Most gardeners are only familiar with asparagus, artichokes, and rhubarb. It's odd, therefore, that tree collards, a tasty and easy-to-grow member of the Brassica family, aren't among our modest inventory of regularly produced vegetables.

Collard Trees were brought to California from the English Channel island of Jersey, where they were used to feed cattle, in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Tree Collards extremely nutritious and high in calcium.  Because tree collards do not contain oxalic acid, they may be consumed raw. 

Most Collard Trees may live for four to five years (or more) as perennials, but since they require so much calcium from the soil, it's recommended to rotate them after three years. Before totally removing them, you should try collecting cuttings, planting a new bed, and establishing it.

Collard Trees thrive in most temperate settings, but if the temperature goes below 18°F for an extended period of time, they can die.  Take cuttings at least one month before the first hard frost, flatten them, and store them in a greenhouse for the winter; replant the cuttings one month after the final hard frost in the spring. 

Collard Tree Techniques

Collard Trees thrive in full sun to dappled shade, good soil (not too acidic), and plenty of water. However, because they are perennials, they require special pruning and training.

Collard Trees don't stay vertical if left to their own devices; they topple over and produce a tangle of stems. As a result, most gardeners train them up a stake.  You may pick the height you desire and keep pruning them down to that height, a practice that elevates an ordinarily clumsy plant to a well-maintained plant.

Collards grow in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and they grow well in containers that can be kept indoors for the winter in colder climates. They may also be cultivated as an annual and propagated by taking cuttings in the fall, rooting them inside, and replanting them in the spring. Tree collards, like their collard siblings, survive heat better than other brassicas and may be picked at any time of year.

How To Grow A Collard Tree

There are a number of ways to grow a collard tree, with propagation being the easiest & most reliable. Follow the followings steps to grow your own collard tree:


Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate tree collards.   Cut off a healthy, non-woody branch that will yield two or more cuttings to create cuttings. From a good-sized branch with well spaced nodes, you can receive as many as six cuts.

All save the highest 1 to 2 leaves should be removed. At least six growth nodes must be present in each initial cutting. (A growth node is the scar left behind after a leaf is removed or falls off). 

If the nodes are tightly spaced, a cutting can be as short as 4 to 6 inches long. Cutting between 6 and 8 inches is ideal, but more beyond 12 inches is not recommended. Ensure that each cutting has 6–8 nodes. 


Determine which side of the node is right side up: the more curved section of the node is at the bottom, and the top is where the new leaves will emerge. The tops of the stems should be cut at an angle to avoid retaining water and decaying, and the bottoms should be trimmed flat. 

Cut off about 1 inch from the bottom of each cutting when you're ready to flatten it, being careful to cut just below the next node up from the bottom. This makes it easier to get water from a fresh, clean cut and for a good root to form.

In a 3-inch-deep flat with mounded soil, place the cuttings on 1.5 to 2-inch centers. Make sure there are at least three nodes under the soil and three nodes above the soil. Keep the flats in the shade as much as possible in the first four weeks. Make sure they're uniformly wet. 

Depending on the time of year, it might take 2 to 4 months for the cuttings to fully root. When a cutting has 3 to 4-inch  long roots forking from the nodes under the soil or from the bottom of the cutting, and two leaves sprouting from the nodes above the soil, it's ready to transplant. 

Early spring is the optimum time to transplant since the weather is still mild. If it's too hot, the plants will be stressed and have a harder time establishing themselves. 


Plant the cuttings in a well-prepared bed that has been nourished with compost. Open a hole deep enough for the roots with a hand trowel, 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, and lay 2 to 4 unrooted nodes under the dirt. 

At least two leaf nodes should be visible above the earth. Because the plant may grow to be over 9 feet tall, the cutting must be deep enough for the existing roots to attach the plant firmly and for more roots to sprout from the stem. 

Staking & Support

Collard Trees can grow up to 8 feet+ tall, so it is important to aqequately support your tree. After transplanting, put an 8 foot tall stake in the ground next to each collard tree.

When all of the stakes are in place, cover the bed with 30 percent shade netting until the plant has enough leaves to flourish. During the hot summer months, shade netting may be left on to provide a better habitat for the plants. As the temperature cools, remove the shade netting in late summer or early fall.

As the collard tree grows taller, wrap heavy twine around your plant and attach it to the stake to give extra support.

Pruning & Harvesting Collard Trees

Tree collards should be trimmed 2 to 3 weeks before the peak summer heat, which is at the end of July or early August. This will allow the plant to recover in time for the winter harvest.

Pruning the plants just above a node to 2 feet high the first year, 2.5 feet high the second year, and 3 feet high the third year yields the best results over time. 

Even if the first-year plant isn't much more than 2 feet tall, or even less than 2 feet tall, it's preferable to cut it back so that it doesn't grow too quickly the second year and generate too much tall, weaker growth. 

Thin, weak, or twisted stems should be pruned off. Remove any tiny branches but leave any leaves on the remaining plant stems. Make sure the trimmed stems are tightly secured to their stakes with a loop of twine. Remove any little branches growing below 2 to 2.5 feet one to two months later.  

When the bigger leaves on your collard tree are about 60% green and 40% purple, they should be harvested. These leaves are much more flavorful compared to the leaves that are only green. 

Allow at least 5 center reasonable-sized leaves to remain at the top of the stalk, this will guarantee that your plant stays alive by allowing photosynthesis to take place. Snap the leaf off at the node by  snapping it downwards. Pulling it down gently will cause part of the stem to come away. 


Growing your own collard trees is not too difficult - it should be a fun and rewarding experience! Collards are a great healthy addition to many dishes and provide many nutrients. Simply follow our instructions and you should be growing your own collard trees in no time!