10 colorful vegetables to plant for a rainbow-hued garden

Mar 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Vegetables and fruit get their coloring from naturally occurring pigmentation. Some examples are beta-carotene in carrots, lutein in red peppers and lycopene in tomatoes. The colors of plants do more than just make them look beautiful; there are health benefits to the pigments that range from antioxidants, protection from heart disease and certain types of cancer. That’s good news for gardeners. There are so many colorful plants out there, many heirloom varieties, that you can plant a colorful rainbow of veggies.

1. Radishes

These cute little root vegetables are easy to grow and add a little peppery kick to a salad. They are quick growing too: less than a month from seed to table. Mostly known for their red color, radishes are also available in pastel colors, striped and even black! The watermelon radishes pictured here are just gorgeous.

watermelon radish
Image: Susie's Farm/Flickr

Watermelon radish is also known as Roseheart or Red Meat radish. This is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish that has 4-inch round roots with white and green skin and a rose-red center. Unlike most radishes that have a peppery bite, these radishes are sweet, crisp and delicious.

2. Eggplant

Most of us are familiar with the deep purple, almost black color of eggplants. They are available in a range of colors from many shades of purple, greens, all white and even oranges. But check out these striped beauties.

striped eggplant
Image: Larry/Flickr

There are several varieties of striped eggplants — some common varieties are Angels, Caliope and Nubia.

More: 7 things to think about when planning a garden

3. Carrots

Orange carrots have only been around since the 17th century. They were cultivated by the Dutch in honor of William of Orange who led the struggle for Dutch independence. Until then, carrots were red, white, purple and even black.

purple dragon carrots
Image: duckycards/SheKnows

The gorgeous purplish red exterior of these purple dragon carrots is a wonderful contrast to the brilliant orange interior. These pretty carrots will get anyone to eat their veggies.

4. Cauliflower

Skip the plain white variety of cauliflower and go for color. Cauliflower comes in bright apple green, yellow and purples. They are high in dietary fiber, folate and vitamin C and depending on the color, you get an added dose of beta-carotene and anthocyanin.

cauliflower
Image: Stephen Garcia/Flickr

“Cheddar Cheese”, “Violetta Italia” or “Green Macerata” are some of the colorful varieties of cauliflower you can grow.

Next: More rainbow veggies

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